45% of Scottish voters said yes: I was one of them. However, 55% of Scottish voters said no, therefore Scotland will remain in the United Kingdom.
I was on holiday in Croatia during the week of the Scottish independence referendum, and had cast my postal vote (pictured above) in advance. As the arguments became more heated in the run-up to voting day, I was glad to be away from it all. What more could I say or do? Once I had made my decision to vote yes, that was it. There was no going back, no changing my mind. I may be a typical indecisive Libran but once my decision is made, I will always stand by it.
Being surrounded by No voters in my working environment, coupled with the torrent of scare stories being fed to us by the mainstream media, I had an idea that No would triumph. It was hope versus fear, and of course I understand why a lot of people just don't want to take that risk, that chance, that leap of faith into the unknown. So, despite my own high hopes and desire for change in this country, I can understand why people would vote no. It was their choice.
What I wasn't prepared for was the level of disappointment which I felt on the morning of Friday 19th September. As I woke to another bright and sunny morning in Trogir, I reached for my tablet and went online to discover the result. In just one second it felt as if we'd been plunged into the abyss, soundtracked with the sound of a nation's bottle crashing. And my other thought: "how am I going to explain the result to that lovely Croatian girl in the hotel who couldn't understand why we would not want independence?".
Hope had been replaced with hopelessness, with only Glasgow, Dundee, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire daring to dream of a new future.
Someone asked this question during one of the televised debates and I thought it hit the nail on the head. In the last days of the campaign, the leaders of the UK's three main political parties suddenly remembered that Scotland existed and they came north in a last-gasp bid to save the Union, and even went as far as to jointly sign a promise that Scotland would be given extra devolved powers in the event of a No vote. This 'vow' appeared on the front of the Daily Record, and was supposed to convince the remaining don't-knows to vote No.
But as we all know, it wouldn't be the first time that a political promise turned to dust. Just hours after the referendum result was confirmed, the debate was suddenly steered in a different, federalist direction, and the possibility of extra devolution was now buried beneath new arguments about powers for England, Wales, Northern Ireland....and a general feeling that we should all now move on and forget that the referendum ever happened. I have never liked Alex Salmond or the SNP, but the referendum was bigger than that. When Salmond conceded the result on 19th September, he did it with statesmanship and dignity, and then he later announced that he was stepping down as First Minister and SNP leader. Nicola Sturgeon is very likely to be his successor, which will mean that the three main political parties in Scotland will all be led by women. Whether you agree with their politics or not, that gives you an idea of Scotland's progressive potential.
Of course we need to move on: dwelling on the result can leave you looking like a sore loser filled with sour grapes, but moving on should mean building on what the referendum started - a feeling of democracy, empowerment and a desire for positive change. People are doing it in different ways: whether joining the Scottish National Party, participating in the '45' movement, keeping the arguments alive online, but as a 'working-class Yes voter looking for a political home' I feel that the time is right for a new party to be established in Scotland, or some kind of new alliance to represent us. I found this fantastic article by Cat Boyd which perfectly articulates my own views: http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/09/23/a-scottish-podemos/ I can only hope that someone, somewhere steps up to fill that political void.
Regardless of the result, I'm glad the referendum happened. It provided a rare opportunity for empowerment and democracy, and it woke Scotland up. The next big challenge is staying awake and keeping the momentum going.