Sunday, 21 September 2014


You’ll have heard by now that the referendum on Scottish independence has resulted in a defeat for the YES campaign, with NO getting 55% of the vote to YES's 45%. You might also have picked up the message – piped in with the soothing background music – that everything is now back to normal.

But, two things: the campaign for Scottish independence has not been defeated and all is definitely not back to normal. Yes, the battle fought at the ballot boxes on the 18th of September resulted in an apparent decision in favour of NO and the status quo, but this was a Pyrrhic victory. The NO campaign may be straddling the winner’s podium, like a victorious redcoat after the battle of Culloden, but its guts are hanging round its ankles in the manner of an Anglo-Norman knight after the battle of Bannockburn.

Why did NO get more votes?

Scottish independence is natural because Scotland is a different country to England, and thinks of itself as such. It really is as simple as that! To prevent something this natural, you have to use undue pressures, sinister methods, and bribery. This is exactly what the NO campaign did, relying on overwhelming media bias, economic threat, and some incentives.

First media bias: here is a list of daily newspapers that supported the NO campaign, with their Scottish circulations:

Now here is a 'list' of national newspapers that supported the YES campaign

Notice anything?

In addition to media bias, a rather large economic gun was pointed at Scotland’s head for several months, with constant threats that major companies would pull out of Scotland in the event of a yes vote. One scare story in the Daily Mail said that over a third of big businesses would pull out in the event of a YES vote.

But it wasn't only big business that made economic threats. Both the UK government and the EU effectively promised economic sanctions against a newly independent Scotland.

The UK government refused to say how it would deal with Scotland’s request to use the pound after independence, pretending that it would not countenance such a move in order to create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

Prompted by member states keen to keep a lid on their own secessionist movements, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said enough to imply that an independent Scotland would also be excluded from membership of the EU and might face a veto from existing members if it applied to join. This created great uncertainty, especially in agricultural areas.

Along with this came a little bribery – government jobs to be protected and expanded, higher public expenditure in Scotland ensured, and additional powers for the Scottish Parliament. But this has now opened up a can of worms with English voters, who feel they are being treated unfairly. In the aftermath of the Scottish Referendum there have been demands for an English Parliament, regional assemblies, and the exclusion of Scottish MPs voting on so-called "English issues," something that can only add to the growing rift between the two nations.

Who was NO and who was YES?

When we look at the actual voters themselves, things get even more interesting. The most striking one is that the NO vote was overwhelmingly dependent on Boomers and old age pensioners. Here is how the voting went according to age groups:

NO vote living on borrowed time.

YES won every age group up to 54 (with the interesting minor exception of those of university age), so it would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that in 20 years or so half the NO voters will be dead!

Many pensioners seemed to have had the idea that their pension money was actually stored somewhere, as in a vault under the bank of England, and feared that independence would threaten their access to it, even though many UK pensioners live overseas.

In addition to old people with a feeble understanding of basic economics, the NO campaign also got massive support from foreigners, with opinion polls indicating overwhelming support from the 477,000 voters born in England (more than 10% of the electorate), as well as majority support from other foreigners from EU countries, allowed to vote due to EU rules.

The NO vote also benefited from public sector employees and rural populations whose incomes are tied to Brussels through agricultural grants. This explains why many rural areas swung towards NO. Another component of the NO vote was the diehard protestant Unionist vote, an important factor in Scotland in the past. Today it is represented by the Orange Order and the supporters of Glasgow Rangers football team. Since the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, however, this group has been withering in importance.

If you take out old people duped into fearing for their pensions, canny farmers and their dependents sucking at the teat of the EU Agricultural Commission, and non-Scots who should have had no right to vote on an issue of Scottish sovereignty, then, the YES campaign actually won an overwhelming landslide, even in the face of extreme external pressures from the media, big business, the UK government, and the EU.

Not a pensioner and clearly not a foreigner.
A previous effort by Scots to challenge the power of London was in 1745, often known simply as “The 45.” Interestingly 45 is also the percentage of voters who voted YES. But while the Jacobites of the 45 only had patchy support – most of the Lowlanders were against them on religious grounds – the voters of 2014 are a much more substantial body. They constitute the overwhelming majority of Scots under retirement age, and they will not long remain ignorant of the several ways that they have been cheated into postponing their destiny.

Unlike the Jacobite rebels defeated at the Battle of Culloden they are not about to fade into the mists of history. To paraphrase a famous Scot from Kirkcudbrightshire, they have not yet begun to fight.

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