Brian Monteith: Once in lifetime chance if result suits

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“A once in a lifetime opportunity”, that’s what we were told, not once, not twice, but over and over again. Ad nauseum. No sooner did I see Alex Salmond on telly than I heard those words, “A once in a lifetime opportunity”.

Nicola Sturgeon, feisty yet cherub-like, would be next saying the mantra all over again, “A once in a lifetime opportunity”. They said it so often I had to believe them. And why not, we believe politicians don’t we?

So there we have it. We voted. It was our one chance. For a lifetime. Apparently.

But it’s not, not any more. For the losers apparently want us to go through this all over again, and again, and again – no doubt until they wear us down and get their way. Rather like the European Union and those referenda in cheeky countries like Ireland where they restage the votes until they get the result the EU wanted.

Only that’s not going to happen in Scotland.

There’s a lot of nonsense being talked by aggrieved supporters of nationalism, secession or what the more optimistic call nation-building. There are some who are trying to suggest the count was fixed, but wiser hands in the Yes camp are saying it was monitored by both sides, together with international observers, and it was entirely above board. We are not Zimbabwe. Yet.

There are others who are trying to blame BBC bias, but this just makes me laugh. I suppose it was BBC bias that resulted in the second debate descending into an SNP rally with insults and abuse hurled at Alistair Darling without any intervention by the BBC moderator. Salmond was allowed to talk over his opponent, but nothing was done. If that’s bias I’m a Hearts season ticket holder.

Meanwhile anyone – such as Nick Robinson or Jackie Bird – who asked difficult questions of Alex Salmond was the subject of abusive tirades on social media and at the wrong end of the First Minister’s tongue. All of this ensured the BBC, if anything, went out of its way to ensure the Yes campaign had no grounds for official complaint. It was Alex Salmond who refused to be interviewed by Andrew Neil – until after the result – and he who banned journalists from the Daily Telegraph, Mail, Express, Guardian and even the Financial Times from his resignation press conference. That looks like bias to me.

So much for freedom of the press.

What we are now on the receiving end of is the political equivalent of losers saying “Who you looking at? Want a square go outside?” after having been beaten inside already.

But the bigger part of the psychological denial that we are witnessing by SNP leaders – and those supporters experiencing a form of political bereavement – is not just Salmond and Sturgeon’s bravado about refusing to accept the result. No, what we are now getting is the sheer arrogance of claiming No voters were tricked, did not know what they were doing, and will vote Yes the next time.

It is time to point out a few home truths.

In Edinburgh every constituency voted No. That’s right, even in the areas that the SNP thinks it is political master, even in the areas of Edinburgh that are claimed to be deprived and receptive to the SNP – the majority voted No. Across Scotland in SNP heartlands such as Perthshire, Clacks, Aberdeenshire, Western Isles, Moray – and more – the SNP was thrashed. Yes, Glasgow and Dundee voted Yes but it was instructive that the turnout was lower in those areas – where the turnout was highest, people voted No. Get this, more people voted No last Thursday than voted for ALL parties in the Holyrood election of 2011.

Alex Salmond has blamed the older generation for him losing the 
referendum, but that’s not true. The 16 to 24-year-olds voted 51 to 49 per cent for the United Kingdom. The 40 to 59-year-olds voted No too, as did those over 60. Only one group, the 25 to 39-year-olds voted Yes. So let’s not go around blaming the old folk, young, old and middle aged voted 
No.

Indeed the majority of women voted No – is Salmond blaming women? It might be no surprise that those voters from the rest of the UK voted No – but so too did the majority of foreign residents from outside the UK despite us being told they would vote Yes.

More interestingly some 22 per cent of people who voted SNP in 2011 voted No – which equates to 198,641 voters, while 27 per cent of Labour voters chose Yes – the equivalent of only 170,224. So there we have it, more SNP supporters than Labour supporters switched sides – is Alex Salmond blaming SNP supporters for losing their faith in him?

Of course not. That would mean accepting personal responsibility himself.

Salmond and Sturgeon remind me of Conservatives back in the 80s who said it was not the message they communicated – but the way they (or the BBC) communicated that lost them elections in Scotland! Well the Tories were wrong then and the SNP is wrong now.

So much for Salmond and Sturgeon believing in the sovereign will of the Scottish people.