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Robert Reid: Change is on the cards whatever Scotland decides

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In my last column I suggested that the voting in the Scottish referendum on independence would be driven by the heart or the head. One person asked me if the yes vote was driven by the heart and the no vote driven by the head, or vice versa.

The answer is, of course, that it depends on what stimulates the voter more. Given that certain newspapers wish to derail the Government, I fully expect Braveheart to get a screening before next Thursday.

At the Better Together rally in Dundee, Gordon Brown made promises he had no power to grant, while Alistair Darling looked forlorn.

In contrast to Brown, Darling is not a member of the Teflon collective within the Labour hierarchy. If the result is yes, he will abide by democracy as his peers scramble for the places in the House of Lords. 

Brown continues to look like a smug self-styled superhero but compared to Milliband he is a PR expert. Just why he thought it necessary to bring up the topic of border guards is as puzzling as his brother’s decision to carry a banana in public.

As to reporting on the scramble of institutions to do the equivalent of a moonlight flit (a Scottish term for moving after darkness where you are unseen ) and run across the border; the journalism here had reached a new low. In many cases it demonstrated the lack of intellect in the tabloids and broadsheets combined.

None of these major companies can afford to move lock, stock and barrel to the south – the bulk of the staff would rebel. The brass plaques of their head offices may be down south, but the admin centres will remain where they are.

The other myth is the idea that the disconnection will take place over months and not years. In reality it will take years to disassemble the UK and set up new agencies in Scotland, unless pragmatism prevails and we share some. However, I am not sure who would pick the current regulator, the FCA, over starting afresh.

When the No campaign was promising all sorts this week, I reflected that other parts of the UK would seek similar treatment. Why not? I am sure they too can present a special case.

Many hold the view that the No campaign has been critical, but not inspirational, whereas the Yes team draw in the power of a dream. I feel this may prove to be more effective because inspiring the voter is always better than boring them rigid.

The question that no poll can answer is: what will the undecided voter do? They will tip the balance and which way remains unclear.

Whatever the result, we will see change. If the No campaign wins, then mass devolution will follow and a federated UK may emerge. Whether that works will not be easy to tell – a ’wait and see’ approach may be the only option.

I prefer Scottish comedian Kevin Bridges’ suggestion that we produce the six-pin plug and overcharge tourists from England for the convertors. That for me is one idea that could really catch on. 

Robert Reid is managing director of Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners

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  1. I don’t know when this article was drafted, but the Referendum is TODAY! Not next week!

    And I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Braveheart.

    What I have seen and heard is real passion in politics, for the first time in my life. A passion from both sides. From politicians and from real people.

    An Englishman on the Jon Snow debate on Channel 4 last night said he hoped Scotland would vote No – because if they did, he said that there might be a chance that some of the grassroots political energy that has so gripped Scotland may flow south and energise the rest of the UK to seek the change it needs.

    One other contributor to the debate said that irrespective of what the outcome is today that the days of the Union as we presently know it are numbered.

    I have voted No this morning – but I will not be as despondent as I had once been, and indeed quite recently, if it is Yes.

    But my No is conditional – if the Westminster political class do not deliver change and do so swiftly then when the next referendum is held within the next 5 years’ time – and then it may be unilateral – then I will emphatically vote Yes.

    And by change I do not mean just change in Scotland.

    We are where we are because of Mr Blair and Mr Brown – in 1997/8 they presided over a ramshackle constitutional dog’s breakfast reform. The House of Lords became part politically appointed and part hereditary; power was devolved to London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh but in differing degrees; and no one had the balls to even address let alone address the West Lothian Question.

    Why should Scots MPs who can vote exclusively in matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament have a vote on matters purely English? Like the Education Act of 1999 (I think!).

    And the Barnet formula – to be retained. Why? To bribe us Scots to voting No today?

    Have they taken no account of how all of that feels to people north of Watford or west of Offa’s Dyke?

    I am Scottish. I am British. And I don’t want politicians to have to make me chose. But I will if I have to.

    97% of those eligible to vote in Scotland have registered to vote today. One thing we have learned here in Scotland – politics and the future of your country are way too important to be left in the hands of the professional political class.

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