Scotland voted No on September the 18th 2014. With a majority of 55 % or 2,001,926 votes against and 45 % or 1,617,989 people who voted Yes. The result is clear.
However, the enthusiasm, energy and power of the Yes campaign has exceeded any political campaign I have ever experienced in my life. It was phenomenal to see so many people engaged in politics, with a record number of voter registration of 97 % and a turnout of 86 % on election day.
“record number of voter registration of 97 % and a turnout of 86 % on election day”
When campaigning for any regular election, participation is relatively low and people do not really engage with the issues of the campaign. However, in this case, it was almost impossible to walk along though a street and not see a sign of solidarity with either campaign. The YES campaign was much move visible in all aspects but visibility does not guarantee success!
We, Scotish Young Greens, were actively involved in campaigning for independence and we had support from across Europe for this campaign. Some commentators but also people in Scotland have warned about Nationalism. The support from Greens across Europe was important as we, as part of the wider Green movement in Scotland, did not consider this vote to be about nationalism, but about self-determination, regionalism and local decision making.
“What will happen to…?” Was one of the most common questions by Better Together, the official name of the organisation campaigning for a No vote. The uncertainty and the fear of an unstable, unpredictable future was the key argument of Better Together. The currency question, EU membership, economic stability and job security portrayed voting YES as something risky and unsafe to choose. The BBC, and other media outlets have been accused by many, including the first minister Alex Salmond, to have been biased during the campaign and favour the No side.
Even though, Scotland could do so much better! The YES side inspired. It made people dream of what is possible, highlighting current inequalities across Britain and asking really hard question of why nothing has happened to improve this situation for so many people for decades.
Britain has the highest infant mortality rate in Western Europe, one of the worst child poverty rates in the industrialised world – we can do better than that! In addition questioning the Status quo and highlighting what independence could do for Scotland was truly visionary and very realistic; free eduction enshrined in a written constitution; getting rid of nuclear weapons which are located in Scotland and people in Scotland would get the government they actually have voted for were key arguments. Besides those arguments, it would also address the so called democratic deficit in the UK, which can be summarized as the House of Lords, a disproportionate voting system and the West Lothian Question.
“The YES campaign was truly uniting, engaging and reached voters who have been disengaged for years”
The YES campaign was truly uniting, engaging and reached voters who have been disengaged for years. The reality of a No vote is a win for the establishment and London-centred, elitist, outdated and selfish style of politics. Since the referendum thousands of people have joined the Scottish Greens and the Young Greens because of that very feeling, and the urge and realisation that we need to to take action! The task ahead will be to engage those newcomers, continue to campaign for change and keep up the incredible positive mass engagement we experienced over the last months. We can’t wait to get started.