The morning after the day before

Yesterday was an extraordinary day in Scotland. I don’t think that any of us really knew how tense it was all going to get until the day itself.

There is much to celebrate in the turn-out, which was phenomenal. In recent weeks, people have engaged in a political process in ways I’ve never seen before and which to be honest I couldn’t have foreseen.

Last night I tweeted that I was hoping for a No vote but that if it was a Yes then I hoped that the Yes would be overwhelming. In the end the vote was a slightly stronger No than most people seemed to think possible at the end. However, the truth is, no-one that I spoke to yesterday during the polling was prepared even to guess. We simply didn’t know what the outcome would be.

I have to say that though I was clear that I was hoping for a no vote, there has been much that has impressed me in the Yes campaign. Much of that campaign was positive and throughout the campaign it did indeed seem as though the momentum lay there.

I’ve been consistently unimpressed by the Better Together campaign. It was negative and miserable throughout. It never represented what I felt at all. I was far more impressed with the campaign run by those with whom I disagreed on the independence question itself.

The Yes campaign won the social media battle hands down but not the wider argument. And I think the reality is that Independence has been decided for a generation. This was the time for that change if it was ever going to happen – an ineffective Labour party in Scotland, a hated coalition of  Liberal Democrats and Tories in government, charismatic and hopeful leadership on the Yes side and the most powerful street campaigning I’ve ever seen were all things that seemed to make the case for change more powerful.

Those of us in Scotland have decided that we don’t want to leave the United Kingdom. However let the message ring out that no-one who voted yesterday wants to live in Foodbank Britain.

I found listening to those who disagreed with me on the Independence Question that I very often agreed with them on their motivation for seeking significant change.

I remain convinced that the only solution to the West Lothian Question that will be stable is major constitutional change in a federal direction. I’m not satisfied by the idea that Westminster can continue as usual but with Scottish MPs just not voting on matters that affect England only. I want to see an English Parliament. I want to see major reform of the House of Lords. I want to see more devolution towards local government. I want to see fairer (and slightly higher) taxation, particularly a higher council tax to pay for better local services decided on by local people.

We have disagreed about how to achieve change but there are values that have come to the fore, largely through the incredible campaign that the Yes side have fought that we can unite around. I have many friends who will be disappointed, hugely disappointed today. However there is an enormous amount in which they can be very proud. An outstanding turnout, a campaign that brought social justice right to the fore, change being talked about by everyone in politics and political engagement across the board from people who have never cared or voted before. These things have changed Scotland for the better and when the dust settles we will see that things can never be the same again.

One of the members of my own congregation who is one of the strongest supporters of the Yes campaign I know said to me yesterday, “Even if it is No, Yes has won”. He meant, I think that the positivity of the Yes campaign can’t be killed off and that constitutional change is coming anyway. I know that he and many others will be disappointed by the actual result. However, I agreed with him yesterday and I agree with him today.



  1. Neil Oliver says

    Kelvin, I agree with much of what you’ve said here, particularly your paragraph on the merits of the Better Together campaign. I truly hope the energy in campaigning for a socially just Scotland and in the wider UK can continue.

  2. Rosemary Hannah says

    The problem with more powers for local government is that it is the least trusted and most corrupt wing of government, even in many places where one instinctively feels it ought to be a voice and a power for change.

  3. Derek says

    I hope you’re right but given the most recent WM polls from last week a likely outcome for Scotland is that there will be another Tory govt elected next year, and an EU referendum after that – who knows what will happen with UKIP. I wish there were signs for the reforms you mention but I can only sense self interested political party manouvering. I hope there’s a wider movement for local democracy and dispersed power that follows on from the yes campaign. I feel like yesterday was an opportunity missed but am still hopeful.

  4. Isobel says

    Thankyou for this – today seems a little dreich.

  5. I shall continue to bang on about the immoral and absurd retention of nuclear weapons by what is going to continue as the UK – especially when the only place to keep them seems to be on my doorstep. There you are – moral high ground and nimbyism in one neat parcel.

  6. Fiona says

    Absolutely Kelvin. I believe that the vast majority of the Scottish electorate agree on the things we want to change. We just have different ideas about how best these changes can be effected. I’m sad that people are still posting on social media that the “other” side are, to paraphrase, numpties.

  7. The so called “middle class” turned their noses up at a possible egalitarian state.

  8. Liked your post.Hope there is no Glasgie “kissin”this w/e.personally I’m glad it’s a No vote so the Queen won’t need Her passport to stay at Balmoral.

  9. Glaesga in Scots. Glasgie in Liverpool (I have no idea why). And it’s not our ” “kissin” ” you have to watch but our smiles. I liked what Kelvin said on Twitter about the need for a commitment for social justice not just reconciliation. otherwise it’s the tyranny of niceness and papering over the cracks. It was “truth and reconciliation” in SA and although our situation is in no way comparable, theirs can still inspire us.
    I think Kelvin also put his finger on what’s been wrong with this referendum: odd bedfellows. We’ve had people voting one way out of international socialist solidarity; greed; fear; or not a little sectarianism (I witnessed this at a polling station outside Glasgow and I suspect it was a factor in S. Lanarkshire). we’ve had people voting the other out of think-global-act-local values; community values; Anglophobia; or nostalgia for The Corries (I really hope no-one was influenced by Mel Gibson but I suspect there were some).
    Therefore, to be cheery about the turnout is valid but to be complacent that we all voted for social justice in our own wee ways, is not. The referendum didn’t make the choice clear. It was a leap of faith into an unspecified future of going it alone versus business as usual or perhaps unspecified changed with an unspecified timetable – the latter becoming (as YES voters predicted) more and more unspecified as the days go on.
    Speaking as a YES voter, this is what helps:
    1 young people got involved in politics
    2 the majority of people I know, whatever they voted for, voted for noble reasons
    This is what doesn’t help:
    1 mixing up the Union of the Crowns with the Union of the Parliaments
    2 using the USA and ‘secession’ as analogous to the UK
    3 the retrospective admission by NO voters of the greed and fear of much of the NO THANKS campaign – admission before the vote may have stopped YES voters feeling so patronised
    4 lack of admission by YES voters that Anglophobia was a factor for some voters in this referendum, and continues to be a reality in Scotland
    5 political commentators using metaphors of torture for holding people accountable
    So, to do my bit for truth and reconciliation, I admit that I was so busy being really angry at people dismissing my thoughtfully worded comments as Anglophobic, that I neglected to publicly take on board that this kind of prejudice is quite real in my native country and that it is especially incumbent upon us as Scots to stamp it out.
    I’m sorry about that and I pledge to do better in future. Please don’t hold my feet to the fire. I’m vegetarian and my shoes will quite possibly melt.

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