We will respect the referendum result, which means we won’t declare independence without holding another referendum, and we cannot hold another referendum without exhausting the alternatives first.
I’m still trying to gather my thoughts, which is hard when you feel tired, sad and deflated. However, I’ve listed below a few thoughts about what will need to happen now. Please leave comments with more suggestions for the future!
- It’s completely clear to me that No only won because many voters got the impression we’d get Devo Max if we voted No. I’ve always been very cynical about this, but we now need to do out very best to achieve Devo Max (or Home Rule), and/or federalism in the UK.
- The Yes movement needs to be preserved in some form, primarily to guard over this journey towards Home Rule, but also — if the No side reneges on its promises — to campaign for a new referendum because the No side didn’t deliver. It would be unfortunate if this became a purely party-political matter again.
- The SNP should rename itself — the word “national” makes too many people jump to the conclusion that it’s deep down an ethnic nationalist party (which it isn’t). As I’ve argued before, “sovereigntist” would be a better word. It gets a bit tiring to state over and over again that the nationalists in Scotland aren’t nationalists.
- We need more media in Scotland to represent the views of the 45% who voted Yes to independence. If the BBC’s bias problems cannot be resolved (for instance by devolving broadcasting), we need to create a new Scottish broadcaster. We also need to convince more or the newspapers that it’s in their own commercial interest to cater for the younger, pro-independence audience.
- We need to work hard on getting rid of the Scottish cringe. It would have happened on its own after a Yes vote, but now it’ll be much harder. We need to keep showing people that Scotland is big enough, rich enough and clever enough to be in charge of its own destiny. We also need to make people understand that Scottish culture isn’t inferior, and I think working on promoting the Scots language would be very helpful in this context, because it would show Scottish people that the traditional language of Scotland is part of Scotland’s proud heritage.
I do hope the fact that 45% of voters supported independence will tell Westminster that something has to change. If 70% of voters had voted No, I’ve no doubt that Westminster would have thought it’d be a great opportunity to get rid of the Barnett formula and such things, but they must now be scared. They know they only won this referendum by the skin of their teeth.