Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 19 September 2014

The Scottish Question… A Political Answer

The referendum is over. The votes have been cast, and we remain one great, united, dysfunctional family.

I’m not surprised.

I have a great affinity with Scotland.

My mother’s family is Scottish, and I spent four years studying in Scotland. I love the place and its people.

I love and admire them for asking the question.

My feeling was that they would say Yes loudly and long in public, but that when it came to the privacy of the polling booths they would vote No.

I used to sing “Flower of Scotland” with them. I used to feel like one of them. I was one of them.

That’s one of the many wonderful things about the Scots: they are an inclusive people.

Yes, I’m going to generalise... so sue me.

With my haughty English accent and my decadent English ways, even back in the Thatcherite 80s, even when The Socialist Worker was the number 1 newspaper on campus, I was welcome and I was included. I was teased, of course I was, but I was also one of them, because I was there, sharing the experience, and they took me at face value. The Scottish students soon saw past the accent and listened to the words I was speaking, and they judged me on the content of my character and not on the things that mattered less.

The Scots are pragmatic too. They have their history. It is there, and it isn’t going anywhere. The Act of Union was three hundred years old in 2007, and three centuries haven’t prevented Scotland remaining Scottish or its people retaining their character or their traditions.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon
Wiki's page on the Referendum
I am glad Scotland asked the question. It was their right so to do. I’m glad they asked the question for themselves, and I’m glad they asked it for the Union.

This is about politics, about all of us, and it’s about the coalition. It’s about the government that nobody voted for.

David Cameron has been the Prime Minister that nobody voted into power. I rather wish that the system was different. I rather wish that we had all gone home after the last election and come back to the polls six weeks later after further public debates, and cast a second round of votes. Six weeks more of Gordon Brown’s last government couldn’t have been the end of the World. The political parties and the electorate would have had a clear picture of the state of play, and those who hadn’t voted might have seen just how important it was to turn up.

The Scottish turned up for the referendum with more than 85 percent of them voting, rising to more than 90 percent in some areas. There is no question that the outcome reflects the opinion of the majority of the electorate, and there was no fumbling of the ball.

Let this be a lesson to us all.

The next general election is only a matter of months away. If we could all get as interested in that as the Scottish have been in the fate of their nation and in the Union, at the very least we will have a government that the majority of the electorate is agreed upon. Who knows? We might see a clear majority in the house of commons and a single party with a mandate to govern effectively.

The political wrangling of the past five years has been grubby and demoralising for all of us. It was caused by politicians to some degree, but it was instigated by the indecisiveness of the voters who turned up and by the apathy of those who didn’t. The 2010 general election saw one of the lowest turnouts for a general election since 1945.

The Scottish have shown us all how it can be done, and I hope they’ve reignited our interest in politics and in the deficiencies in this compromise, coalition government. If a coalition was a good idea, perhaps there should have been room on the ballot paper to vote for it.


  1. It's just a shame that so much of Scotland are okay with the high levels of poverty and the atrocious life expectancy in some areas. 54 in parts of Glasgow. 54. Iraq has better. 1 in 3 children in poverty. Food banks as common as regular banks in some places. And 54% are fine with that.

    The Barnett formula will bring 4 billion pounds less to Scotland next time round. And 54% are okay with that.

    Elderly people voted 73 to 27 against.

    Teenagers [including aged 16, since Scotland trusts them to vote but Westminster will not in the General Election] voted 71 to 29 for. Their future has been stolen by the elderly and those who fell victim to a hateful scare-mongering No campaign.

    I cannot comprehend a Scotland that wants Westminster to still be in control. Clackmannanshire's results came in first. How many of Westminster even knew that was a place, let alone where it was? And these are the people running the country.

    That 85% voter turnout? That won't happen again here. You are going to be met with 1,617,989 people who voted Yes realising, as that Russell Brand guy once said, that their votes don't matter. What's the point?

    Cameron made assurances for powers and the likes in the last week when they feared a loss, and within 24 hours those plans unraveled. And now, with a No vote, Scotland has no way to ensure anything happens. They have said 'what you're doing is a-okay, keep at it', and that is disastrous.

    1. Political wheels grind slowly. I hope and believe that the very fact this question was raised will help to fundamentally change some of the critical things that you've flagged. The fact that a referendum was called will change things in Westminster; I have very little doubt of it, and I certainly hope for it.

      Here's the thing, though. The question can be asked again. There might be a status quo right now, although I don't believe that the 'No' vote means this at all. But, and it's a big 'but', this doesn't alter the future. Having asked the question once doesn't prevent the Scots going back to the ballot box in the future, and if and when they do, this No vote doesn't set a precedent for a future No vote.

    2. That's democracy for you. You're entitled to a vote, not to having everything your own way.

      Much like the rest of the UK, in that respect.

    3. 'Having asked the question once doesn't prevent the Scots going back to the ballot box in the future, '

      Cameron has said 'this ends the discussion for a generation...perhaps for a lifetime'.

      You have to remember, when Scotland was given its government, it was contrived as such that there could not be a majority. A majority, of course, being required to request for this referendum. And yet, there goes the SNP with its majority, and upsetting Westminster. That shall not happen again.

      And if you doubt that, look at the Vow made. Less than 48 hours for Milliband to go from 'A No vote would give you more powers' to 'I do not support the PM's plans to give Scotland more powers'.


      That's democracy for you, you say?

      I am in Glasgow. I am in a city that voted to be out of a Union. In a country run by, soon to be, a First Minister no one voted for. In the UK led by a government that no one voted in.

      ...democracy. Bearing in mind, what I mentioned about Glasgow? 54 life expectancy. 1 in 3 children in poverty. I want that dealing with so that means I want 'everything my own way'? Really? Says a lot more about you than it does me.