No Turning Back…

At 11.07 am today I voted in the Scottish independence referendum. I voted No. There is no turning back. But I’ve learned a lesson. Don’t reveal how you are going to vote too early. Because had the referendum been yesterday I would have voted Yes in a fit of pique.
The reason is I am sick to death of some people in England. I read the Daily Telegraph. A lot of writers to their letters page said that the rest of the UK should have voted on Scottish in dependence. Why? This is a matter for the people of Scotland alone. If say the majority of Scots had voted “Yes” but the rest of the UK had voted “No” the SNP – who are paranoid moaners at the best of times – would have been moaning even more than usual. And the point is I can’t think of an independence referendum where it was NOTdecided by the people of the part that wanted to break away. From Kosovo to Quebec it has been the people of the part that wanted to break away that decided not the greater whole. Why should the UK be any different?.
Secondly a lot of Telegraph readers (and the paper itself in today’s editorial) have been complaining about the fact that if a simple majority of Scots vote “Yes” independence will happen. Some want to make it say two-thirds of the vote should be for “Yes” for independence to happen. They don’t realise that causes more trouble than its worth.
Two examples prove this. In 1979 there was a referendum on wither there should be a Scottish Parliament. The UK Government at the time had no majority so it was forced to accept a clause by a rebel MP George Cunningham that 40% of the total electorate had to vote “Yes” for the parliament to happen. That meant dead people who had died since the electoral register had been compiled would count as “No” voters. As SNP MP Douglas Henderson pointed out if that rule had applied to post war UK General elections the country would never have had a government (Seasons In The Sun, Dominic Sandbrook, page 525). As it turned out, 51.6% of those who turned out voted “Yes” but that was only 32.6% of the electorate so the parliament never happened causing resentment to this day (the Scottish Parliament finally happened in 1997). In another context the former editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly Tim de Lisle was spot on. After a blocking minority of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) members had voted against admitting women members in 1998 (the vote was 55.7 “Yes” and 46.3% “No” but the motion needed a two-thirds majority*) he wrote in an editorial (October 1998) that “the only majority that works is a simple one. Otherwise you are likely to get the few dictating to the many”. A majority “Yes” vote that was stymied by an artificial barrier would be a disaster. It would fuel resentment and the Scots would not accept it. A repeat of 1979 can’t happen.
To my mind these people have no trust in the people of Scotland to do the right thing. I was so angry yesterday I snapped and said “F*** them I’m voting “Yes”. But I never wanted independence and realised I was being childish. The people down South should trust the Scottish people. I suspect the polls – that are predicting a “No” win by 51-49 – will be proved wrong and “No” will win by a bigger margin than that. Today is the day for the silent majority.
But the result of the referendum will not be the end but the beginning. On Saturday I will write about what should happen next – depending of course on how we have voted today.
* Later in 1998 there was another ballot on the issue. This time the two-thirds threshold was reached and women became eligible for MCC membership.

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