Article appeared in The House magazine and on Politics Home website.
The morning after the Scottish referendum was the lowest of the lows. To have your hopes, dreams and aspirations smashed against the rocks and be left standing helpless as they drift off into deep dark waters is not an experience easily forgotten. The morning after the EU referendum was more akin to missing your last bus and realising that you face a long walk home, all be it in the rain, heavy cold rain. The disappointment is less because this doesn’t feel like the end. The effect on people’s life could be traumatic. Millions may feel let down and angry but because the exit will take over two years all is not lost. There is still time for the leave campaign to be exposed as the hotchpotch of chancers and opportunists that they are. Their lack of unity could yet see them crash on the rocks.
After the Scottish referendum it was the incredible growth of the SNP membership that got me back on the rails, this time it has been the number of people that have contacted me to say “ I voted no in 2014 to protect Scotland’s place in the EU. Next time I am voting yes.” And that’s the difference between Scotland and the other nations that comprise the UK. The EU referendum was always about more than the EU. It was seen by many as the potential catalyst to trigger the gun to go off, signalling a second Scottish referendum. Well it hasn’t been fired but it’s loaded, cocked and an itchy finger is loitering with intent in the vicinity. Meanwhile the leave campaign protest that for Scotland to hold a second referendum is undemocratic and that the SNP are being disingenuous to the electorate. Northern Ireland is a different predicament, like Scotland, it voted to stay in the EU. Sinn Fein has started making overtures regarding a possible referendum to unite Ireland and as Irish politics is a complex and sometimes volatile mixture it will take some time to work that out. So you would think that Wales having voted to leave the EU would be the easiest to predict. But that would be to ignore the consequences of a no vote in the Scottish referendum. As the sales pitch began to unravel the evolving disappointment caused a kick back that reverberated through the ballots boxes at both Westminster and Holyrood elections. And there is the rub. The leave campaign will only win if, and it’s a massive if, they can live up to their election promises. Less than 24 hours after the polling places closed the £350 million pound a week figure to the NHS has been dropped, the hope that the Prime Minister would stay on during negotiations has been dashed, the leave campaigns promise to immediately invoke article 50 has been postponed and Dr Liam Fox said: “A lot of things were said in advance of this referendum that we might want to think about again” We wait with baited breath to see what he means by “a lot”.
The members of the leave campaign shall only win if they improve the lives of all the people they spun a line to and if they don’t then they will feel their wrath at the next election, whenever that will be. Now that is democracy.