Friday, 19 September 2014

The Scottish Referendum - No One Heard Their Screams


Referendum Day
Tonight Scotland will decide to continue or end its 307 year membership of the UK. With the latest polls suggesting a narrow win for the “No” Vote, it’s been a close run thing, far closer than anyone ever thought possible. (Ipsos Mori: Yes 47%, No 53%). I’ve gazed into my crystal ball, and writing 4 hours before the results, am inclined to call a narrow win for the “No” vote.
There will be no exit polls for TV pundits to support or refute, prompting James Ball of the Guardian Newspaper to speculate: “Why no exit poll for such a momentous and consequential vote? The first possibility is that no one thought the vote would be close, and so deemed it as not interesting enough to be worthy of the spend.”

Things will never be the same again.
Whatever the result, things have changed and will never be the same again. If the Yes vote polls more than 40%, then we have a nation deeply divided and not a happy member of the United Kingdom.
Ever hear the one about the married woman who cheated on her husband and had an affair? Everyone called her a traitorous adulteress, ungrateful, irresponsible, selfish. Then she told her story of the lack of attention from her husband for years, focussed as he was on career and maintaining their family lifestyle. His wife’s pleas for him to listen went unheard, or was responded to with the occasional perfunctory gesture of a night out, half of which he spent checking his messages on the smartphone.


Understanding Scottish Feelings
Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, "Yes" Campaign
Those who have most passionately pleaded for this nation to stay together among my friends have been English. I don’t think they know how the Scots feel. I don’t think they understand that economic analysis won’t change a feeling though it may frighten a person to do what he does not wish to do. That is not free will, that is coercion by circumstances. This election will be won or lost on the basis of people’s feelings and I don’t believe any of the nation’s leaders have understood what the Scots feel about their situation. If they had, they would have made the broad and still unclear offers of greater autonomy by the leaders of the political parties about week ago, several years back. Those gestures sound a lot like the husband who offers dinner out with a wife whose affections have slowly withered possibly beyond the point of resurrection, after years of neglect.
The Start Of The Federation
Even if Scotland stays in the Union, nothing will ever be the same again, and the consequences will indeed be enormous. I can see the UK heading towards a federation of regional states. When that happens the groups within it will have to re adjust their identities and loyalties to fit. Most Asian and Afro-Caribbean Brits are happy to call themselves Brits, but few see themselves as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish. Their presence in the UK was a function of the British Colonial phenomenon with a strong Imperial British identity. I don’t expect the non-colonial populations to understand this. It’s an irrelevance to them, but it sure as hell defines many key facts of life for those of colonial origin. If the notion of “Britain” as such declines in importance, with the regional states assuming greater identities, what happens to those new members of the old UK’s population?
The Union Jack would probably change with a "Yes" win

One thing is for certain, the days of listening and not hearing are over. It will be a difficult transition, for the English as a people are notoriously shy of expressing what they really think. The English fear coming across as bullies, or too strident. People talk of Orientals as being inscrutable, but in many ways the English reserve reflects a similar social shyness. I believe those days are over. England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, but most especially England must find its voice and have the courage to speak it. Perhaps then it will also be able to listen to others as they speak what is true for them.
Pic via the Guardian Newspaper. & Lib Dem Party