…and that is the polls closed.
On FaceBook, Alex Salmond’s page now has over 90,000 likes, Nicola Sturgeon over 61,000, even John Swinney is over 15,000. It may be a crude metric, but…it probably means…something.
I voted late – about 2 hours ago. After taking a shower to remove the campaign grime, I took a walk around the neighbourhood, to see how things might have changed.
It had been a grey, first day of autumn sort of a day – not perhaps the invigorating inspirational day to get the vote out that might have been good – but, then again, perhaps the sort of day that keeps the less inclined (71% likelihood to vote) ‘No’ voters a little more at home (compared with the 83% likelihood ‘Yes’ voters). I certainly felt a little subdued – but whether that was due to a slight drop in temperature (not apparently experienced by Glasgow, interestingly enough), or lack of sleep, it is hard to say. I was way on the south side, in Polwarth Terrace, staffing outside a polling station. One No woman with a voice like a foghorn, who insisted on lobbying the people coming up her side of the pavement to vote. Periodically, they would go into little clusters and talk about how if ‘they’ won it, it would be through intimidation and fear. Geez – they really have no idea of the abuse done by the No advocates…Yes campaigners are teddy bears and pussycats in comparison.
As I walked around the district this evening, what was interesting, was how fast the ‘No’ posters were already being spirited away, but the Yes ones were still up. Packing away a guilty, shameful secret, perhaps? The only No advocate left is the one who did the big art installation in his window that I mentioned before, the small altar to the union flag.
There’s a damp grey pause in the night, as we wait in these intervening 4 hours, before results start to be declared at around 2am – and I am strangely uninterested in watching the BBC (or other TV) padding and filler until that starts to happen. The revanchist agenda has geared up over the weeks, waiting for the opportunity to pounce for revenge in the wake of a ‘No’ vote. You can see it online in the comments – the grudging struggle online to understand, with seemingly decent people starting by saying it is ‘Scotland’s choice’ – then maybe even managing to say ‘good luck to them’, and then it all falling apart under the bitter spite of ‘but Salmond wants to be King’ and ‘no currency union’… This is the direct result of the media’s deliberate and determined failure to report the debate honestly, a deliberate move to misrepresent it, and poison the chalice. The media’s most conspicuous impact to date on Anglo-Scottish relations is the enthusiastic promotion of the idea that Scotland is subsidised by (predominantly) English taxpayers, an idea with a long pedigree (since around the time the McCrone Report on oil wealth was finished) but given unprecedented prominence during the Referendum debate. The animosity generated in England by this idea, so ably articulated by the London-based commentariat and its followers alike, has probably done more to erode Anglo-Scottish relations, and thus the well-being of the Union, over the last decades than anything else.
Yet unionist politicians and journalists know this idea of subsidised Scots is false. They use the statistics of Scotland having 8.4% of the UK’s population but receiving 9.3% of its public spending as enthusiastically as they ignore the statistic from the same source that Scotland also contributes 9.9% of the funding of that spending.
Further damage to Anglo-Scottish relations comes from the promotion of the idea that the desire for Scottish independence is driven by anti-English prejudice. This is an idea stated as fact by unionist commentators and politicians alike, both north and south of the border, despite it simply not being true. In fact, the reverse prejudice (anti-Scottish one) has far more palpable evidence to support its existence. An unrelenting flow of vitriol has poured forth over the past months, unsanctioned and unquestioned, particularly from opinion columns and the below-the-line comments appended to such columns, but also on radio and television, and with little effort to moderate the abuse by those who are in a position to do so. This scorched earth and burnt ground is the real legacy of the ‘No’ Campaign – and they simply don’t care about the permanent damage that it does to what was left of the Union beforehand.
This agenda, or myopia, has been greatly facilitated by what has been described as a ‘narrowing of the concept of Britishness’ since the mid-eighties. It has accelerated throughout the Referendum campaign and now, regardless of result, this has had damaging consequences in terms of the environment that this media dimension has created, even if the ‘No’ side win. But – of course – this does not matter to the ‘No’ funders and backers – as they (mostly living outside Scotland) won’t be living with the result of their work.
The agenda for revenge will be vocally supported by those MPs who have come out flatly in opposition to any more ‘powers’ being seen to go to Scotland, even before the result is in. This will give Westminster all the political backing to do as little as it wants…or even less.
The funny thing is, I can hear what the advocates of the ‘No’ vote in Scotland – like the foghorn woman at that polling station today – will say about it. ‘Well, its perfectly understandable – if it wasn’t for the damned SNP and that bloody Alex Salmond asking such a stupid question… he has brought ALL of this on our heads – nobody else but him.’
Oh, Scotland. Did you see the barrel of the gun you were looking down, and realise the terminal decision to vote ‘No’? That refusal to take ownership for our own actions, let alone begin to think about the different futures that we could have WITH independence, has more consequences than ‘stifling a little political creativity’… That rather than tapping a rich vein of ideas, allowing us to see in stark lighting exactly what we don’t like about the British State, and how we would do things markedly differently – that rather than that, that irredentist fury could descend on us – without discriminating between ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ voters…except on the basis of money?
The world waits on the turn of the hour hand. Fog may assail the helicopters, and delay the counting of the votes from the islands. The world waits to see…if Scotland put the barrel in its mouth and simply pulled the trigger.
“One of the charges against Better Together is that it is unremittingly negative, preferring to pose endless questions of the Yes side, rather than sell the benefits of the UK. Privately, some inside Better Together even refer to the organisation as Project Fear. McDougall is unrepentant about the tactics.” (Sunday Herald, 23/6/2013)