Many ‘Yes’ voters in the referendum were really saying ‘No’: a deep-fried Scottish No to all of the Westminster political parties, which opposed independence. And who could blame them for that? Millions of English and Welsh voters feel the same way.
The trouble is that, while the ‘No’ vote left the United Kingdom formally intact, the fallout from the campaign has revealed deep divisions across UK politics. We might all be No’s now. But unless we can reclaim the Y-word and find some new basis for unity, the recriminations from events in Scotland are set to usher in a new era of petty divisions and political chaos across the UK.
Thousands of Yessers did not cast a positive vote for a free and radical Scotland. No such choice was offered by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party, which emphasised how little would change in an ‘independent’ Scotland where both HM the Queen and the Queen Vic in EastEnders would still rule.
Instead they cast a negative vote against the alien-looking UK political elite. Salmond and his SNP government ultimately lost. Yet they conjured up one-and-a-half-million votes out of Scotch mist by turning Yes into a protest against the UK parties. The result was that, possibly for the first time in history, 45 per cent of an electorate effectively cast a protest vote in favour of their government. Little wonder Yes support was high among disaffected working-class voters in Glasgow and Dundee.
In reality, of course, the ruling Scottish political clique at Holyrood has as much contempt for ordinary punters as the Westminster set. The ‘progressive’ politics of the Scottish parliament are mostly about policing the lifestyle of the peasants, from slapping ‘sin taxes’ on cheap booze to banning rude songs at football. Yet such is the ill-feeling towards the UK elite that the Sanctimonious Nanny Party could try to pose as the people’s champions against their wicked Westminster masters.