Friday, September 19, 2014


A last post about the Scottish Independence referendum. I have to admit I was surprised that the 'No' vote won it by 55% to 45% - I thought that it would be much, much closer. And now there are the celebrations and the hangovers, the reviews and the soul-searching, the triumphalism and the reflection, and of course the yards and yards of newsprint devoted to analysis and talking heads populating the screen.
So, did 'no' win? Did timidity win over temerity? Is it a case of Business as Usual?
I really, really hope not.
This campaign has demonstrated irrefutably that people can become engaged with politics, can engage with difficult issues, and do make a difference. This much the politicos have acknowledged, and so far have made a lot of noise about making changes, including what is in effect a Devo Max deal for Scotland. Yet what politicians such as David Cameron and Ed Miliband are good at is playing a long game - that is, they will carry on being involved in the politics once the media fuss has died down and the circus has moved on to the next spectacle. And, being the politicians they are, they will carry on doing what they do and quietly hoping that it will be very much Business As Usual.
If that happens, we will only have ourselves to blame, should it be the case that what we really want is a change to the way power and money are shared across the country, but we do nothing to effect that change.
Democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people, and is far too precious to be left to a chamber of technocrats and people who've known each other since they were at school or university together. It has taken this referendum to reawaken the debates that should have dominated the political process since at least 2008. Look at what happens if we slumber: We have MPs' scandals expenses that rumble on but don't really change; We elect a police commissioner who won't resign despite his clear failure to act during the Rotherham child abuse scandal; We have bankers' bonuses rising once more to obscene levels, and the wealth gap between the very richest and the rest of us rising to levels that have not been seen for more than a hundred years; And we have a government that seems to flail in every contrary wind.
For this awakening, we should be grateful to the people of Scotland. And if we lose our freedom, having been shown it, then shame on us.

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