Scotland Stays

The results from yesterday’s voting:

Scotland Voting

Alex Massie, a Scot in favor of union, reflects:

[A] 55-45 victory is both a handsome margin – wider than the 53-47 I had guessed – and a remarkable repudiation of the Union. It is clear enough to be decisive; close enough to demand modesty in victory.

He is heartened by “the rediscovery that, actually, Britain was something – a place and an idea too – that was worth fighting for.” But Massie also faces uncomfortable facts:

The Union was saved, in the main, by wealthier and older Scots. The poor chose differently. That’s an uncomfortable fact for Unionists and one that requires attention. Plenty of Yes votes were cast in hope more than expectation; many others were votes predicated on the fear that voting No offered no prospect of personal or community improvement.

One lesson of this campaign is that the poor, so often marginalised, have a voice too and that they should be heard. This too, I think, should temper Unionist joy this morning. A sobering, timely, even necessary, reminder that the status quo does not float all boats.

Isabel Hardman looks at Scottish voters’ reasons for voting one way or the other:

[T]he reason more frequently cited for voting ‘Yes’ than any other was ‘disaffection with Westminster politics’, with 74% of those in favour of independence naming that, then 54 per cent also picking the NHS, followed by 33 naming tax and public spending. For No voters, the biggest issue was the pound, which does vindicate Alistair Darling rather for banging on about currency union, even when some in his own camp thought he needed a change of tack. 37 per cent cited pensions, followed by 36 who named the NHS as a reason for voting ‘No’. Similarly, 47 per cent of No voters said the most important reason for voting no was that ‘the risks of becoming independent looked too great when it came to things like the currency, EU membership, the economy, jobs and prices.

But Jason Cowley predicts that “unless there is far-reaching constitutional reform, there will be a second Scottish independence referendum before too long”:

What the referendum campaign demonstrated was that, in the right circumstances and when people believe that something truly significant is at stake and that their vote matters, they care passionately. At a time when fewer and fewer of us are members of political parties, nearly 4.3 million registered to vote, 97 per cent of those eligible. Overall turnout was 86 per cent, testament to a nation’s engagement and a direct challenge to a broken political system.

But how now to capture and harness the energies that were unleashed during a referendum campaign in Scotland that shook the foundations of the British state, stunned a complacent elite and came so close to shattering the 307-year-old Union?