2007 - 2021

The Real Meaning of the No Vote

thBecause they thought a No vote was in the bag, the powers that be pushed us into a crude binary choice this September – that is, they offered us a chance for change that they were dead sure we wouldn’t take.

Thus, the referendum was proffered as a hedge AGAINST democracy, not a concession to it.They ain’t quite so sure now.  I think they should worry even if No does squeak home.  The desire for real democracy, real change…is palpable despite their best efforts.

The power elite want, if they can, to deny us all change, or control the change undemocratically if change there has to be.  But what has happened is that the Yes campaign has revealed and unleashed and added depth and nuance to the desire for change, and created an articulate, popular movement for it. This may or may not result in a cumulative collective celebration of the restoration of popular choice as a factor in modern politics on September 19th, or it may not.

A Yes vote as such is still a crude measure, kind of the wrong question – 19th Century definitions of Independence are still all we really have – and those who call for some formula of ‘shared sovereignty’, both reflect mainstream opinion and are probably right in the longer term.

Some form of locally sensitive and accountable form of democracy allied to other locally informed and sensitive democracies do need to pool resources and sovereignty in the face not only of Global Capital, but also of global problems, with the climate, for example, or population and resource management, that do indeed dwarf problems of accountability in local health and policing and welfare benefits.

It is equally a truism that our only chance of dealing with the big stuff probably rests on our having the democratic confidence to take control of the stuff that is happening on the corner.

I will resist the urge to go all Kantian on this, and for the moment urge only that we remember the profoundly anti-democratic thinking that prompted “giving” us the democratic choice for ten hours on Sept 18th was designed not to stop Independence – Independence didn’t worry them – it was democracy that was the problem that needed squashed.

And celebrate all the more that we seem, thanks to the work of activists everywhere, in localities and in the global forum of the web, to have stolen the ball off them for a minute.

Like the people who employ marketing consultants, the elite and their temple whores in politics and the media had a settled view and a decided policy and wanted a wee consultation exercise to give it a tick.

The real meaning of the No vote is: Yes, the British Establishment can now do whatever they want and I hereby abrogate any say that Scotland (or any other noisy, annoying self-defined grouping in the UK) as a democratic polity might pretend to have in the matter. A vote for No now, in effect, is a vote to cease to be a democracy in Scotland, as Scotland.

Ironically, democracy is exactly what is happening every night all over the country and everywhere on-line.

That is worth reflecting on and treasuring in itself. Even before we get to planning the party if..hold your breath…we actually win.

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  1. yerkitbreeks says:

    In a post – NO universe a powerful UKIP could push demoting the Scottish Parliament to essentially a Scottish Grand Committee, and to see where that got us you need to read The Claim of Scotland ( was serialised on Wings ).

    1. JBS says:

      UKIP? Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

  2. fehvepehs says:

    This is so true about getting people involved in politics and letting them see how people power can change things. I have never been to any political debates or rallies for decades, however since the referendum campaign has been cranked up. I have been to two in Dundee (Labour for Indy and a Tommy Sheridan case for independence) and also got involved on line by reading and contributing towards debates. If there is such a thing as a “Scottish Spring” then this is it and long may it continue.
    Great article BTW.

  3. Peter A Bell says:

    Polling stations are open for 15 hours, not 10 as stated. They open at 07:00 and close at 22:00.

    For those 15 hours the people of Scotland hold their sovereignty in their hands. They can choose to keep it by voting Yes. Or they can vote No, and thereby squander an all too rare opportunity to exercise meaningful democratic power.

    1. Indeed. Apologies for hasty innaccuracy.

  4. manandboy says:

    Ignition, now where’s my nearest Yes Campaign group ? I’m getting out there.

    (BTW,If you would like more information on how Scotland can be a very successful independent country –

    Please listen to Ivan McKee, a Scottish businessman who lives in Glasgow.

    But please be warned, Ivan is not a politician.

    If you want clarity along with facts and figures and a typical West of Scotland sense of humour, then Ivan’s for you.

    The video is 21 mins long, but even if you’re convinced half way through,

    don’t miss the story about the Prime Minister of Norway at the very end.)

  5. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    If NO squeaks home they will not worry. “To worry” requires an acceptance and respect for democracy. That is something the British establishment neither recognise nor respect, with regard to Scotland.

  6. hektorsmum says:

    This referendum will be won on the internet, this is something that Better Together do not realise. If they did they would be all over it but they are not, they do not have the people, the grass roots hearts and minds of the YES. I remember how Devolution was going to kill Nationalism stone dead, seems it is still up and running, and you know something even if it loses, it is like the waves it runs up the beach a little closer every time.

  7. Marian says:

    At the Accord Hospice charity dinner event in Paisley during 2013 Andrew Neil of the Politics Show said:-

    “Devolution, the Calman Commission, the Scotland Bill, the Edinburgh Agreement, all of this and more you have, is because Westminster parties are scared of the SNP. If you vote NO you massively change the balance of power and they will not only give you nothing, but will probably take powers away from the Scottish Parliament”.

    Honest words indeed from a committed unionist and leading expert on Westminster politics. Consider this scenario: would a Tory/UKiP coalition after the 2015 UK General Election be likely to have extra powers for Scotland on its policy agenda when they may have not have one single representative here? Or when they have the larger constitutional issue of EU membership to tackle?

  8. bringiton says:

    A No vote will see the Westminster establishment turn it’s back on Scotland.
    We will have affirmed their view that London rules OK and that we are satisfied with that situation.
    Some tinkering around with minor things to keep Scots in line but basically when we are only talking about a few million voters who send only one Tory MP to London,who cares.
    A No vote will,this time,probably put Scotland off the London political agenda for a very long time.

  9. Gordon says:

    Yes, Bringiton and cause the squandering of the proceeds of another 40 years of North Sea Oil on a burgeoning national debt and more infrastructure for London.

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