This is a modified version of a speech I gave at the Law Society of Scotland’s post-referendum conference during a session titled ‘Healing the Wounds’. I felt it was a fitting piece to publish here to round up the series of posts on the issue of Scottish independence. Future posts will mostly focus on local issues from my campaign in Edinburgh Western.
The referendum was an exhilarating, challenging and life changing experience for me. I am one of the thousands of people in this country who became politically active for the first time because of it. The last week, in particular, was intense, exciting and emotional.
Throughout the campaign, I was confident of the result. Bar a couple of dark moments, I expected a win for Better Together. And when it was confirmed after 6am on 19th September, I was proud of what so many had achieved, I was happy and I was relieved. But there was no sense victory over the other side. I took no joy in the faces of the Yes campaigners who remained at Ingilston until the final result; I took no satisfaction from the pictures of broken hearted fellow Scots in the newspapers over the following days.
There was a sensitive, compassionate and insightful feature in the Scotland on Sunday by Peter Ross about the aftermath of the result for Yes campaigners.
He related the feelings of those he had spoken to: anger, heart-break and bitter disappointment. He said that while it might look melodramatic in print, the impact of the campaign on these activists should not be underestimated. “Although the political transformation they sought had not come about, many feel huge personal change. They are engaged with society in ways they were not before. They feel, finally, that they have managed to get some purchase on life.”
I was moved by this and recommended that all No supporters read it because we all need understanding, compassion and insight to heal our nation’s wounds and move forward.
To me, the campaign came down to one issue: how to forge a better, more prosperous, more socially just Scotland. Yes or No, our aims were the same even if our solutions were different. We now have the answer of the Scottish electorate and we must all move forward together, united in that one aim.
Political engagement has never been higher in Scotland. Scotland expects and our political leaders must deliver. Creating further division now can not be helpful. Acceptance of the result and working constructively with the Smith Commission is essential for all sides of the debate, but particularly the SNP. As the party of Government, they have a duty to act in the interests of all of Scotland, not just the so-called “45%”.
It is a huge privilege and challenge to be standing as a Holyrood candidate at this period of our history. I could not describe the honour it would be to be elected as a member of the Scottish Parliament in this new era of devolution.
It is an exciting and demanding time for us all in this small, proud country. I am confident that by coming together, we will be equal to the task ahead. That is how we not only heal the wounds, but draw new strength from the referendum.