Photo: Tolga Akmen/LNP/REX USA.
Yesterday, the Scots voted in a historic independence referendum, 55% to 45%, against Scotland breaking from the union. With some districts recording 90% voter turnout, and an overall turnout at an astonishing 84.5%, the mandate for the union is clear.
This morning, Scotland is still a country within the United Kingdom, but with 1.6 million people heartbroken, and serious talk of reform toward a North American style federalism hovering in the air. Glasgow, the third largest city in the U.K. (and my home), voted in favor of independence. And, that is heartening, especially given the weeks of hand-wringing and dire prognostication from "no" voters about the chaos a "yes" vote would bring.
Personally, I'm disappointed. If the U.K. government continues its drift toward the right, with the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party U.K. Independence Party getting more seats as seems the trend, it's worrying on a personal level. I'm married to an immigrant, so now I'll have to worry about the labyrinthine processes we'll have to go through to move toward citizenship, and citizenship not of Scotland, but of the U.K.
I'm not the only one who is hurting this morning. On Facebook, friend after friend has changed their status to say how sad they are, but how they hope for the future. They hope the promises will be made good, or else in years to come, independence will once again be on the table. One even turned his profile photograph to a simple black square, in mourning. Others have spoken quietly about their respect for "no" voting friends who are treating them with sympathy and understanding over the divide. We always knew we'd have to work with each other in the morning, whatever happened. Now it's just a matter of waiting for things to heal.
What now for Scotland and the U.K.? Work will begin shortly in Westminster on drafting up what new powers should be delegated to the Scottish Parliament. The West Lothian question, which concerned Scottish MPs in the U.K. parliament being able to vote on matters that only concerned England, will now be addressed. David Cameron has promised 'English votes for English laws' is now firmly on the agenda. The bigger questions and hopes that the "yes" voters wanted — nuclear-missile-free waters, a reformed immigration system that welcomes more people to the country, a reduced military presence in the world, and human-rights reforms — now look unlikely to come to pass.
The brief moment of excitement has passed. But, regardless of Scotland saying no, the U.K. map will be changed forever. It's just not quite clear, in the weak light of day, in what ways.