I don’t agree with social media posts that taunt people who voted ‘No’ in last year’s Independence Referendum.
You will have seen them: every time we have another right-wing Tory policy imposed on Scotland, someone will post – “No voters, are you happy now? This is what you voted for.”
I don’t like such messages because people who voted ‘No’ did so for a number of reasons. There is no single explanation for why 55% of Scots chose to remain within the British Union.
It is, of course, absolutely correct that the pro-independence campaign warned a ‘No’ vote would mean the Tories continuing to govern Scotland even after we had again rejected them at the ballot box. Some people voted ‘No’ for that very reason; because they are Tories and the only way they would see a Tory Government is if the votes of Scots were nullified through being outnumbered by votes from England.
There are others who chose to vote ‘No’ based on bigoted social and quasi-religious beliefs – Queen, Union flag, Rule Britannia, Conservative and Unionist Party, Glasgow Rangers. Many of those ‘No’ voters turned-out in Glasgow’s George Square on the evening of September 19 to gloat about their triumph and proclaim their perceived dominance over those who favoured Scotland becoming a normal, independent nation. Their aggression was in marked contrast to ‘YES’ supporters who had been partying in George Square despite defeat in the referendum.
Many Scots voted ‘No’ because they believed the scare-stories of the British Unionist side and feared the sun really would stop rising in the morning if Scotland took control over its own affairs.
The reasons people voted ‘No’ are disparate, but what links them is that the beliefs behind them were genuinely-held, even those of the Union-flag-waving bigots in George Square. That’s not to say they were valid or correct, just genuinely-held.
Other than Tories and UKIP supporters, I don’t believe anyone voted ‘No’ in order to produce a society that targeted and punished the poor, while cutting taxes for the wealthy.
As stated above, the pro-independence campaign did warn further cuts and austerity would be the result of a ‘No’ vote and a re-elected Tory Government. The ‘YES’ campaign even produced independently-verified facts to back-up this assertion, but these were ignored by a large section of Scottish society who chose, instead, to believe the scare-mongering propaganda of the British Unionist side and its state broadcaster, the BBC. Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance – where someone continues to hold beliefs, even when they have been disproved.
However, reality is harder to dismiss, and what we are currently witnessing proves beyond any doubt that the warnings of the ‘YES’ campaign were totally accurate.
The UK Tory Government is about to slash a further £12bn from budgets providing much-needed services to the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country.
Before the referendum, British Unionist parties promised if Scots voted ‘No’, Westminster would deliver to Scotland the most powerful devolved parliament in the world – they even made it a ‘vow’. Last week, though, while the UK Parliament debated the Scotland Bill, Scots were shown our true position within the British Union.
Scottish MPs backed Full Fiscal Autonomy (where Scotland would be responsible for raising and spending its own money); more control over welfare-spending and reforms (including the power to top-up inadequate benefit-payments and abolish the Bedroom Tax); and remove Westminster’s power to veto any decision taken by the democratically-elected Scottish Parliament. These proposals were all thrown-out because the Tory Government used its English MPs to out-vote Scotland’s MPs.
To rub salt into the wound, English Tories cheered and waved their Order Papers in the House of Commons as they celebrated their ‘victory’ in defeating the aspirations of Scots.
The very next day, Tories announced plans to introduce English Votes for English Legislation (EVEL) because, they argued, it would be wrong for Scots to possibly influence the outcome of votes in the UK Parliament that related to legislation affecting England. Clearly the Tories don’t do irony.
The reality is that the UK Parliament in London is actually the English Parliament. Some Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish are allowed to sit in the House of Commons in order to give the pretence of a British Union. However, Westminster is England’s Parliament.
In 1707 when the parliaments of England and Scotland were supposedly united, the reality was that Scotland’s parliament in Edinburgh ceased to exist, while England’s parliament in London continued as normal. England effectively assumed the ‘right’ to govern Scotland.
The past week has shown that, even with devolution, England still exerts its power to govern Scotland. With 59 Scottish MPs (56 of whom support an independent Scotland) compared to England’s 533, the reality is that, within the British Union, English MPs will always defeat Scottish MPs in any vote. Scotland cannot win within the British Union.
The only way for Scots to secure the powers we need to radically transform Scotland and build the better, fairer, more successful society we say we want, is for us to re-take our political independence and join the global community of normal, independent nations.
More and more Scots have realised they were lied-to by the British Unionist side during the Independence Referendum: more and more Scots now recognise we must embrace independence in order to break-free from Tory-imposed austerity. Remember, the Tory Party imposing its will on us has just one MP in Scotland.
Since the referendum, thousands of people who voted ‘No’ have moved to support pro-independence parties. If that were not the case, the SNP could not have secured its record-breaking victory at the UK Election in May.
People who voted ‘No’ last September should not be taunted when the Tories impose more brutal cuts or when English MPs laugh and cheer as they vote-down the proposals of Scottish MPs. It is more beneficial to the cause of independence to simply draw to the attention of ‘No’-voters the undemocratic, anti-Scottish reality playing-out at the UK Parliament in London.
Last September’s ‘No’-voters include people who now know they were duped and who will vote ‘YES’ when they next get the chance.
English Tories can laugh and gloat all they like when crushing the hopes of Scots but, ultimately, they are powerless to stop Scotland’s movement towards independence.
It’s only a matter of time.