Thirdly, democracy. The Yes campaign were at pains to paint themselves as somehow more democratic than the No campaign. I had some problems with this, not least because I was forced to stand by while they campaigned to break up my country, a country I love, without giving me any say in the outcome. My own feeling was that a Yes vote would be bad for Scotland and for the UK as a whole, but, without a vote, there was very little I could do about it. I completely understand why those in favour of Scottish Independence did not want the rest of the UK to have a say in the outcome, but it still seemed slightly less than democratic to me.
Then there was the attitude of the Yes camp to those who came out in favour of No. From the monstering of the likes of JK Rowling, to the refusal by Alex Salmond to allow any but handpicked journalists to attend his resignation press conference and to deny access to the Sun, Mail and Telegraph completely*, the Yes camp showed a less than passionate commitment to open debate. The provision of a national forum in which difficult issues can be openly and vigorously debated and all voices are given respect regardless of political stance must be one of the cornerstones of a modern democracy, but it was the Yes campaign which fell short on this, not their opponents. *The Guardian, to its eternal credit, refused to attend the press conference on these terms, making me love it even more if that is possible.
The third thing which puzzled me about the Yes campaign styling themselves as the democratic option was the argument that by voting yes, the Scots would get a government they’d voted for. I can see there is some justification here given that Scotland is a largely Labour area currently labouring under a right wing government, but one of the things about democracy is that you have to have a strong opposition with a chance of winning, or it’s not a democracy. In this scenario, some Scots would get the government they voted for, some wouldn’t. It might be said that you perhaps feel better about the other guys getting in if they’re “your” government, but as a Labour supporter living in London who has spent the majority of my adult life living under governments I didn’t vote for, I can tell you that isn’t the case. “They may be bastards, but they’re our bastards” isn’t much comfort, on the whole.