Scotland decided: it’s a No, by a decisive 10% majority and a record-breaking 86% turnout. Scotland decided.
Yesterday morning, sitting waiting for a meeting to begin that had been unexpectedly delayed, we talked about the referendum: I had already voted, my colleague was planning to vote when she went home. She was planning to vote Yes, I had already voted No. She said, thoughtfully, “you make a very good case for No” (but I doubt if I changed her vote).
“It’s really a campaign of idealists against pragmatists,” she said, and I agreed: any proposal for independence, to win majority support in Scotland, will have to appeal to the pragmatic voter.
I’ve blogged extensively about why I hoped for a decisive No win since March: Leaning Towards No/A Better Nation…? in March and, six months later, A Man, Plan A, a Canal – currency union!/Unrepresented by media.
For many people who were celebrating hopefully last night, this is a crushing disappointment: they hoped for great things from independence. Christmas in September: a Yes majority meant a promise for everything good, from an end to austerity to cuts in corporation tax, from greater LGBT equality to more restrictions on abortion: whatever your idea of “a better Scotland” was, you could find some support for it in the Yes movement.
Voting No wasn’t for me just a pragmatic decision that currency union, dependence on oil, murky financial decisions, and reliance on rUK to do iScotland favours were a bad basis for independence: I also felt – and felt strongly – that we could do better than a muddled plan for independence that would leave many Yes voters sure this wasn’t what they’d thought they were voting for. You cannot please both Brian Souter and Peter Tatchell: yet both had been convinced that an independent Scotland would deliver for the things they wanted.
But an extraordinary, record-breaking 84.48% turnout – two years of a national conversation that seemed to involve everyone: whether you voted Yes or No, we can all feel we won this morning.
(It’s nearly six in the morning as I begin this blogpost, and four big local authority areas had yet to declare – Edinburgh, Fife, Aberdeenshire, and Highland: in total, 1,043980 votes. (Plus two of the smaller ones: Argyll & Bute, Moray, each about 70,000 votes.) The target to win is 1,822,942. The Yes campaign would need to get 720154 votes to win – they’d need all four of the big areas to have voted 70-30 Yes / No. But so far, only four local authority areas have voted above 50% Yes, and none above 60%. Results looked certain enough for No to write this without jinxing it.)