By now the dust is settling on the 55-45 margin the No camp had over the Yes.
The referendum was a pivotal point in a process, not an event. What we have witnessed is not a Bravehearty, Brigadoonish romantic ideal of couthy laddies and lassies doing eightsome reels free of the English yoke. It’s been a robust and educated debate about self-determination and rejection of the Essex-style barrow-boy culture of the South East. An ancillary debate has been around the role of the Scottish Westminster MPs. As one commentator put it, the “Westminster Highlanders and their English Pimps”.
According to polls over 80% of the under 40s are Yes supporters, with the reverse true for the over 55s. That is understandable if you consider that most over 55s grew up in an age when we were taught in school that Empire meant something with images of gallant British squaddies, some in the kilt, manning the furthest reaches of the Empire. We also had relatives who suffered through WW1 and WW2 and fought and perhaps died for Great Britain. It’s difficult not to view it as an insult to their memory to be a separatist.
There was also a tremendous amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt cast about an Independent Scotland’s financial status. Norway, Iceland, Belgium, Switzerland, Singapore are about the same size as Scotland. All stable and successful. So why not Scotland? To comfort the over 55s , the No campaign continually shouted that your pension will be worth nothing in an Independent Scotland. Even if is is vested with an English pension fund manager. Some of the arguments were so overblown, I expected Alastair Darling to announce there would be a plague of frogs and locusts and slaughter of all first born sons if Scotland voted Yes.
It also indicates that the English need to do some soul-searching about their own position in the UK. I have a sneaking suspicion that the English are afraid that they might make a right mess of having to do things for themselves without the slaves and whipping boys they have used for 300 years. They don’t seem to be confident of their own ability to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their own actions. If Westminster didn’t really need the Scots then the answer to the Salmond campaign would have been “Ok then. Bye Bye”.
Observation one must be that Cameron now must deliver, and deliver soon on the promises he made in the run-up to the referendum, particularly the panicky ones he made in the days before it. There are already indications that is backtracking. If he does, the clamour for a second referendum will be deafening, and the vote will likely be different. The Scottish reaction to broken promises will see to that.
The second observation is that this story is by no means finished. Despite what the pundits say, the matter is not settled. It will grumble on. The cat is out of the bag. There will be further action in this generation, not the next.