It’s too early in the day for me to say anything heartfelt that’s positive and encouraging, but that will come I’m sure. For now I’m mourning the vision we came a mere 5% away from building. I may be on the losing side, but I’ll never accept I picked the wrong one. And yes, for the record, I’m devastated.
The parts of Scotland that called the loudest to leave the United Kingdom were the parts that have the highest levels of poverty and deprivation. That sticks in my throat as it must for all of us. There is no ringing endorsement of the union in Scotland today. I wish I could shake magnanimously and say “congratulations and well played, the best side won”, but I just can’t lie like that. In the end I believe it was ultimately fear that robbed us, and that we at least gave it one hell of a fight.
It was always clear that whatever the outcome, Scotland would have to accept the vote, regroup and move forward as one, and so we must. Had it been a Yes today, no one would have been saying that louder than I. But moving forward as one doesn’t mean just under half of us either altering what we believe is right and what is wrong, or accepting defeat and quietly shuffling back to our sofas. If anyone today is delighting that everything can finally return to normal: I’m sorry. That was a warm-up. We’re just getting started.
An interesting phenomenon when out canvassing recently, and in particular yesterday, the day after the 51/49 YouGov poll was published: I’ve been having a lot more longer conversations with No voters than usual. Up to now they have nearly always been keen to end the conversation as quickly as possible and shut the door (almost always they were perfectly civil about it, I must add). I’m totally fine with this too, as it gives me more time to spend with the “don’t knows”; as a rule I never even try to argue with a committed No voter on the doorstep.
But these last few days, I’d say that’s changed considerably. A lot of them now want to talk in depth, and ask me questions about what would happen and the extent to which various outcomes had been thought through and prepared for. It hasn’t been unpleasant or acrimonious, and I strongly suspect they’ll all still vote no, but it feels more as if they want to be reassured that things might not actually be as bad as they’ve been told now that they can sense a real possibility that independence might happen. They suddenly seem to want to hear our side.
However, I would say though that any attempt the people I spoke to made to seek out and understand the case for independence up to now appears to be negligible; questions from definite No voters I’ve been asked during canvassing lately have all been very easy questions to answer. For example, one well spoken and I’d guess well educated lady in a big old Edinburgh house last night was insistent that not only would Westminster refuse a currency union, they’d also refuse to let us use Sterling unilaterally and they certainly wouldn’t let us peg a Scottish Pound to Sterling. Very basic stuff, and easy to sort out for them.
So, to my fellow Yes voting friends: please be ready for stuff like this. We haven’t won yet so please don’t let up, BUT … please take care when asked for your views by a No voter. They might well be looking for reassurance rather than a fight. The same possibility of change that we’re all so excited about scares a lot of them, and that isn’t their fault. Remember they’ve been told by Better Together et al. to be afraid as much as we have, if not more so. You probably won’t change their vote at this stage, but you might just change their mindset.