I know I have international followers who might not be aware of what exactly is happening in my country so I have done my best to put together this explanation which is very bare bones but I hope provides a good overview of the situation!! As some of you know I was a dedicated Yes supporter but I have done my best to keep this objective and impartial. If I’ve got anything wrong or you have anything to add please let me know.
Background: The Independence Referendum
On the 18th of September, Scotland held a referendum to decide whether it should become independent from the rest of the UK or not. The question posed was “should Scotland be an independent country?” and the vote was a simple yes/no choice.
The referendum was proposed and spearheaded by the Scottish National Party (SNP) and first minister and head of the snp, Alex Salmond.
There were a lot of reasons to vote yes and a lot of reasons to vote no, but very generally speaking:
- Yes voters wanted the Scottish people to be able to make their own decisions and no longer be subject to increasingly right wing Westminster rule (for more you can have a look at the Yes Scotland website and this speech by Tommy Sheridan)
- No voters, though many of them also wanted real social change, wanted to keep the economic security provided by the union (the better together website is closed now but here is their facebook page, a speech from Better Together leader Alistair Darling, and the wikipedia article on their campaign)
At one point it was proposed that their should be a third option on the ballot: devo max (or maximum devolution). This was initially rejected by David Cameron (1, 2) though later, when it looked as though Yes had a real chance at winning, Cameron promised more powers to Scotland in the event of a No vote (1, 2).
The voting age was lowered to 16 for the referendum (analysis from the Independent).
The voter turnout for the referendum was 84.6% (x)
Ultimately No won, with 55% of the vote.
Aftermath: Violence in Glasgow
Throughout the campaign, George Square in Glasgow became unofficially known as a meeting and rallying point for Yes supporters (here are some pictures I took at a rally the day before the vote). Glasgow was one of only four areas to have a Yes majority (the other three were West Dumbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and Dundee).
On the 19th, the day after the vote, some Yes voters gathered in the square, peacefully.
Unfortunately, they were joined by a group of unionists carrying union flags. Police were called in to separate the groups.
The unionists, who have been reported to be members of the orange order and loyalists, were performing nazi salutes, throwing flares, burning saltires, and starting fights.There is a video of a group of them tearing the saltire from a young girl’s hands.
There was almost no coverage of the violence on the bbc as it was happening.
!!Please note that their content should be treated with a pinch of salt as the presentation of the events as a “standoff” is very misleading. The stv presentation of it as a “loyalist demonstration” is far closer to the truth.
(My personal analysis of the situation: to say that the violent scenes had nothing to do with the No victory would, I think, be misguided. While the unionists causing the trouble were by no means representative of No voters, I think it would be fair to say that the No victory to some extent empowered them. This ugly British nationalism is something that both the Yes and No campaigns failed to acknowledge, though the No side was often quick to paint Yes supporters as nationalists blinded by patriotism. Obviously No voters absolutely should not be conflated with the rioters last night and there were certainly other, indirect reasons for the trouble which include Glasgow’s history of sectarian and racial violence. The reporting on this has been very minimal and skewed with some residents of Glasgow unaware it was even happening until informed by friends and family. If this had been a Yes riot, it would have been portrayed as dangerous and revolutionary violence and not been brushed under the rug in the same way this incident seems to have been.)
There are rumours of a stabbing. Some reports say that a 15 y/o boy was stabbed, some a 17 y/o girl. So far as I can tell there is no truth to these claims. Police Scotland have not confirmed them (see the news reports above).
There were also reports that the unionists had set fire to the Herald building because it was the only newspaper to support independence. This also seems to be incorrect as the fire is being attributed to a generator at The Flying Duck pub, next to the Herald building, not unionists (1, 2, 3).
- Alex Salmond resigns as First Minister (x)
- It is expected that Nicola Sturgeon will take over as leader of the SNP (1, 2)
- Salmond calls for UK voting age to be lowered to 16 (x)
- People are leaving Scottish Labour (now being referred to as ‘red tories’ online) in droves and joining the pro-indy parties: the Scottish Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, and the Scottish Nationalist Party.
- Yesterday (September 19th) 1200 people joined the greens (x)
- The SNP has seen its membership grow by over 5,000 (x)
- Newly politically engaged people young and old seek ways to take positive action including donating to food banks (find your nearest food bank)
- Gordon Brown says that the promise for more powers will be kept, but there is some skepticism (x)
- The No victory and its effect on Catalonia’s independence referendum (The Economist: x , The Guardian: x)
More added as it happens.