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This is not the saddest day of my life. There have been worse, much worse.

However it is the end of a dream, a vision of Scotland appearing in its own right among the list of nations in those drop-down menus that you see on websites, and becoming a member of the United Nations. That isn’t going to happen now, not in my lifetime, and I regret it. Next time those who voted ‘No’ yesterday sing ‘Flower of Scotland‘, they should omit the lines about rising and being a nation again, lest their voices are drowned out by the sound of Roy Williamson turning in his grave.

At the same time I accept that it is a choice made by 55% of my fellow Scots, out of a record turn-out of 85%, and I respect it. While doing so, I respect and admire also the SNP for securing the referendum, and the ‘Yes’ campaign for bringing out 1.6 million Scots on the day to vote for their nation to be restored.

While I am not bitter about the outcome (privately, I expected it) I cannot find anything good to say about the Better Together campaign. Its slogan may have been attractive but its tactics were not. It played falsely upon the fears of the old for the security of their pensions, and it whipped up alarm among the comfortable classes that somehow their cash and their investments would become valueless in the event of a Yes victory. It did so with the tacit encouragement of its Westminster masters and with the backing of the London media. Its performance has been shameful throughout and even after the campaign, with today’s Daily Mail, an execrable journal, vilifying Andy Murray for his last minute support of independence.

For all today’s result, it can be argued that Better Together failed. It did not preserve the status quo. With two weeks left in the campaign, a single poll showed Yes in the lead, after months of steady returns indicating the opposite. That was enough to send a wave of fear through Westminster, for Alastair Darling to be pushed to one side, and for the three wise monkeys to appear among us, making ill-defined promises of a new deal for Scotland.

Today the focus will shift to those promises. The Prime Minister is still in a funk, for he has been very quick to offer a new constitutional settlement for the entire United Kingdom, and he will not be able to avoid it. There will be implications for England as well as Scotland, since part of that settlement is almost certain to include an agreement that Scots Westminster MPs will no longer vote on areas in England that have been devolved to Holyrood. Tam’s West Lothian question will be answered at last. Labour will still have their Scottish votes, but only on defence, foreign policy etc. The  natural Tory English majority will  be in place in part . . . if it exists after 2015.

What now for the SNP, with its sine qua non now out of reach? That may depend to an extent on how much energy and ambition is left in Alex Salmond, but assuming the he is still up for the fight there is much for it do do in the future.

First and foremost it must get the most for Scotland out of Westminster’s constitutional review. We may see the Barnett formula coming under attack. If that happens, all tax-raising powers should be devolved to Scotland with a new Scottish HMRC, reporting to Holyrood. If England says that we are getting more than we contribute and seeks to change that, fine, let us go it alone. Gordon Brown seems to be in charge of this exercise, having virtually taken over the ‘No’ campaign in its last few days. That does not fill me with confidence, but al least it gives him a chance to show the country that finally he can get something right.

Beyond that, the SNP can and must remain as the dominant force in Scottish electoral politics. God knows, the other parties are populated by pygmies in comparison. Its next ambition should be to repeat its success in 2011 by increasing its support in next year’s General Election, with the objective of securing a bloc of seats that will make it a force in any coalition wrangling that might follow the result. Having lost the fight to take us out of the parliamentary union with Westminster, its next battle may be to help keep us in Europe.

What now for me? My lifetime ambition is gone; I’ll never hold my Scottish passport. But to be truthful, it never was the most important thing in my life. I have far greater priorities, and greater loves; their names are Rex and Mia, plus their granny, their parents and their aunts and uncles. They’ll fill all of my thoughts next week, when I go back to work. After the events of the last few months, it will be good to be closeted once again with Bob Skinner.

Categories: General, Politics
  1. Montaltoman
    September 19, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Perhaps we exiles can stop singing that offensive Corries dirge and go back to ‘Scotland the Brave’ ! Pass the hemlock, eh Jim.

  2. Justin Fayre
    September 19, 2014 at 9:44 am

    The open goal awaited the tap in.
    The try line beckoned only inches away
    The striker tripped
    The player fumbled and dropped the ball
    Scotland’s inbred talent for Glorious Failure
    Scotland’s learned helplessness in the National Psyche surfaced.
    Yes we did it again
    Ripped success from the grasp of the people
    In 1979 Scottish Labour blared “Vote LABOUR to keep Thatcher out”
    I said the people of Scotland would never fall for that
    The people of Scotland fell for it.
    In 2014 Westminster Mobile said
    “We’re sorry Scotland for the piss poor Customer Service. We’re sorry for destroying your industry.
    “We’re sorry Scotland for frittering away your wealth on our wars and making the filthy rich filthier and richer
    But hey stay with us and we’ll give you an extra 100 minutes and an extra 100 texts”
    I said the people of Scotland will never fall for that.
    The people of Scotland fell for it.
    They got one out of three right
    Scotland isn’t too wee, Scotland isn’t too poor.
    Scotland though is too stupid and is now the laughing stock of the world.

    • September 19, 2014 at 11:47 am

      I don’t agree with your conclusion, but you’re free to express it. I don’t go with the conspiracy stuff though and won’t have it here.

      1979, whatever Labour said saw the Tories increase their seats in Scotland by 6, to 22. They returned 21 in 1983, then we had Rifkind, Lang and Forsyth in succession as SofS. The first two dug the grave and Forsyth filled it in 1997, with the Nil return and the disappearance of the SCP as a serious political force.

  3. Diana
    September 19, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Sorry it did not go the way you had hoped.

    I must say that I was getting sick of the often crazy rhetoric from both sides, with pictures of screaming ‘neds’ (again on both sides). At least the decision was fairly solid, so no bickering, which is what I had feared might have happened had the result been very close, either way.

    Scotland can be proud of being Scotland, Scots proud of being Scots, and boy, oh boy, it was the most momentous vote I can remember. Scots haven’t lost anything. (They may even have gained quite a bit.). All in all Scots just didn’t get the final hoped for prize.

    In the meantime my sons, twins, won’t have different nationalities. That prospect has caused us much amusement after a dram or two. Lets lift a glass to what was fought for, what good has been done, and pray that inter UK friendship will still be strong. Slainte!

    September 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Hello my friend,
    One of us was always going to be sad today, I don’t like it when my friends are sad…
    I think or rather hope some good will come of this, in as much as many people will have learned more about their respective countries and the power that they have.
    Thanks to you I have learned a lot.
    I’ve put you on my “bucket list”, who knows one day I may be lucky to meet you..
    On a lighter note, when you see “Mr Skinner” will you tell him that they are showing re-runs of series one and four, of Blue Bloods and I’m viewing “Danny” in a whole new light.
    Take care

  5. Pat wright
    September 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    My condolences on the failure of reason over hype! I am as disappointed as if I were a Scot by birth. Wonder if Cameron’s pre-election promises for a fairer deal can be taken to the bank!

  6. Fergus
    September 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Scotland has never been and will never be the laughing stock of the world! Although the result was NO, the eyes of the world are focussed there because, if Cameron comes up with the “promised goods,” Wales, Catalunya, Brittany, Corsica, the Basque country among many others will request the same. Victory can always be drawn from defeat.

  7. September 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    The clear indication already is that they can’t. Miliband can’t accept the block on Scots MPs voting on English affairs. If anything is to be done along the timescale that Brown proposes it will need consensus. There is also the problem that many Tories, Boris Johnson among them don’t like the Barnett formula which calculates Scotland’s share of the public spending budget.

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