Today’s referendum on Scottish independence is a day that has been a long time coming, and may take a lot longer to forget. Ever since the 1979 referendum, when the establishment lied about North Sea oil deposits, and added an extra hurdle of a minimum percentage of the electorate voting, to fend off even devolution, the clock has been ticking towards a real and final showdown. In other words, a full and free vote on independence was inevitable.
And the ‘full’ part is particularly notable. This referendum has energized the electorate. Everyone is talking about it. Good or bad, everyone feels involved with something at risk. My concern is that part of the interest is driven by a young electorate too ready to spout slogans, high on emotion, with little regard for facts, facts, or facts. Some of the manifestations of this have looked like football supporters, cheering on their team to victory, with all the bad connotations associated with that hostile environment. Think Rangers v Celtic, without the restraint.
If the vote is ‘No’, those who lose out are likely to harbor a grudge for a while. Because this is probably a once in a generation opportunity. And if the vote is ‘Yes’ those who lose out may not hang around to find out if a wing and a prayer are sufficient capital for a new country.
Whichever way the vote goes, expect recriminations, analysis, and ongoing political fallout. Fascinating – but only if you are watching from the sidelines.
Right now, all I am going to do is offer my prayers that whatever happens, it turns out to be for the best for the people of Scotland. Every single one of them.