I voted No.
Am I sorry, ashamed, apologetic that I voted No?
Never in this life.
I don’t think anyone should feel apologetic or ashamed or sorry for how they voted in the referendum: we came together in the largest turnout since the 1950s, after two years of intense debate. Each of us voted, and. as agreed, we abide by the majority. Everyone who voted in the referendum voted rightly, whether it was Yes or No.
If I’d known on 18th September 2014 what I know now on 18th September 2015, would I have voted differently?
Comfy in Susan Rae’s tiny sitting-room, in her flat at the top of Shrubhill, with a cup of tea, I ask her “So why did you move to Edinburgh from the Borders?” I knew she’d moved here seven years ago.
An American once told me, exasperated, “When I ask why you guys always say ‘Well, four hundred years ago – ‘”
This is of course quite untrue. Sometimes, it’s five hundred years ago.
To me it seems obvious: an independent nation has full fiscal autonomy.
A devolved country within a nation does not.
In my view, and the main reason why I voted No in September 2014, the SNP plan for “independent” Scotland – to be a country without its own central bank – was not independence at all: the only way I think our situation could now be worse would be if Yes had got the majority and we were now facing a situation where both monetary and ultimately fiscal policy would be set by George Osborne from rUK to iScotland.
If you have rose-coloured spectacles you may suppose that Osborne would naturally make decisions that would benefit and profit iScotland.
Once upon a time, before the railways were privatised, if offered a job interview in London I could ask for the interview to take place at 2pm, catch the 7am train from Edinburgh Waverley, be certain that I would reach London King’s Cross before noon, and – with a pause only to make sure I had English banknotes in my wallet – get to the job interview usually with an hour to spare. I’d allow the full afternoon for the interview and catch an evening train home. It may seem strange to youngsters these days, but I could count absolutely on getting there on time with no delays at either end: and the train fare – even at short notice – didn’t require me to remortgage my house.
Those days are gone. Nowadays we pay high fares for bad service. The majority of us want the rail services renationalised, but instead, like a shiny toy to make us happy, Labour and Conservative governments have been dangling HS2 in front of us so that we can bat at that with our paws.
On Wednesday 20th May, Angus Robertson distributed jobs among the new SNP MPs. Drew Hendry became the SNP’s Transport spokesperson, and a few days later the Independent on Sunday contacted him to tell him there’d be no high-speed rail link between London and Edinburgh.
This is not news.
The exit polls look depressing:
- Conservatives: 316
- Labour: 239
- SNP: 58
- LibDem: 10
- UKIP: 2
- Green: 2
- Plaid Cymru: 4
If the DUP get 10 seats, as some polls predicted, the Conservatives would be able to choose between a coalition with the LibDems or a coalition with DUP, whichever they pleased: either would get them to 326, and if so, we are screwed.
Only in England would the leader of a political party announce he plans a coup to overthrow the democratically-elected government, in the Daily Telegraph, two days in advance.
Just a month ago, Adam Ramsay warned on the OpenDemocracy site:
If they [the Tory press] can possibly get away with it, they will find any way they can to declare Cameron the winner, even if it’s going to be almost impossible for him to command a parliamentary majority. In doing so, they will seek to make it impossible for Miliband to govern. This circumstance would in effect be a coup by newspaper proprietors against the people of the country. Because our constitution is written not in statute, but headlines, this is perfectly possible.
It’s complicated by the fact that until a new government is formed, Cameron and the other Tory and LibDem Ministers remain in Downing Street as a caretaker government, even if they have lost their seats and aren’t MPs any longer. Just as Gordon Brown correctly remained in Downing Street as Prime Minister until Cameron and Clegg had finished their coalition deal, so must Cameron stay on as PM until the House of Commons decides how to form a democratically-elected government out of the results of the 7th May election.
If you live in Scotland, you’re almost certainly registered to vote – practically everyone was in the referendum in September 2014, and if you haven’t changed addresses since then, you still are.
If you didn’t receive a polling card because you registered too close to the 20th April deadline, or for some other reason, you can still vote: find which is your local polling station from your local election office and just go there. You don’t need ID to vote, but if you don’t have a polling card it would be a wise precaution to take some proof of address/identity with you: a local polling officer may not know the regulations and it would be faster to provide your proof than to argue with them. (You shouldn’t have to argue with them and you probably won’t, even if you don’t have a polling card: please don’t go in with a confrontational attitude.)
If not for the rise of the SNP, Labour would be looking forward to five years in government, the Conservatives would be lagging behind Labour by 30+ MPs, and the LibDems would be looking forward to five years as the party that helps either Labour or the Tories form a majority government.
If not for the rise of the SNP, Labour would be comfortably the largest party in the House of Commons after 7th May instead of desperately trying to save what they can in Scotland, and the LibDems might be expecting to lose only half their seats, instead of a likely two-thirds.