Yesterday (September 18, 2014) was a great day for Scotland, the UK and democracy. 97% of all eligible voters were registered; 85% of them voted. For first time, 16- and 17-years old youth was allowed to vote. The result was indicative of the truly democratic nature of the referendum: free, fair and competitive. 55/45 is a very competitive result, but also shows a clear winner, leaving no room for doubt.
Given a choice between the amicable divorce and the renewal of vows, Scotland chose the later, but with the condition that new contract has to be signed. Scotland remains in the UK, but the UK will not remain the same. More devolution of power is unavoidable. The UK is likely to become a fully federal country (‘ethnic’ federalism that is). Opinion polls show that, even those who voted NO on independence overwhelmingly support further devolution of power. This is not just the demand of the Scottish people, but also the rest of the country: Wales, North Ireland, and even England. Self-rule has emerged as the undisputed choice of the time, as admitted even by Prime Minister David Cameron – who said “Scotland voted for a stronger Scottish Parliament.”
There is a great lesson to be taken by those who want to keep a given country united in the face of demand for independence by a certain part of the country. Instead of trying to suppress such demands, let people debate and vote on it (i.e. hold a referendum). Present your case for either of the choices passionately and strategically. What David Cameron said in his victory statement is worth quoting at length.
“Let us first remember why we had this debate – and why it was right to do so. The Scottish National Party was elected in 2011 in Scotland and promised a referendum on independence. We could have blocked that; we could have put it off – but just as with other issues, it was right to take – not duck – the big decision. I am a passionate believer in our United Kingdom – I wanted more than anything for our United Kingdom to stay together. But I am also a democrat. And it was right that we respected the SNP’s majority in Holyrood and gave the Scottish people the right to have their say. Let us also remember why it was right to ask the definitive question, Yes or No. Because now the debate has been settled for a generation – or as Alex Salmond has said, perhaps for a lifetime. So there can be no disputes, no re-runs – we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.”Cameron was criticized for endangering the country by agreeing to the referendum, but he is now vindicated. The Union is much secure today. Had he tried to block the referendum, the nationalist demand and support for it would have grown eventually forcing referendum, and ultimately independence as people would be voting in protest. The Spanish government seem to be choosing that other alternative on the Catalan issue. It is a big mistake. They are delaying the inevitable, and by delaying the unionist side loses while the pro-independence gains momentum.
Remember, nationalists’ demand for the right to national self-determination is not about declaring independence. It is about that nation having and exercising the right to determine its fate – free of external bullying. And most members of a nation are more interested in securing that right and privilege of the right to national self-determination than the eventual outcome (independence or no). Hence, when unionists try to block or suppress the demand for referendum, they alienate a group that is way bigger than those who actually want independence.
* Jawar Mohammed: Facebook Note