I’m not a Scot and I don’t live in Scotland… so I didn’t get a vote in last week’s referendum. But I’ve been fascinated by the attitude+views of those who did and by the process… and by the fall-out (which will obviously continue over the coming weeks/months/years). As I get older(!), I find that my political views have become more focussed, but I despair whenever politicians tell us that “we’re all in this together”… when we’re clearly not (the rich+the poor/the haves+the have-nots).Over the years, I’ve become increasingly disillusioned by national politicians (of all parties) and by the focus on London and the Westminster establishment (not to mention the yah-boo politics of PMQs).
Unfortunately, I also feel politically naïve, somewhat apathetic and irrelevant.
The 84.5% referendum turn-out was incredibly impressive (and every vote counted!), but I found it extraordinary (but, somehow, not at all surprising) that it was only after THAT opinion poll (some 10 days before the vote?) which gave the “yes” campaign a lead that there was panic amongst the Westminster mafia. And it was only AFTER THAT that we suddenly started hearing all sorts of back-of-a-fag-packet promises about a better deal for Scotland.
In some ways, I’m left feeling fearful for the future of the UK. I find Cameron’s “English votes for the English” knee-jerk announcement on Friday morning to placate the Tory right-wing and the pressure from UKIP worrying (oh… and would he still be Prime Minister of the whole of the UK?). The Labour Party needs to get its act together… very quickly (I thought Anne McElvoy’s comment in today’s Observer was telling: “Miliband’s outing north of the border looked more like the walkabout of a fast-tracked trainee than the CEO of Labour”.
The fact remains that (in the words of Deborah Orr in yesterday’s Guardian… sorry, I don’t read the Telegraph!) “Cameron has already made it clear that Westminster will be doing the talking and debating, and that the electorate will be doing the listening”.
On the other hand, I feel that the Scottish Referendum could actually have a powerful, galvanising affect on British politics. I found these comments (again in the Observer… sorry!) fascinating and hugely encouraging:
1. “This campaign wasn’t about politicians persuading people how to vote, but people persuading politicians… At some point in late spring, the official yes campaign lost control as spontaneous small groups set themselves up and breakfast tables, lounge bars, bus top decks and hospital canteens began to talk politics. What sort of Scotland? Why do we tolerate this or that? Now, in Denmark they do it this way…” (Neal Ascherson).
2. “On both sides of the referendum, people were energised by an astonishing proposition: take everything you're used to in politics and imagine you could put it to one side and start again. At that, the people did the talking and politicians were forced to listen” (Armando Iannucci).
The question is: will anything have changed (for the better) by the time of the General Election? There are just 227 days to go!