Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

So, Should Scotland be an Independent Country?

In a day’s time the die will have been cast, the polls (in Scotland) will have closed and it (the referendum) will be all over bar the counting.

But what of the aftermath?

Until the last week, the most fearful aftermath for me has been that of a “YES” vote, because I feared (and still fear) a very fractious 18 months as Salmond demands that the whole UK bends its sovereign will to the “Sovereign Will” of the Scottish Separatists, followed by ill-feeling and disillusion as the impossibility of negotiating and delivering Scotland’s Future becomes clear.

But in the last week “the three fools” have created a similarly worrying aftermath if they get a “NO” vote. For they have made promises – slightly less vague than Salmond’s – for which they have no mandate and they may face problems in getting those promises through the House of Commons (the Sovereign will of the whole of the UK). Failure to deliver these rash panic-driven promises will be portrayed as a betrayal.

Now both results have a worrying aftermath – and both sides have demonstrated what is wrong with politics. Politicians will say what they think they have to say to win – implementation is a secondary consideration. The legacy of spin?

So what do I think is going to happen – and what would I like to happen?

I don’t think the polls are much help in telling us what will happen as the margin of error is less than any lead and the margin of error may be even bigger due to the inability of pollsters to calibrate their findings against “last time”.

So it comes down to a gut feel. How much will the apparent vigour of the YES campaign give them victory and how many silent NOes are out there to secure victory for the No campaign? I expect a narrow “YES” victory but think that I hope that I am wrong.

It has been suggested that the Scottish verdict of “Not proven” is applicable – which one would expect to lead to a status quo NO vote. I would prefer the procedural mechanism of proposing that “the question be not put” because either result will now lead to a mess. But that is impossible.

Before a decision is made both options need to be properly defined.

That has been a problem with YES throughout – their prospectus has been based on a set of aspirations presented as certainties. To realise that prospectus the nationalists are actually relying on accepting the economic dependence implied by a shared currency and on receiving a level of benevolence from those they wish to be independent from and who they will have just spurned.

NO used to be simple – not YES. The third option of devo-max (or variations thereon) was kept off the ballot by David Cameron who “wanted a clear question”. And yet in the last week he has muddied the waters by presenting devo-max as the NO option. From South of the border I cannot understand how increasing the democratic disparity between Scotland and England can command support in the House of Commons. Already in the House of Commons mechanisms like the Barnett Formula lack support – but the three fools have promised its continuance.

Salmond says that for YES, tomorrow is a “chance of a lifetime” and it must be seized. He misunderstands, if there is a NO there will, within the lifetime of most Scots, be another chance to say “YES”. Tomorrow is the single chance of a lifetime to say “NO”; if it is not taken Scots will not have another chance to say “NO” – because the Union will be no more.

Until last week I would have argued for voting NO to avoid the problems that would follow a YES on the current prospectus. A narrow “NO” would permit a regrouping and the presentation of a more realistic prospectus that stands a chance of being negotiated without the massive ill-feeling that I fear.

But now with NO being an un-mandated devo-max or even super-devo (it’s not clear), there will be ill-feeling as well. So perhaps those who feel so much more Scottish than British that the Union is an offence should vote YES – but with the acceptance that they won’t get Scotland’s Future, but that in the long run that does not matter for they will be “free”. If there are enough feeling like that they will tomorrow redefine my/our country.


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