September 19, 2014 Comments(0)
Published on Liberal Democrat Voice
By Caron Lindsay |
Fri 19th September 2014 – 12:01 pm
I am so relieved this morning. I don’t think I have ever been as scared and anxious about any political event in my life as I was about the result of the referendum on independence. I really do think that a win for Yes would not have brought the help for the most vulnerable in society that was promised.
I don’t feel any great sense of victory. I know that many of my friends, who have the same values and want the same things for our society as I do, are feeling distraught this morning. I’ve been on the receiving end of defeat enough times to know its pain. These are good people and I feel for them.
I need desperately to sleep but before I do, and while I wait for Salmond to make his statement at 10 am, I thought I’d jot down a bit of a to do list for a whole variety of people. It’s ambitious.
1. Deliver on the more powers pledge – putting something like Liberal Democrat policy into practice.
The result was not a massive vote of confidence in the UK as it stands. The union has been put on probation. If people are not given signifiant new powers that make a difference, we’ll be back here in 5 years’ time. Do it quickly and inclusively.
2. Develop a strategy for tackling poverty and inequality at UK and Scottish level
In some ways the “more powers” thing was a bit of a red herring. People wanted more powers but they also wanted to make life better for the most vulnerable people in society. We need a bit of vision on delivering better housing and getting people out of poverty. That will really give the 84% of people who turned out yesterday a reason to do so again.
3. No excuses, no delay: we need votes at 16 now
One of the best sight of yesterday was seeing 16 and 17 year olds heading to the polling station for the first time in a UK election. It worked. They shouldn’t have that vote taken away from them now. Is it possible to implement it for the General Election next May? There is no reason it couldn’t be rushed through Parliament, surely. No taxation without representation, after all.
4. Let’s sort out how we run referendum campaigns
Although the gap was reasonable in the end, there could have been, should have been a bigger margin. Yes gained a lot of ground during the campaign because it ran a highly effective, creative and emotional grassroots operation. Better Together on the other hand wasn’t so good. I’m not talking about the I’ll go into more details about the respective campaigns later, but for the moment, be worried by the thought that we lost the AV referendum because of a terrible campaign. We almost lost this because of a campaign that could have been a lot better on so many levels. If we have to fight an EU referendum, when the opposition will be well-funded and well-motivated,, we need to sort out how it’s done. Everything, from setting the message, to rebuttal to grassroots organisation has to improve.
5. Labour needs to sort itself out or face further decline
One of the things that the deficiencies in Better Together organisation exposed was the lack of organisation in Labour held seats. Traditionally they haven’t needed to campaign in certain areas because their vote was so strong. Their star has been waning though. They’ve been comprehensively out-campaigned by the SNP in the last two Holyrood elections and their organisation during the referendum showed that they have failed to take the hint. With little polling day organisation outside their most marginal seats, they need to shape up and fast. It’s even more stark for them now as all those registered to vote int he referendum, will still reregistered in May.
6. The nastiness fuelled by senior nationalists need to stop
When you have a survey saying that 46% of No campaigners asked by Yougov said that they had felt “personally threatened” during the campaign compared to 26% of Yes campaigners, that shows that the bad behaviour was not quite one way traffic, but significantly more of a problem for the Yes side to sort. That involves its leadership showing zero tolerance of any anti-English or otherwise bad behaviour from anyone associated by it. If someone says No voters were bad parents, sling them out. Simple. It’s not an appropriate atmosphere in which to conduct political debate.
7. Change for women too
A few weeks ago I went to an event in Glasgow which sought to look at what we would do post the referendum to improve women’s equality whatever the result. We need to start taking some of these ideas forward.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron’s Musings