Not sure I should’ve watched the referendum coverage all night on Thursday - only just recovered, everything past 6 is still a ‘did i see that?!’ blur. The last thing I really remember was Alistair Darling, surrounded by love hearts and confetti, doing a weird smile. Hazy memories also of Jeremy Vine, swirling around on a shadowy balcony like a CGI wielding wizard in a dystopian Ministry of Magic, asking out loud whether it mattered who your gran was. At 5am. You should’ve been there.
I was a last-minute Yes, so my feelings are mixed. Though I’m happy I have the same security, BBC radio and British identity, I voted Yes despite my natural inclination, for what I felt would be a fairer representation of Scottish voters. It’s a principle I maybe don’t talk about much, but I felt I still had to put my money where my mouth is. I’m also all for getting rid of the need for food banks and addressing the wider issue that they typify. While we’ve been promised control over our welfare budget, those promises just weren’t convincing enough at the time.
That said, I’m skeptical that independence would have done away with the kind of self-interest and cynicism we associate with Westminster, people being what they are. And with a Yes majority, would we have reverted to patting ourselves on the back, then waiting for our politicians and business leaders and miscellaneous others to conveniently ‘mess it all up’ for us? Or would we have properly engaged with the opportunity, taken it for all it was worth, built something much better? I’d like to think the latter, but the truth is probably something in the middle. Perhaps that makes the outcome easier to deal with.
Two huge, verifiable positives, though. The enormous turnout and Yes vote means that change, hopefully of the ‘better’ kind, is inevitable, not just for us but for England (specifically the North) and the rest of the UK. And a huge chunk of our young have been involved in one of the most dynamic referendums in recent history. We desperately need new, principled political talent. If Devo Max had been on the cards, it would’ve been a drowsy formality, and we might never have had either of those two outcomes.
So I guess I’m happy. Truthfully? I was probably instinctually rooting for No all night :D But I cast my vote in a way that I’m satisfied with, and a part of me was still disappointed with how it all went down.
But I don’t believe anyone who voted No was a coward, or a bottler, or the wince-inducing ‘not truly Scottish’. I don’t believe they didn’t do their homework, because I know how much reading I did, and changed my mind more times than I can remember. I certainly don’t blame any reticence. I found it a lot easier to talk about being a Yes than a No - that misplaced feeling that you were somehow holding the party back was still a powerful one.
I don’t know any No who voted as they did out of timidness. They voted out of principle, and out of an honest understanding of their own personal identity. I don’t know how much my respect counts for, but they certainly have it.
While it’ll be nice to have a break from considering the Referendum, and I’m hoping the various theatres of tension surrounding it will melt away, it’d be great if this level of our engagement with politics continues.
Anyway, I’m off to a party. I really hope it’s the one I’m think I’m going to, and that that memory of Alistair Darling was an event from the past, and not some terrible dream- warning for tonight…