Gina Davidson: What happens if we vote No?

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A COUPLE of polls out this week seem to suggest that the independence campaign is pretty much where it started.

Despite all the debate – and perhaps some bullying, blustering, bravado and another word beginning with B – it appears that the majority of Scots are planning to vote No. Just as they were when the idea of a referendum was first mooted.

Of course, there are still six months to go and “everything to play for” as the politicians like to say about the undecideds, but right now it looks as though the vote won’t go the Nationalists’ way.

I’m not surprised at the polls. So far the whole debate has been of the “I’m right, you’re wrong” variety, playground politics which turns off those voters interested enough to watch and read what our politicos are saying while further alienating those who don’t believe voting changes anything and therefore never bother.

The sometimes juvenile behaviour of politicians unfortunately has a cascading effect on their supporters. And even as I dip my toe into this debate, I wonder what abuse will be slung in my direction.

For you cannot have an opinion about Scottish independence – and certainly not if you work in the “biased mainstream media” – without either being decried in the foulest terms by Nationalists or made a mockery of by those who want to keep the UK together.

Such is the bitterness that surrounds the issue, it makes me contemplate the outcome of a the referendum with dread.

And if, as the polls predict, it goes to the Nos, what will be the reaction of those who are most extreme in their hatred towards Westminster, who truly believe that Scots live under the yoke of English rule, and who seem to forget that there is currently a devolved parliament?

How will those Nationalists (though perhaps it’s just those with access to social media) whose rhetoric is that if you’re not with us, you’re against us – they being “true Scots” who keep their porridge in a drawer – deal with a loss? All that rage and anger which seems so apparent on phone-in shows, Twitter, letters pages . . . where will it be channelled?

Of course, there will be disillusionment among many Yes campaigners should they lose, and on a far larger scale than I recall among Labour Party supporters when the 1992 general election was lost.

But at least they were then able to lift themselves up and say “OK, we lost, now we campaign even harder”. The Nationalists won’t have that option. There will be little if any appetite among the Scottish populace in general for another referendum fight, no matter how close the vote may be – and I admit I felt like weeping when I heard Alex Salmond is suggesting that they would try again after 18 years.

Perhaps all that will happen is an increase in the number of prescriptions being written for antidepressants as people get used to defeat, but the bitter and divisive nature of the debate worries me for the aftermath of the referendum, if the vote is No.

Our politicians leading the debate have to ensure that the chasm opening up between people during the intense heat of the campaign can be narrowed again in the future. For that we need an end to knee-jerk reactions when someone’s opinion does not coincide with your own, more honesty about the risks inherent in independence rather than immediate dismissal of them, and more flesh on the bone from the pro-Union parties about what they can offer Scots if they vote to stay in the UK.

More than anything we need to be able to say it’s OK if you feel independence is the only way to have a fairer society in Scotland, it’s OK if you feel that being part of the UK is Scotland’s best option to achieve that end. For after September 18 we will all still be family, friends and neighbours. We will all still be Scots.

Gaynor will be sadly missed

IT was terribly sad to hear the news that Gaynor Salisbury, owner of Morningside tearoom Loopy Lorna’s, had passed away, her long battle with cancer finally coming to an end when she was only 54.

But what a remarkable woman she was. I met her two years ago after she’d just been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer which had forced her to take a back seat in the business she established in the name of her beloved mother, who also had died from cancer.

She was receiving chemo and had lost her hair, but her smile couldn’t have been broader, her enthusiasm for her business more obvious – especially as it had just been named eatery of the year.

She said she had been lucky to have “great people around to help” when she was ill. I think Edinburgh was lucky to have had her inspirational input into the social life of the city.