Ayes to the right…

17Sep14

Scotland has been on my mind for months, and suddenly, here we are, on the eve of voting in one of the least democratic processes I think I’ve ever seen, bar that time in Ireland when the EU made everybody vote all over again because Brussels didn’t like the outcome. That was seriously off-colour. Oh, and the hanging chads of Florida – they were pretty bad too. And actually any election in Bradford isn’t to be fully relied on without close scrutiny, either. Yeah, ok, democracy’s a pretty baggy entity when put into practice.

But those examples have been crap in the execution; this one is systemically crap. How else can you describe a process that denies a vote to 96 per cent of the people affected? And since I haven’t spoken to one single person in England – and I’ve been doing a LOT of speaking about it because I haven’t really been able to think about much else – who would vote yes to dissolving the union, the whole thing feels, well, a bit Russian. In an aside muttered over a pint, one Irish friend even declared he didn’t think the Republic of Ireland should have split from the union in 1922, but he keeps that pretty much under his hat, he said. A wise choice, friend. And an astonishing statement.

Still, whatever the outcome, I worry deeply for what may follow. Smaller economies are weaker economies. I feel tiny fault lines that were never there before, both in personal friendships and on the wider stage. I fear people have expressed things they can’t take back. In short, I want Scotland and England and Wales and Northern Ireland together, counteracting each other’s excesses through regular elections. I want UK votes to dilute Scottish sectarianism and I want Scottish votes to dilute English Tories and Ukip. But what I, along with the other 45-odd million people of voting age in the UK who are denied a say in their future, may want clearly doesn’t matter a toss. Yay.

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