Scotland c ounts the c osts af ter v ote
EDINBURGH — Scots may have voted overwhelmingly against independence, but the c onsequences of the r eferendum are likely to reverberate for years to c ome.
The counting of votes is over in Scotland’s referendum on independence — now the country will have to calculate the c osts.
According t o the Sc ottish g overnment, or ganising the poll c ost some £13,7 million (R247 million), with millions more being spent by campaigners.
But the political and per sonal costs have been much higher, and could take far long er t o as sess.
“The debate has created some deep divisions in our c ountry. It has been a campaign that has energised and divided,” Alis tair D arling, f ormer B ritish chancellor and leader of the prounion Better T ogether camp aign, said aft er the r esult was c onfirmed.
It is a c omment that man y on the streets ha ve echoed.
“It’s made people interested in politics ag ain. T hey’ve suddenl y g ot the feeling that their vote can make a difference,” one “Yes” campaigner, who only gave his name as G ary, t old DPA.
The figur es would r eflect that. A ccording to official statistics, 97% of the electorate r egistered t o v ote. Turnout was 84,5%. That number w as 63,8% in the g eneral election of 2010.
In the country of five million, thou sands of electoral workers in more than 2 600 polling s tations t allied some 3,5 million b allots aft er elections that ran from 7 am to 10 pm, in a grand show of democr acy.
In the days before the vote, it was the major topic of conversation across the country, and across a wide spectrum of age gr oups.
The referendum was “a triumph f or the democratic process and for participation in politics”, said Alex Salmond, leader of the “Yes” campaign, as he conceded def eat.
But the camp aign was deepl y di visive. Canvassers on both sides spoke of occasional intimidation and threats, although polic e said that v ery f ew incidents had been r eported.
People on both sides said that the issue had e xposed di visions bet ween Scots and English, rich and poor, town and c ountry.
“It’s di vided f amilies; it’ s di vided friends,” said one “N o” camp aigner. “It’s polarised people and caused a lot of illfeeling, and that’s not going to go away.”
The political cost, too, is high. In the final weeks of campaigning, the British government pr oposed le gislation granting more powers to the Sc ottish authorities. Early yesterday, Prime Minister D avid Cameron announc ed that draft legislation to that effect would be published b y J anuary. — S apaDPA.