I am proud that the UK can have a sustained and passionate debate about identity and government, and come to a democratic conclusion. In so many other parts of the world the explosive issue of identity produces civil strife and war. I also agree with the many commentaries that say the Scottish people engaged greatly in the issues, argued and studied the consequences of both options, and voted in large numbers. They did so because it mattered. They valued their vote.
I do not share the opinion of many that the two campaigns were also great. The Independence campaign was based on two central errors. The first was the notion that Scotland could continue in a currency union with the rest of the UK once “independent”, when the UK Parliament was united in saying that was not on offer. The second was the idea that Scotland could slip back into EU membership quickly and easily, when other counties in the EU were angry that Scotland dared to want more independence.
I thought it bizarre that it was called an independence campaign, when the advocates wanted a new dependence – dependence on the Bank of England and a foreign country’s money policy, dependence on the EU, maintenance of the Queen as Head of State, and so much else. It was a divorce where they wanted to keep the family bank account and still go on the family holidays.
The Better Together campaign had a great slogan but they were often depressingly negative. Where were the great speeches and soundbites explaining the benefits of the union to the voters? Why did none of the main speakers articulate a forward looking vision of the UK that made sense to more Scottish voters? Why did the business community come in so heavily with threats, when presumably they still want to sell things to the 1.6 million voters they decided to pick a fight with? Why can’t the pro Union forces show how belonging to the wider union could offer more opportunity to the young and the poor in the urban lowlands? What will the pro union forces and the SNP government now do to offer a better future to them?
I learned from the campaign that according to the Scottish government Scotland is a rich country and has values that wish to share those riches around fairly. I look forward to them showing how this can be done within the UK now that we have decided we are better together.