You’ve been putting it about that those of us who voted No in last week’s referendum have been tricked by the vow from the three pro-UK parties. That’s a bit of a presumption, to be honest. It assumes, to start with, that all of the 55% who opposed independence did so purely on the basis of a slightly inept Vow from the pro UK party leaders.
That Vow will be kept. We will get the powers promised. The parties are unlikely to fail, given that their own future depends on them doing so. Yes, the waters were muddied with Cameron deciding to choose the moment to pick a fight with Ed Miliband to overshadow his Conference. While I might not be pleased about that, it’s irrelevant to what’s happening in Scotland. We’ve had it from Miliband, we’ve had it from Downing Street and we know that Danny Alexander has been kicking some Tory backside to ensure that new Scottish powers are not dependent on the more complex English issues being sorted out.
You know all this, of course. You also knew on Friday that you were lying to the Scottish people when you said that Cameron had reneged on the promise that there would be a Second Reading of the Bill by 27th March. That was never part of the deal. It was always going to be debated after the General Election.
I suppose it was too much to ask that you would actually act like a First Minister to the whole country which you have divided. You have personally come out with this divisive Team Scotland stuff. You have sat by while members of your party, included elected representatives, have said things like you are a bad parent if you vote No, that Alistair Carmichael is a “supposed Scot”. You have allowed a senior person in the Yes movement to threaten a Day of Reckoning against opponents. These are the things that fuelled the abuse that many No campaigners, 46% of us, experienced on the ground. On Friday, you could have said something that brought us all together. Instead you stoke up further division in a thinly veiled and cynical attempt to create political capital for your successor.
If you can’t act as First Minister for the whole country, then it is right that you should resign.
Be in no doubt, I voted No primarily because of the horribly divisive nature of your campaign and the fact that you were making promises about the currency, about EU membership that you just couldn’t keep. I voted No because of the destabilising threats you made not to take debt and to blockade our fishing waters if you didn’t get your way. I voted No because you didn’t take my concerns seriously and come up with some convincing answers.
I voted No because I think it makes sense to make some decisions at a UK level. I voted No because the UK might not be perfect but it has delivered the best health care service in the world, it’s leading the world on tackling violence against women and girls and providing humanitarian aid.
I voted No because the last thing I wanted to do was to give your illiberal party counter-terrorism powers when you have a Justice Secretary who has put armed police on the street against the wishes of local communities, who has no respect for human rights and who is perfectly comfortable with unregulated stop and search. If the record of the coalition government was relevant, then so was yours.
Most of all, I voted No because I didn’t see how we could really make things better for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society while playing Chicken with their currency and when respected independent organisations said we’d have to find an extra £6 billion a year just to fund the services we currently have.
You should be stating very clearly that the referendum, which your government was in charge of, was conducted with scrupulous propriety, that the videos purporting to show electoral fraud are wrong. You should be showing willing to work with the UK Parliament, to put your ideas forward for more powers. I never thought the three parties should stitch it up between themselves. I always thought the SNP should be part of the process and civil society and ordinary people too. But you only seem interested in prolonging the agony and division. You don’t seem to have any interest in leading one nation. If the SNP is going to regain the trust of the majority of the nation, your successor will have to show willing to do so.
The way you have behaved throughout the campaign and since the very decisive result has shaken my faith in the SNP. I’ve always been relaxed about an independence referendum. In fact, I made a mad dash from Perth to Edinburgh in 2007 in a vain attempt to persuade Liberal Democrat MSPs to agree to it. Now that I’ve seen what you were going to do, to portray people who don’t agree with independence as somehow not proper Scots, I’m thinking for the first time that I might have been wrong then.
And now you’re apparently telling us that we don’t even need another referendum to be independent.
I’d hoped the SNP was now going to spend the last year and a half of its term solving the problems that caused people to vote Yes, to tackle the poverty and housing. Your government has cut the budget for social housing. You need to start thinking about what you can do with the powers you have to make their lives better. If you did that, you would get a lot of people who voted No onside too, because we care about these things too.
When I think what Labour and the Liberal Democrats achieved together, free personal care, fair votes for local government, free eye and dental checks, land reform which empowers individuals and communities, it looks so much more impressive and transformative than anything the SNP has done in 7 years. Time to stop complaining about what you can’t do and get on with the things you can. I won’t be holding my breath.