It all started with a question, a question with a simple Yes/No answer.
You’d think such a question wouldn’t cause very many problems, but it seems on Thursday it did. Yes today I’m talking about the Scottish independence referendum. If you dislike discussing politics (and let me assure you I’m one to avoid discussing to normally) then turn back before it’s too late! For the rest of you I’ll try to keep this brief, but who knows.
As an Englishman, I sat down on Thursday night with some Uni work expecting to have a good all-nighter and keep an eye on what Scotland would decide. The outcome didn’t really bother me, Yes or No, either way. As far as I saw it, if Scotland said no, things wouldn’t really be all that different. If Scotland said yes, even though it would change world as we know, I didn’t really see how it would effect me. It’s like terrorism, a horrible blight on the world and terrifying, but (not wanting to be insensitive) when all is said and done, the only direct effect it seems to have on me is that I don’t have a bin to put my rubbish in at the train station (although I recognise that this is very different for those who effected first hand).
So there I was watching the results as Clackmannanshire’s results came in (a place no-one knew existed before Thursday) and watched as all the others followed, and as the night progressed into morning it became increasingly clear that the “No’s” had it. This disappointed me at first, it seemed rather anti-climatic. At least a “Yes” vote would have been an interesting socio-political experiment.
But then it dawned on me what “No” actually meant. And all I have to say is “Scotland… thanks a lot”.
Compared to what’s happening/needs to happen now sorting out an independent Scotland would have been a walk in the park! Now we’ve got devolution of additional powers to Holyrood. Possible additional powers for Northern Ireland. And who knows what on earth is going to happen to Wales (which no one ever seems to remember).
And then there’s England and that West Lothian problem (another thing most people didn’t know existed before Thursday) A 40 year old problem that Cameron thinks we can solve in a weekend — an exaggeration but still a can of worms if ever there was one. Given, it has never sat right with me that Scotland can make their own rules for themselves and then decide what happens over the border too. It’s certainly never felt right that someone living in Manchester has to pay tuition fees and prescriptions and people in Glasgow don’t.
But that’s not the real issue here. If Scotland had said yes, it would have meant big changes in Scotland and some adjustments for the rest of the UK. Scotland saying no to independence, however, has altered everything for everyone. The UK will never be the same again.
And the worst thing is, is that the politicians seem as taken a back by the whole thing as much as the rest of us. What we have now is speculation, confusion and uncertainty. And with a General Election coming up next year, things could get pretty messy over the coming months.
Don’t get me wrong I’m excited by the prospect of change. But it’s crazy to think that in a matter of months the whole of UK politics could be unrecognizable from what it was on Wednesday (if that hasn’t happened already), and I think the change is going the biggest in England. And I think that’s good, we’ve complained for long enough that we’re unrepresented; that MPs and Westminster are becoming more distant; that General Elections with their TV debates are becoming more like a Presidential election than a discussion of a party’s principles; that the system doesn’t work and all the parties are as bad each other. It’s high time change occurred and I for one think it’s a good thing!
I just hope that it gets done properly. Scotland have had the last two years to mull things over and now it’s time for the rest of the UK to do the same.
Scotland has had it’s say. Now it’s our turn.
Postscript: There will be Ninja next week, I promise…