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Scottish Referendum – The Morning After: Like the Morning Before?

September 19, 2014

UK and Scotland

8 am Friday 19 September:

So the angry accountants won.

For all the rhetoric swirling around about no return to the status quo, what needs fixing that didn’t need fixing before this whole exercise started? Not much, except a million-or-so broken hearts in the grieving north.

We are no more and no less beset by problems than we were before. In Scotland, the Poles, Latvians and Romanians who cheerfully locked arms with the Bravehearts and voted yes will return to their previous status as the others. The English who voted no will continue be the subject of the low key resentment for their presence – perhaps a little louder for a while. The politicians will return to politicking. Stickleback and Flounder will be mercifully spared the backlash that would surely have come their way when the populace discovered that they are just like any other politicians – over-promising and under-delivering.

All the while, the birds will sing, the fish will swim and the stags will rut, blissfully unaware of the kerfuffle that has so exercised another species over the past few months. Scotland will still be a beautiful country, and its people a mix of passionate, mean, creative, delusional, industrious and self-centred, just like the rest of us in the still-United Kingdom.

Further south, those of us who watched aghast at the possibility that 8% of our population were on the verge of imposing upon the rest of us a profound change in which we had no say will breathe a sigh of relief and return to our everyday worries.

But the referendum has had one significant effect. It has caused the English citizens of the Union to think afresh about a political order that most of us hitherto have considered – if we ever paused to think – to be as permanent as the granite in our hills and the muddy water flowing through our valleys into the sea.

The British stage is now set for bigger questions to be debated. Should we leave the European Union? How do we deal with the upcoming energy crisis? Should we still insist on “punching above our weight” in foreign affairs? How will we deal with the consequences of massive immigration to our shores? How will we cope with the enemy within that some see as the product of our multicultural society? Will we soon be dusting off our nukes and pointing them eastwards again? And will we manage to re-invent ourselves after the decline of our industrial base, whose destruction played so large a part in triggering the nationalist resurgence in Scotland in the first place?

These are the challenges that face us today. In time they will be replaced by new challenges. Life goes on. Meanwhile, the leaves fall from the trees, the sheep graze on the hills, the brown fug rises from our cities, babies are being born, lovers argue over breakfast and politicians polish their words.

Twas ever thus.

From → Politics, Sport, UK

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