Reflections on the Scottish Referendum Vote.

I have often observed that the level of support for Scottish Independence is mirrored by the fortunes of the Scottish Football team. Earlier this month Scotland played Germany in Germany and lost 2-1. The Germans scored first, followed by an equaliser that was closely followed by the German winner. Gordon Strachan the Scottish manager reckoned his team had played good enough to get a result even though they lost. As the results of Thursday’s referendum were being read out the early ones were for the No campaign but a string of results for the Yes Campaign drew them ahead briefly before the avalanche of No results put the matter beyond doubt. The Yes Campaign seemed to have played well enough to win in many respects but it lost. But unlike the Germany game there is no return match. At least not for the foreseeable future.
So now the Yes supporters are rather like the Israelites in the book of Numbers (chapters 13 and 14) when they first reached the borders of the Promised Land. 12 spies had been sent into the land, 2 reported favourably that the land was good and that with the Lord’s help all their enemies could be overcome. The other 10, however, saw only the difficulties and magnified them seeing all the inhabitants as giants. So Israel lost heart and rebelled. This resulted at them having to wait nearly 40 years before they could enter the land. Some Israelites regretted the rebellion and tried to enter the land by themselves only to receive a bloody nose and had to retreat. Surely a warning about doing anything too rashly and prematurely to try and force the issue in the aftermath. We have no idea when another opportunity will arise to hold another referendum. “Not again in our lifetime,” might be a little pessimistic, as Harold Wilson famously said that a week is a long time in politics. So a lifetime might not turn out to be so long after all. English backbenchers have long been unhappy about Scottish MPs voting on England only legislation and equally they are suspicious of powers being transferred away from Westminster. One Tory MP has defected to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and is expected to win the by-election that he called by resigning his seat. It is claimed that other MPs are prepared to defect if he wins. That would lead English politics into uncharted territory. Any MP who defected to UKIP would no longer be subject to the discipline of the parties who pledged to give further powers to the Scottish Parliament and become a rallying point for opposition.
Meanwhile in Scotland the First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced his intended resignation as First Minister and SNP leader. This took his supporters by complete surprise but he appears to have very wise, after all the campaigning he clearly felt the need of a sabbatical, but have we seen the last of him? After his batteries have been recharged I am sure he will be looking for something to do, if only as an elder statesman of the party. Returning to the book of Numbers after failure to enter the land we hear little of Caleb, one of the two spies who gave a positive report, during the 40 wilderness years, it is only when the Israelites were getting ready for crossing the Jordan River that he is mentioned again.
I started writing this post the weekend after the referendum, and there have been many political developments both north and south of the border since. There have been calls for the nation to come together and heal their divisions. Some of this seems to be coming from the ‘No’ camp supporters who being victorious who are expecting ‘Yes’ campaigners to abandon all hope of an independent Scotland and wander around in sackcloth and ashes. There is bemusement that the defeated camp seem confident that in time Scotland’s independence has only been delayed, instead of being full of woe and despair. But real peace-making involves more than papering over the cracks. It comprises efforts to understand both sides of the arguments even if at the end of the day you agree to disagree. It is easy to see the speck in your brother’s eye, but the Lord said to first take the plank out of your own eye. But it is human nature to try and justify our failings that to such an extent that we see the metaphorical plank as a God-given appendage to which we can attach our own colours. As Christians we have to accept that there are many moral issues that should there be a referendum on them we would lose if opinion polls are to be believed (abortion, assisted suicide, same sex marriage, etc.). The pressure is on the Church to modernise their positions on these things and many others and conform with the majority rather than conform to the Word of God. So any Christian who voted No should wary of condemning Yes voters just because their were in the minority in the vote. After all Moses did not give up his dream of entering the Holy Land, even if it ended up with Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan.
Meanwhile the leaders of the parties who supported the No campaign have had their troubles to seek. David Cameron got himself in trouble with the Queen when his conversation with ex-Major Bloomberg of New York was caught on camera. Then in quick succession another of his MPs defected to UKIP and one of his ministers had to resign in a sex scandal. Labour’s Ed Miliband forgot part of his conference speech, and Nick Clegg found that his party is no longer the third party of British politics as their membership has been overtaken by the SNP which has more than doubled its membership (it has nearly trebled in the nine days since the defeat had been announced). As one political commentator noted that the dictum that history is written by the victors has been confounded by the Scottish Government’s initiative to hold the Unionist parties to their promises of more powers to the Scottish Parliament. In the SNP agreeing to join in the dialogue the Unionist parties may have to concede more powers than they otherwise intended. If things go on like this then the No win will begin to look like a Pyrrhic victory.
David Rose, 2014.

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About davidgrose

I am a Bible believing Christian, brought up in the Brethren Movement, and now find myself associating with charismatics even though I do not always agree with them. I am in full-time employment. I have interests in history and photography amongst others.
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