From the prospective of many relieved ‘No’ voters, an unknown economic minefield has been avoided. Plenty of articles have been written about the relief of Thursday’s result, and some journalists in the London-based press have been writing off 45% of Scottish voters as “narrow nationalists”, angering many ‘Yes’ voters for whom the vote was not an endorsement of the SNP. The press’s unacceptable gloating should be ignored by anyone who realises how close the union has come to being broken. ‘Yes’ voters will however face an alternative feeling; one of a resounding disappointment, yet we must also respond to the referendum result with hope.
The power plays in London will now commence, and the Conservative government will begin to deal with the last minute pledges made on the advice of a former Labour prime minister; one whom, if Scottish Labour has any sense, will be headhunting for leader immediately. Gordon Brown has been reborn in this campaign. For ‘Yes’ voters, these negotiations must be scrutinised, as hard as it is to watch. One thing is clear: a large part of what secured the ‘No’ vote this election was the tactical campaign switch, made by Brown, to a more hopeful and positive message, promising change to those disenfranchised who could only see ‘Yes’ as an escape route.
The Better Together campaign, up until Brown’s intervention, was losing the battle. This means that these pledges are essential to guaranteeing that the will of the Scottish people is acted upon. Any squirming by Paterson, or Hague, or Johnson, should and will rightly be seized upon by a First Minister looking for a new purpose. The pledges must be honoured, and the Barnett Formula, despite its inconsistencies, must continue to exist. Any renege on this could easily result in uniting the Scottish people who have been divided by this vote.
Where does this leave Scotland? The country now seems to face, until January at least, an uneasy political limbo, as the electorate accepts that the vote was unanimous, undeniable and totally divisive to our people. We must seize upon the benefits of the Union; even the most ardent ‘Yes’ voter can see that it provides economic stability and military security. While it may have seemed to some that the ‘No’ vote signals a death of all the momentum that this vote has brought to Scotland, let us show that this will not be the case. We have voted, superficially at least, for the status quo, but there are still massive inequalities at the heart of our society. Let us take this opportunity to use every resource that the UK can offer us and unite to counter against these economic imbalances.
One of the three pledges made by the three party leaders on the front of The Daily Record is for fairness, prosperity and welfare for every citizen. The UK’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, shows it is currently more financially unequal than France, Canada, Slovakia and Bangladesh. This level of inequality cannot continue if these promises are to be honoured. Let us make sure that every progressive ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ voter unites to fight together to achieve, hopefully, a more equal society. Scotland has spoken, and it is now up to us to make sure we are listened to.