Anyone in Britain could tell you that the referendum on Scottish Independence has dominated the news for much of the past year. Politicians on both sides of the argument have talked themselves hoarse, and unlikely bedfellows have joined together, in the hope of influencing one side or the other. There have been threats, propaganda, the instilling of fear and worry, and even outright lies. Big business all over the planet has lined up against the nationalists, pledging to withdraw most of the industrial and manufacturing base of this small country. Pro-Independence pundits have made ridiculously optimistic claims about the possibilities for an independent Scotland, and the anti-lobby has countered with visions of doom and gloom.
The issues of currency, EU membership, Defence and a nuclear deterrent, and even the laughable threat of a withdrawal of NATO protection, have all been thrown against the arguments for an independent country. The Yes campaign has traded on tradition, Scottish flags and bagpipers, as well as the inherent distrust of the English, and the Westminster parliament, to rally voters to their cause. Famous actors and musicians, many not actually living in Scotland, have appeared on TV, urging a vote for ‘freedom’. The leaders of the nationalists have talked grandly of new international borders, a Scottish passport, and trade agreements with countries all over the world. Neither side really provided any hard facts. They did not answer most of the questions posed by ordinary voters. And they seemed to conveniently forget the fact that they already have their own parliament, albeit as part of a United Kingdom. This is very much a toy parliament though. Allowed to do such things as to not charge for medication, or require fees from university students. Anything ‘serious’ is still controlled and overseen by Westminster. Nonetheless, they do have one, which is more than we can say in England.
If I was a Scot, I would have voted Yes. It would have been for many reasons; none of them to do with economics, all of them to do with character and identity. Even as I ticked my ballot paper though, I would have known that it was a lost cause. It was never going to happen. Fear of the unknown would always prevail in the end. And those threats to withdraw industry, to remove the jobs and livelihoods, would always be at the back of the voters’ minds. Promises were made; vote No, and changes will happen. More powers will be devolved, and a better future secured for all in Scotland. I would have known that this was a lie. Scotland has had scant representation in the UK parliament for many years now. They have not voted for the party in power, and as a consequence, have been sidelined. Their oil will run out, the fish stocks will dwindle, and nobody needs their heavy industry anymore. They will just fade away. Their national identity will become a curiosity for tourists, and the country will be destined to be a place of holidays and whisky, an enormous service industry on a national scale.
The result is out this morning. Less than half of the electorate voted for Independence. It was always going to be so.
They threw away a rare opportunity. One they may well never have again.