By Casey Taylor
A little bruised and now a man down, the union between Scotland, England and Wales remains strong.
Scots took to the polls Thursday to decide whether to cut ties with its geographical brothers and forge its own future.
The answer, “No”, forced Alex Salmond to resign as First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party.
Clackmannanshire spelt the beginning of the end as the first to report in with 54 per cent to 46 per cent for the No’s, almost the exact results for Scotland as a whole.
The No side won with more than 55 per cent of the vote compared to just under 45 per cent for the Yes. In the end, only four of 32 council areas voted for independence.
““it’s a sad result,” said Donna Wolff, owner of The Caledonian, a Scottish pub in Toronto. “But it’s the start of the movement, we are actually going to change, Scotland’s going to change and I think this is actually the start for us.”
“I think changing the vote to 16, giving the kids a voice, I think we’ll see these kids in another 15 years when we can actually do the vote again and seeing them a Yes,” said Wolff.
In Toronto, Scottish pubs like The Caledonian near College Street and Ossington Avenue were at max capacity until late into the vote.
“They’ve been here since two,” said Wolff of her patrons as results slowly began coming in.
The pub was projecting a live stream of the referendum on to a screen large enough for everyone in the packed house to see.
The majority to turn out at the Pub were obvious Yes proponents. Decked in all blue and cloaked in the Scottish flag, disappointment radiated from much of the crowd as the night wore on.
Not all were completely on board with independence though.
“Well we’re here, so, we’re Yes for now,” said a closet No outside the bar, glancing around at the see of blue in the line ahead of them.
Another said, “I think economically it would be really tough for Scotland, it’s a small country, it’s a small population relative to the rest of the UK.”
“Apparently all the No’s are at Jack Astor’s,” shouted one woman as her and the group she was with rushed off to find a more hospitable venue.
Although the night didn’t end up going quite the way she had hoped, Wolff was far from deterred.
“It’s small steps,” she said, “but in my lifetime we will see Scotland returned to the people.”
After the defeat, Alex Salmond announced he will resign as Scotland’s First Minister and head of his political party.
During the immediate aftermath of polls closing, Salmond, 59, relatively seemed to take the defeat in stride, looking forward to a brighter future despite a No vote.
Let’s not dwell on the distance we’ve fallen short – let us dwell on the distance we have travelled
— Alex Salmond (@AlexSalmond) September 19, 2014
Only ten hours later, Salmond posted a statement to his Twitter page in which he announces his plans to resign saying, “the real guardians of progress are not the politicians at Westminster, or even at Holyrood, but the energised activism of tens of thousands of people who I predict will refuse meekly to go back into the political shadows.”
“Alex Salmond to me was always the guy to get us to independence,” said Wolff. “But I didn’t feel he was our leader for Scotland.”
She says that in the final days Salmond really seemed to catch his stride.
“It was the first time to me he felt like a leader,” she said.
Even with the majority of the population voting to remain with Great Britain, major changes abound in Scotland’s future.
Among the promises Westminster hastily announced in the immediate run-up to the vote was for further devolution of powers including those over taxation and on use of the welfare budget.
Each the Scottish, Welsh and Irish now also all have the right to have only their representatives vote in Westminster on issues that only affect them. This now leaves England alone in its inability to also do the same.
“It’ll be interesting to see what powers they actually give us,” said Wolff. “Because I doubt it’s going to happen.”
“It’ll be interesting these next couple months what we actually get and what they take back,” she said.
Wolff says she thinks the standard of living in Scotland should be higher than what they are.
She says once people start to realize that and Westminster start to renege on some of their promises, people will begin to regret voting No.
Along with drawing the typically Canadian Quebec comparisons from the Scottish referendum, many are now turning their heads to Catalonia.
On Nov. 9, 2014, Catalans will similarly head to the polls in their own opportunity for independence, this time, from Spain.
“I believe in one thing, that democracy can only be served when the people choose what kind of government they want,” said Josep Lluís Pérez de Arce, President of the Catalan Centre of Toronto. “Unfortunately, the President of the Spanish government refuses to allow the Catalan people to choose the same way that the British government at least allow to the Scottish people to choose what they would like to be.”
— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) September 19, 2014