Well, about an hour after the official referendum result was declared on Friday morning I was on the road to Bangor in North Wales via, ahem, England. My first stab at reminding myself on Google Maps of the time the journey took came out at over twelve hours, about double what I’d ever taken before. Then I realised I was being directed via Bangor … in Northern Ireland.
So in a strange sort of way my trip on the day after the referendum managed to encompass all the countries of this disputatious United Kingdom.
I was relieved, mightily, at the result of the referendum but felt no sense of triumph or joy at what had been a bruising few months that had split the whole country and had caused differences within my own family too.
The only outward sign I saw of the referendum once I was south of Gretna was on the outskirts of Caernarvon where an optimist had hung the red white and green flag of Wales and the doctored ‘Yes’ saltire out of their first floor window in what had turned out to be a failed gesture of solidarity.
The news down south was full of matters constitutional and the implications of the vote for the rest of the UK. In a rare moment of post-referendum engagement and no doubt to massed indifference I tweeted my advice to English Tory MPs to be very wise in how they reacted to the result. I had no doubt that many of them would not be wise and events are already suggesting I was right.
I dipped into social media occasionally to keep myself informed about feelings on the ground in Scotland and was perhaps naively surprised to find an almost instant pugnaciousness by many Yes voters, with the hashtag #the45 suddenly being adopted, perversely, almost as a sign of victory.
The aspect of the Yes response I found most galling was the instant assumptions about what had gone wrong. ‘No’ voters had been bullied and scared by Cameron, who had rallied his pals in the City and industry to further put the frighteners on us. We had been bought off by the false promises of the last minute ‘vow’ on devo-max. The vow should never have been made, or if it had, should have been made before postal votes were due in. It was the fault of the over 65s who were the most afraid, and gullible, of all age groups. One bright spark suggested another referendum be held with the franchise restricted to the 16-65 age group. Another said that, come the next referendum, time and the grim reaper would have solved the ‘age’ problem. An online petition demanded a recount and there were dark mutterings about the result being ‘rigged.’
In other words, the traditional response of the loser through the ages of ‘we was robbed.’
Which is where Catherine Tate’s gay-in-denial’s ‘How very dare you?’ comes in.
How very dare they within even hours of the result presume that they knew why they had lost and why their opponents had won?
How very dare they presume to know why I and the other 2,001,925 ‘No’ voters had voted the way we did?
How very dare they set about almost instantly on attempt No. 2 to unravel the union that 55% of voters had just endorsed?
OK, the last one’s my emotional response rather than a denial of their democratic right to keep banging on about their minority view, a minority of 38% if you allow for people who didn’t vote either way because they couldn’t care less, couldn’t understand, or got lost on the way to the polling station.
But here’s a question I haven’t seen those who still want independence ask.
What did we do wrong?
I set out shortly before the vote what they did wrong for me. Others who voted No will have their own lists.
Until they turn the spotlight on themselves and what they did wrong they won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing me or, I guess, most other No voters. I don’t know if they’ve got that capacity for self-examination and frankly I hope they haven’t.
Until then, how very dare they?