It is a sad time for many Scots. Possibly even most Scots in spite of the referendum result. It may be tempting to brand our No voting friends and neighbours as Tories and as having endorsed the kind of leadership we currently get in Westminster. That would be unfair because that was not the question. "Should Scotland become an independent country?" was the question and now that the people have spoken the answer is a No, it should not. Democracy has clearly won in Scotland and that is something to celebrate. A majority of Scots, 55%, said we would stick it out with the Union. 45% (1,617,989) said no this simply isn't working out for us. We want something different. This is a conclusive result but it is far from an overwhelming victory for the Union which poses an interesting challenge going forward.
Members of the Scottish Democratic Alliance will be aware that Yes Scotland was a construct of the Scottish National Party. While it made noises about being a cross party and multi-party edifice at best it was merely a coalition of the left. Inclusion of the Scottish Socialists and the Greens seems to reinforce this and they gave every appearance of being dissatisfied by the association. The SDA has all along been deliberately excluded by Yes Scotland. While our party was not part of Yes Scotland our members were welcome and active in the wider grass-roots movement. We've all done our part to support independence for Scotland but quietly without bringing much attention to failings of Yes Scotland. It was their campaign and the SNP's to lose and now that they have we believe it is time to have an honest look at the shortcomings as they have now been born out by the referendum results.
The basic hard truth here is that Yes Scotland failed to convince enough people to vote yes. We believe that this was due in part to a failure of strategy.
Yes Scotland's vision of independence was of a social democratic leftist country. A vision that included keeping the pound, the Queen, the EU and a host of other options which can only be described as independence lite. A vision that didn't look like they had the full courage of their convictions and were a bit soft on the idea. This vision was clearly not something of universal appeal to the people of Scotland many whom ultimately voted no must have been alarmed at this prospect that a social democratic leftist state would be born on the backs of the affluent.
Middle class voters closer to the establishment who have more to lose and less to gain were simply not part of the conversation on independence. They were probably not swayed so much by the arguments of the abysmal no campaign in favour of the staying in the Union. They doubtless see quite clearly the failures and iniquities of the UK state and may even have been sympathetic to independence as a means to redress those shortcomings.
It is one of the established myths of Scotland that it is for Labour and the left. We've said all along the Scots are inherently conservative. Not in the Tory sense but in the pragmatic sense of being resistant to change. Independence is radical change for a conservative country. This referendum saw high turnout and the so called missing million turns out to be of this conservative bent. In retrospect is seems that a strategy to convince conservatives to vote for radical independence would have had a profound effect on the result. There is a compelling case to be made and it is one that we've been making.
The strategy that Yes Scotland did deploy of a social democratic Scotland seems to have a more party political motivation. If you are a hammer all problems look like nails. If you are the SNP the opposition looks like Labour.
Cynics may see a strategy that was designed to undermine the Labour party. In this it seems to have been particularly successful. Yes Scotland has gone on blithely doing the SNP's business bashing nails when it turns out the opposition was something entirely different like a houseplant or something. We wonder what the campaign would have been like if Yes Scotland went about watering the houseplants of Scotland rather than bashing nails.
What is next for Scotland? Promises made by Westminster in the heat of panic now need to be fulfilled. Scotland voted to remain in the Union on the premise that a no vote was a vote for Devo Max. We need to hold Westminster to account for that which means that the dissatisfaction with the status quo in Scotland and the direction of travel for politics in the UK gives us Scots the opportunity to bring the demand for constitutional change not just to Scotland but to the wider United Kingdom. Scotland's dissatisfaction with the status quo has been channelled peacefully into the referendum but in the rest of the UK these same feelings have been unfocused and have seen a swing to the far right UKIP. Our duty should now be to focus the whole countries dissatisfaction with the status quo. We now simply need to change venues. Our arena is now the sordid swamp of Westminster and our strategy needs to be to reform what is broken in the UK rather than cut ourselves off from it and starting fresh.
The 2015 Elections are now much more important and that is what is next.
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