A breathtaking campaign of the supporters and opponents of Scottish Independence has ended with a historic referendum on the status of Scotland, held this Thursday. The majority of 4 million voters opted for staying in the United Kingdom to prove that 300-year old union should last in the 21-st century.
Brenda Kutchinksy, retired business woman who lives in Scotland, voting “No”, Keith Cuthbertson, Professor of Finance at Cass Business School, shared their opinions with Radio VR.
How do you feel about the results?
Brenda Kutchinksy: I've been up most of the night watching. I feel so relived, like a weight’s been lifted off me, very emotional. I'm so happy. The silent majority did speak out and common sense ruled the day.
Of course, you must have voted “no”. But tell us, why did you vote “no”?
Brenda Kutchinksy: Because I'm Scottish and British. I don’t like barriers and borders. We are much better together, especially in the world in which we live today. We need to be together. I have three children who live in London, who would have lived in a foreign country. I would have lost my British passport which I've had all my life. And the SNP Government didn’t ever answer any of the economic questions. But it was a bad emotion for me. You know, family, a shared history. Most people did vote “no”, thank god. I didn’t want Scotland to become a narrow insular little country. It was emotional, as well as practical.
You wrote an article where you said that you are the only “no” person in the village where you live. Please, tell us, what do you think will be the reaction in the rest of the place where you live?
Brenda Kutchinksy: I think I shall be very quiet, will not be running around. But I've got a big smile on my face. I think it is going to be very difficult. I think it is going to take time. There is bound to be a lot of anger. I also live in the SNP heartland. You know, Alex Salmond lives not far away from me. But he lost Aberdeen, he was defeated. It was 60% “no”, here where he lives. And Aberdeen city, the big city was a “no”. So, maybe I'm isolated where I am, but the whole county voted “no”. So, there are a lot of people like me. It is just unfortunate that none of them live besides me.
But I'm so happy with that, we will deal with that, we will move forward as Scots do. It’s been democracy at its best and we are going to move forward, and we will be a lot healthier country. So, I think for everyone it is going to be good.
Why do you think the result was that close?
Keith Cuthbertson: I think originally there wasn’t much on the “no” campaign and they were looking as if they might lose. But I think at the end there was a lot of scare-mongering. I think a lot of people, for example, believed that they would have no currency, which was part of the argument what currency will Scotland have afterwards. Well, it is obvious; they would have had a currency. Anyone can use sterling. You can use sterling if you want to. So, that was a bit of scare-mongering.
I think the move of the headquarters south as well, that various companies like the Royal Bank of Scotland was saying they were going to move their headquarters. That didn’t mean to say that they are going to move out of Scotland. And I think some got scared by that at the last minute, because it came at the last minute. So, there wasn’t that much time to put the counterargument to it.
What is the main lesson which comes out of the vote, and the lesson not only to the UK but to the world?
Keith Cuthbertson: I think the thing that comes out of it really, unfortunately, is how remote and aloof Westminster can appeal to anyone outside of the southeast, because that’s what the Scots were really concerned about. They felt that they weren’t getting a fair deal and wanted a slightly different economy, and a slightly different way of doing things than in England.
Now, for Scotland in a way, even with the “no” vote, Christmas has still come early. The only problem is that they’ve been promised certain things, but again, I think this is very bad. They don’t really know what they’ve been promised in terms of tax and extra welfare spending. But certainly, they will be in some general sense better off, because of the campaign, I suppose, that the “yes” people have put forward.
What steps will the Government have to take, to make sure that both sides of this referendum are happy with what happens next?
Keith Cuthbertson: Of course, the Westminster Government now will have to deliver on these relatively vague promises to Scotland. And that will be a big debate between now and the general election in May next year. Then, there would be an awful blowup about what powers England should have. After all, Scotland is allowed to rise a little bit of its taxes already. It is given a “block grant” and it can put that “block grant” wherever it likes in terms of education and health. But the “yes” people wanted far more tax razing powers.
So, I think there will be a much longer debate in England about devolved power. And that will be tough, I think, both on the Conservative Party and I think it will raise lots of questions for the Labour Party as well, who have lost some power and influence in Scotland over this debate.