Tiffany Jenkins: Real independence wasn’t on offer

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SCCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: What was on offer wasn’t really independence, writes Tiffany Jenkins

Nothing in this referendum was as it seemed. One strange moment was finding myself at the unity rally in Trafalgar Square. That I was there in the first place was a bit of an accident; I wasn’t convinced holding such a thing was a great idea. But although I live in Edinburgh, I happened to be in central London. And I was curious. Ultimately, I confess to being a reluctant Unionist, well, not really a Unionist at all: my no vote was based on the belief that we can – and we must – improve things together, rather than simply being, better together. Serious problems exist, but they have little to do with the minor differences between Scotland and England and would not be addressed with separation.

Broadcaster Dan Snow addresses the unity rally in London's Trafalgar Square. Picture: Getty

Broadcaster Dan Snow addresses the unity rally in London's Trafalgar Square. Picture: Getty

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Besides, what was on offer as independence for Scotland wasn’t all that. The rhetoric of the Yes campaign was vibrant, but the promises too amorphous, whilst the concrete proposals were for something limited. Keeping the monarchy, an undemocratic system, and sterling, a policy which would have seen the Bank of England maintain control over the economy, is no way to take power – such plans do not befit a so-called movement for national liberation.

In keeping with the disjuncture between appearance and reality in the referendum campaign, nor was Yes a vote for nationalism, despite being described as such by the No camp. Yes was more an understandable expression of disillusionment with the status quo and a sincere hope and attempt to forge something else.

And then there were the so called Unionists – the side I took as a No voter – who were a long way off from promising a land of hope and glory. At the unity rally, hundreds of people looked the way I felt: uncertain.

Most of us, I think, wondered what we were signing up to, questioning what we were part of, standing there, but only half-committed to a cause that was vague. Only a couple of folk wrapped themselves in the Union Jack. I, and many others, took neither of the two flags handed out by the organisers: one a Union Jack and the other, a white oblong with the simple message written in blue: ‘No Thanks’. Out of those people who did wave a flag, as many held the white one as they did the Union Jack and many more also clutched the Satire.

The Unionists weren’t vocally all that Unionist. Alistair Darling was abandoned to front a negative campaign. David Cameron and Ed Miliband were quiet, half absent, barely able to place themselves in Scotland for anything longer than a day.

Now a majority have said No it looks like in response we will get something approximating a Yes. David Cameron seems determined to parcel the voice of the British electorate into small packages and grant what amounts to an English parliament which no one voted for. A victory for democracy? I wouldn’t count on it.