All I remember is fear and loathing from 2014's so-called ‘summer of love’ - Susan Dalgety
It was a job I had done dozens of times before, in local council elections and in polls for Westminster and Holyrood. But never had it mattered so much. The people wandering into the church hall were not about to choose their local councillor for the next few years, or even the government of the day, but whether we woke up the next morning in a new country or remained British citizens.
I have never hid my allegiance to the UK. I dislike intensely the nickname “Yoon” which clever nationalist strategists dreamt up for those of us who don’t want to leave the union. It’s designed to tar us with the same sectarian brush as old-style Unionists in Northern Ireland – the bellowing, puritanical men who shouted “no surrender” while hiding behind gunmen. But I do love being part of the union that unites Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It is who I am. My identity. And on September 18, 2014, I was terrified I was going to lose it.
Thankfully, the people of Scotland voted no by a margin of ten points (55 to 45), and here in Edinburgh the divide was even more stark, with 60 per cent voting to stay in the UK. I have heard some people describe the 2014 referendum campaign as the “summer of love”, but it is not a term I recognise. All I remember is fear and sometimes loathing, usually from online trolls who dismissed people like me as “quislings” and “traitors”.
Now that Nicola Sturgeon is no longer around to stoke division in her inimitable style, I am hopeful that our MSPs in Holyrood will get on with their day job of improving people’s lives. After a series of shocks, from Brexit to the pandemic, we all need a long period of calm and stability. I am not ruling out another referendum on whether Scotland should leave the UK, but hopefully it won’t happen again in my lifetime. And I intend living to a ripe old age.