Well that was an anti-climax. Had the vote gone the other way on Thursday I expect the celebrations would still have been going on. In the end, 44.65% of votes cast were for an independent Scotland with 55.25% against (see full results). Not as close as polls were suggesting but still a lot closer than the UK establishment would have liked. So what saved the Union?
For one thing, the BBC was clearly biased against independence. I haven’t owned a television for well over ten years now, partly to avoid having to pay the BBC a licence fee. I do however monitor BBC News online and it is clear that they are anything but neutral – acting as cheerleader for Blair’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, always siding with Israel against Palestine, pretending the Green Party don’t exist etc. I can totally relate to the fear of change involved in voting for independence and the BBC seemed to be doing what it could to stoke that fear.
Then there was the bribery. When it looked like the Yes campaign actually had a chance the leaders of the three main UK political parties signed a joint declaration pledging to maintain an extra £1,400 of funding per head for Scotland in the event of a No vote. Not only that but David Cameron also promised further devolution, going some way towards the “devo max” option that Alex Salmond wanted on the ballot in the first place (but which Cameron rejected at the time because he was confident that the people would not vote for independence). We will never know how many No votes were bought in this way but Cameron seems to have dug himself into a bit of a hole and may have trouble keeping these promises.
Despite the No vote UK politics received it’s biggest shake up in a long while and in Scotland the campaign has started a whole new discourse about democracy. What I don’t understand is why the SNP said they were in favour of keeping the Queen and the Pound. It is not like an independent Scotland could have forced the Queen to be head of state, and campaigning too often got bogged down on the currency issue, which should have been left to sort out after independence. Still, Alex Salmond came out of it quite well and made a good speech conceding defeat. He has stepped down as first minister but will continue to have significant influence (he has already accused UK party leaders of tricking Scotland into a No vote).
There are of course some people saying that the vote was rigged but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of that. There wasn’t an official exit poll but late polling agreed quite well with the actual result. Russia claimed that the referendum did not meet international standards but that could just have been a tit for tat response to persistent criticism of Russia’s own elections. My friend Benny Wenda was an official observer at the count in Edinburgh. He has been campaigning tirelessly for an independence referendum in West Papua where the situation is rather more extreme (imagine the RAF bombing Scottish villages for daring to raise the Saltire). By the way, two French journalists, Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois are currently being detained indefinitely for reporting in West Papua.
A week ago when I wrote about the referendum (three days before it took place) I linked to a short survey which I had created. It only got 14 responses but I may as well give the results anyway.
|Should Scotland be an independent country?||9||3||2|
|Should an independent Scotland seek to retain the Queen as head of state?||2||9||3|
|Should an independent Scotland apply for EU membership?||10||0||4|
|Should the UK maintain a fleet of nuclear armed submarines?||3||10||1|
As I said in my earlier post I am totally opposed to the UK replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons. The SNP policy was to evict Trident from Faslane but having failed to secure independence that is not within their control. I haven’t given up hope though and I encourage you to check out the Rethink Trident website and sign the statement if you agree.