Tuesday 17 July 2018

Bravehearts vanquished by silent foe in clinical rout

A police horse rears up as pro-union protestors clash with pro-independence protestors during a demonstration at George Square in Glasgow, Scotland September 19, 2014.
A police horse rears up as pro-union protestors clash with pro-independence protestors during a demonstration at George Square in Glasgow, Scotland September 19, 2014.
Supporters from the "Yes" Campaign react as they sit in George Square in Glasgow, Scotland September 19, 2014.
Deflated "Yes" campaign balloons lie on the grass in George Square after Scotland voted against becoming an independent country, in Glasgow, September 19, 2014.
Pro-union protestors chant and wave Union Flags during a demonstration at George Square in Glasgow, Scotland September 19, 2014.
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

The Royal Mile through Edinburgh turned into a boulevard of broken dreams yesterday for the Yes side as they tasted bitter defeat in the Scottish Independence referendum.

Outside the Royal Oak bar, pro-independence musician Kevin Gore looked ashen-faced as he pondered how so many locals - over 60 pc in Scotland's capital - had voted No.

"Where did all the No voters come from?" asked a mystified Kevin. "We rarely saw the flags and the badges."

Alistair Darling, the quiet-spoken leader of the pro-Union Better Together campaign, explained it: "The silent have spoken."

Kevin told me he had been so confident of a positive result that he had recorded his own song, Independence Day, and put it up on YouTube. It is unlikely to be a hit now.

Having suffered a bludgeoning defeat, the Scottish Nationalists later had to adjust to the departure of their leader, First Minister Alex Salmond, in the afternoon.

In the square outside the Scottish Parliament a Yes supporter played a piper's lament. The referendum loss and the resignation were too much for some of the forlorn campaigners and they burst into tears.

The mood among the victorious No voters on the streets was one of relief rather than elation.

If they were overjoyed, they were reluctant to show it in a way that might goad their opponents.

After much effort I did manage to find one group of No supporters in the Holyrood Bar as they nursed pints at lunchtime.

The smiles said it all, but one of them, Ian King, was almost apologetic.

"I am not really celebrating but, having voted No, I have reason to be happy," he said. "You don't want to be smug though."

Where were the street parties, the singing and the dancing?

There were no Union flags waving, or car horns hooting. Triumphalism of any sort was absent.

Earlier in the wee hours, Dannie Patterson explained in the vernacular why the naysayers were not whooping it up: "All the old yins are in their kip."

If most of the No voters were indeed in their beds as the results rolled in, it was because they had to be up early for work.

I met them mostly at bus stops, or shuffling along, coffee in hand, to their offices.

In the city centre near Edinburgh University, Jane Campbell tried to be magnanimous in victory.

"There are a lot of people in Scotland with their dreams shattered," said the No voter. "I feel sorry for them."

The dream of an independent Scotland had all seemed possible until Thursday night.

As the results arrived some of the Yes voters in the pubs were so caught up in the emotion of it all that they could not quite believe that they had lost.

When the low percentages finally sank in, Yes supporter Jonathan McAllister said he was "sad, angry, heartbroken, stunned, disappointed, sick, gutted... and lots more".

But Samantha Murphy, who had just arrived into town on her morning commute soon after dawn, told me: "It's time for the independence campaigners to let it go.

"This has been settled for a generation, and I don't think we'll see another vote like this in our lifetime.

"Intelligence has won out over emotion," she added.

In the end the blue-striped Bravehearts on the Yes side, who made the biggest noise right across the country, had been overcome by a silent foe.

The supporters of the union wore fewer badges, tweeted less and did not wrap themselves in flags, but they used their power at the ballot box to deadly effect.

Irish Independent

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