Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland Shows the World How It's Done!

The decision has been made. An astonishing 85% of the eligible voters cast a ballot and Scotland has said "No, Thanks" to independence.   The result is clear but at the same time 45% of the voters wanted independence. As for me, I continue to be of two minds on the whole subject of Scottish independence. As the referendum day approached I resolved my dilemma by avoiding making up my mind.  I decided that I don't have the right to an opinion. After all, I do not live in Scotland and my direct experience of the country is limited to the impressions of the child in a rural area that I was more than 50 years ago.
Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Yes campaign

Having said this, I believe that my own internal conflict was perfectly reflected by the vote itself. My overwhelming impression is that most Scots would have favoured independence, all things being equal. The problem was that the Scottish heart could not persuade the Scottish mind to step into a quagmire of unknowns and uncertainties.

This morning, I am feeling an intense pride in Scotland and indeed in the United Kingdom.  Let us reflect for a moment on the astonishing events we have just witnessed. We have seen a decisive vote on a clear question of the highest political and emotional importance. We have seen an advance agreement on what would happen either way. We have seen a vigorous and informed debate on the merits. We have witnessed no recriminations, no violence, no rioting or looting and a respectful acceptance of the outcome by everyone.

During the campaign Scotland received formal assurances of greater authority from all major political parties in Westminster. The Prime Minister this morning reaffirmed that these assurances would be honoured.

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

But there is more. The desire of Scots for more autonomy has opened a Pandora's box that will not be closed. The rest of the United Kingdom is now clamouring for what the Scots have so successfully demanded – greater regional authority and less control from Westminster.   What I hoped for in a previous blog might be coming true:   the development of a modern constitution for the United Kingdom along federal lines.

We live in a world where bitter wars are fought for much less than what was at stake in the Scottish referendum and where (even in Canada) comparatively trivial issues such as a win or a loss in a sports contest will trigger riots and looting.

To witness how Scots have dealt with their most important issue with civility and dignity on all sides is a message to the entire world and I hope that the world is watching.  Scotland had its few weeks in the sun as the impending prospect of independence attracted the attention of media. The media will now move on to more interesting issues and we certainly have enough of them: the beheading of civilians by Islamist fanatics, the struggle over Ukraine, the Ebola virus and so on.

But let us not forget the importance of quieter issues such as good government and mutual respect and tolerance. Just as Scotland led the way during the Enlightenment to show the world how reason could overcome unthinking superstition and hardened beliefs, Scotland is now showing how democracy can and must be practiced in this 21st century.

I am very, very proud to be a Scot today.

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