Scotland’s Referendum: The Stolen Nation

English though I am, I was both angered and saddened by the result of the Scottish Referendum; saddened because I had hoped the Yes side would win, and angered because of all the sneering, negative and arrogant campaigning done by Westminster via the Better Together campaign. That didn’t go down too well so they brought in Gordon Brown to do his patriotic bit, which included talking about how many Scots had fought and died in the UK’s wars. To quote:

We fought two world wars together. And there is not a cemetery in Europe that does not have Scots, English, Welsh, and Irish lying side-by-side. And when young men were injured in these wars, they didn’t look to each other and ask whether you were Scots or English, they came to each other’s aid because we were part of a common cause.

Sorry Gordon, but many Canadians, Australians, Asians and Africans, all remnants of our Empire’s past, also fought in that common cause, since when they gained their independence. To use dead and injured young Scots for pro-Union campaigning is, as one person put it, “repugnant”, particularly considering the centenary of the outbreak of WWI, the war that was to end all wars; even more so now, as British MPs have just voted to start bombing Iraq – again. No ‘lessons’ learned there then.

I wanted Scotland to regain independence for itself. It is, and always has been, a proud nation that has been used and abused for far too long by its greedy southern neighbour, aided by its own land-owning elite. One only has to read Andy Wightman’s book The Poor Had No Lawyers to see how much of Scotland has been taken away from the people of Scotland.

But I also wanted the Yes vote to win for the sake of the rest of the United Kingdom. I hoped it would stir everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland into doing something about the Westminster bubble that runs and ruins our lives, unless, of course, we are corporate, rich or large land owners or, in many cases, all three. An independent Scotland could have given us a different and fairer vision for all our futures.

Yet apparently Scotland decisively voted No. How could this be, when all the news coming out of Scotland – not via the national media – showed how engaged the Scots were when debating their future and what independence could bring them. Steered by Westminster the debate appeared to be all about finance and oil, with threats to health and pensions thrown in, and Better Together’s target focused almost entirely on Alex Salmond.

They failed to acknowledge just how many separate groups were campaigning for independence. Once all the small and special interest Yes groups were counted, one estimate put the total at around 350. All the political parties have pro-independence groups. Crofters and farmers want independence, as does much of the business sector. The National Collective of artists and intellectuals want it. Common Weal wants it. Bella Caledonia wants it.

My hopes were high but there it was, this unbelievable vote to stay tied to Westminster, not England but Westminster. I was angry, because I felt something wasn’t right, and I was depressed because a future had been torn away. How the Scots felt I can only imagine. But it was not long before the accusations of electoral fraud surfaced.

It started with grainy videos on YouTube, showing official counters doing odd things with the ballot papers. Stories emerged of people at polling stations being told that someone using their name had already voted. Children had been registered to vote. The police “were investigating”, while Westminster pooh-poohed it all.

A small and angry petition was launched by First addressed to Alex Salmond it is now going to his Deputy Nicola Sturgeon, and is approaching 100,000 signatures. And yet more has emerged of the odd and dishonest practices that have appeared to capture the No result so wanted by Westminster. Among them are:

• Ballot papers with no identifying marks on the back (illegal)
• Ballot boxes from polling stations delivered to counting centres in private cars by only one person (illegal)
• Postal ballot papers apparently being sent to England first
• Pro-union people being allowed to open and inspect postal votes several days before the referendum (illegal)

And there were no exit polls. Before the referendum various polls said that the No campaign was leading, although the Yes side was catching up. Just before the vote these polls had the Yes side suddenly dropping back even though on the ground the campaign for independence seemed to be getting stronger. But polls are not that accurate, particularly those published by pro-Union media.

Exit polls are. They are conducted outside the polling stations and researchers ask people coming out how they have voted. In the space between the polling stations closing and the counting of votes completed, exit polls give a fairly accurate picture of what the result will be. But the media, particularly the BBC and ITV, were asked not to conduct exit polls. That fact alone convinces me that the Scots have been robbed of their independence. And Westminster should hang its head in shame. More, it should be investigated by the police.

Bella Caledonia, having been thoroughly put off by the pro-union bias of the general media, is now engaged in creating a totally new and digital ‘citizens’ media. They say:

It’s not about everyone working for free; it’s about giving everyone a voice. The profession of journalism finds itself at a rare moment in history where, for the first time, its stranglehold on the news is threatened by not just new technology and competitors but, potentially, by the audience it serves.

Armed with a deluge of social media tools… the online audience has the means for the first time to become an active participant in the creation and dissemination of news and information.

And here’s one bit of information that Scotland could do without, one that would have produced a truly revolutionary vote for independence.

Not satisfied with stealing most of the Highlands for the shooting of deer and grouse, they’re now stealing the land from under the feet of 80% of the Scottish population. Of course Westminster had to have the No vote. For in the same month as the referendum they started selling fracking licences to energy firms that will cover most of central Scotland, including Edinburgh and Glasgow. And beyond, though I doubt it will touch the precious sporting estates.

England did far too well out of Scotland’s North Sea oil. Now it wants their fracked gas. But then, where the British elite are concerned, Scotland has only ever been a source of shooting and money. And, of course, all those young men who join the military because life on the streets of Scotland’s cities under the current regime offers little else in opportunity.

Lesley Docksey is a lover of animals, campaigns and writes on war/peace, climate change, and the environment. She is the former editor of Abolish War. Read other articles by Lesley.