The Scots voted against independence yesterday. At the time the BBC called the referendum election, the No votes (those voting against the referendum for independence) had garnered 54% of the votes counted.
Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party and leader of the pro-independence movement, conceded the referendum loss late last night:
— Sky News Newsdesk (@SkyNewsBreak) September 19, 2014
There was nothing else on the ballot, just the question of independence.
The voting age was lowered to 16, and record voter turnout was expected as Scots decided to keep their union with Great Britain intact.
97% of the Scottish electorate registered to vote for the referendum, an amazingly horrifying fact.
Had Scotland declared their independence, the UK would’ve been thrown into turmoil, Scotland would’ve had to cobble together some semblance of a government, military, social services and all that good bureaucratic stuff, and we’d likely see a disaster of a ‘new’ country.
Leading the charge for independence were progressives who sought to bring a greater sense of social justice to the highlands. At one point in the BBC election coverage, a member of the SNP mentioned quite candidly that the push for independence was in direct response to the fact that Westminster had lurched what was in his mind, too far to the right.
Time and time again, members of the SNP expressed their desire to change Scotland, that the people wanted change, and that Westminster wasn’t listening; platitudes that sounded a little too familiar for comfort. At no point was a plan discussed, nor was there any discussion as to what type of change was needed to usher in a new era of greatness, only that Scotland must change!
Even more interesting were the round table discussions. It was like watching a modern day re-enactment of American revolutionary arguments, just with Scottish accents and minus the war part. That Westminster didn’t listen, that taxes on the Scots were higher than taxes on the English, that the Scots were beholden to a government who taxed them without their direct vote — were all topics of great debate. There was much discussion of federalism and the perpetual struggle between local governments and centralized government. Queen Elizabeth II however, was spared the indignation King George III received.
Salmond promised not to bring up the referendum again if it failed, so it’s a safe bet we won’t see another vote for independence any time soon. Evidently, the Brits are more honorable in their political agreements then our elected officials.
The referendum vote will change the political landscape of the UK, and likely redefine the UK as we’ve come to know it. Prior to the referendum, the leaders of the three political parties signed a pledge that would begin the devolution of power, or at least some of it, from Westminster to Holyrood in the event the Yes votes lost. The pledge gives Scotland much of what they were wanting without abject freedom. The BBC explains the pledge had three main components:
The first part of the agreement promises “extensive new powers” for the Scottish Parliament “delivered by the process and to the timetable agreed” by the three parties.
The second says the leaders agree that “the UK exists to ensure opportunity and security for all by sharing our resources equitably”.
The third “categorically states” that the final say on funding for the NHS will lie with the Scottish government “because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue”.
The Barnett formula is the method used to determine the distribution of public spending around the UK.
So while the UK remains united, the balance of power will likely shift. For now, Europe as we know it stays roughly the same. That is until Russia gets greedy again or the pro-independence movement in Catalonia is more successful than the SNP.
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Featured image courtesy of Caleb Howe. Yes, it’s photoshopped.DONATE
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