It was the day Scotland rejected its own independence.
It was the word rejected that cut me. I could deal with the headlines "The United Kingdom remains" and "Scotland votes to stay" but headlines that used the word rejected cut me right across my heart. Rejected.
I'm aware I'm meant to accept the vote of the people and unite with the rest of Scotland. But I'm feeling let down, disappointed, upset and I ended up walking around like a bit of a zombie yesterday (was maybe a bit to do with watching the count at 3am). I had started out as a no supporter with not much reason other than feeling a bit British and I stubbornly didn't read much on the matter. Then I did. And I slowly changed. I seen the arguments. And I began to see why people were feeling very passionately about this. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.
I got to the point where I couldn't see the reasons for voting no. The White Paper answered as much as it could. World-class and Noble Prize winning economists said we could do it. The Scottish Parliament had already proven itself. We are a peaceful first world nation wanting to break away from another peaceful first-world nation. It was a chance to write our own story.
And as I began to read more I understood what kind of country the United Kingdom really was. It was most certainly not okay. And I began to lose any British identity I had and I decided this wasn't a country I wanted to be part of.
Five council areas in Scotland had a majority yes vote. These council areas are also areas with high poverty rates. We all knew the working-class who needed change were more likely to vote yes and the upper-class who just didn't want it would say no. For me, the cries of the working class was one of the biggest factors that swung me. I could see the trend but I wasn't convinced separation was the answer however as the cries got louder I decided to not put my own fears of independence over their fears of having to continue living under the Westminster elite.
I've heard the arguments that working-class people in Glasgow aren't any more important than working class people in Birmingham. And I agree. They aren't. But this was a chance to lift thousand of people out of poverty and become a nation that treated its most vulnerable with dignity. A nation that could set an example to other nations to treat its citizens with respect no matter their income. And to rock the core of a self-serving House of Commons who still puts profit over people.
The thing is when you're living off food banks or can only afford one school shirt for your kid I can't imagine it being easy to stand tall with your working-class comrades in England when you have the chance to break away. You're desperate. And you'll do it. You'll say yes because this Tory Government has fucked you and the Labour Party that exists today are a shadow of their former selves. I wouldn't give a fuck about people's mortgage rates changing much either if I was struggling to heat my council house.
The morning of the 19th I many thoughts as many aspirations and hopes crumbled. But eventually I turned to one of the thoughts that had given me the strength to say yes when confronted with the ballot paper. And it was my cousin who really wanted independence. I hadn't known his full reasons as I don't see him much but I can imagine it has something with him being caught up in zero hours contracts and having to live in one of the most deprived areas of Aberdeen (ever been to Tillydrone? If not here's a taster - it's not where you live unless you have to). It cut me, and I welled up. I had to keep the thought out my head all day at work cause I knew it could cause me to drop tears. My life will be okay under Tory rule but he needed this new nation - this progressive nation I believed we could be. Lots of people needed it.
What has come out of this debate however has been participatory democracy that I hope we keep and rUK replicates. I've heard some Unionists say they believe we can fight austerity as one nation. I'm not convinced we can but I'm still determined to take on the establishment. It will take a lot more work as Scotland has a tiny influence on Westminster. We need to keep what happened up here alive, continue to remind the Government that 45% of people voted to leave (even if you said no it's worth reminding them about this when you campaign for the change you believe we can do together) and also pass this kind of democracy onto the rest of the UK. I'm looking to my English friends who make up the part of the UK with the most influence to take something from us: join a lesser-known party who stands for something, try your hardest to make your first-past-the-post elected MP someone who isn't one of the main three parties, go on protests, fight the UKIP, become an educated voter cause that makes Westminster shit their pants. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted out the Tories and now it's time for England to do the same. And given that former Labour heartlands voted yes I think Labour might get voted out of Scotland too - I don't trust any of the three main parties and they'll never get a vote out of me again.
Up here, us yes-voters have been crying but we're still fuelled and we're going nowhere. The Scottish Green Party have had an increase in membership (as have the SSP and the SNP, obviously) and I intend to join on payday. We're already getting behind the 45% campaign and we're holding the three main parties accountable to their pledge for more powers. I've said publicly that if Westminster stops being an arsehole I'll drop the whole independence thing and just get on with living in the union, but my hopes aren't high for change if I'm being honest with you and I reckon it will be the same old.
I'm holding the unionists who say they want change accountable. I wrote it when wounds were fresh but I stand by this tweet and this one. Already it looks like Westminster will break its promise for more powers (they said changes would happen on the 19th, they haven't). So far, the only people I've seen angry about this have been the yes-voters. Prove me wrong no-voters and campaign for the changes you say you want.
And to close this I am going to use a quote, which isn't by a famous person (I'm getting a bit sick of the Nelson Mandela quotes too) but by the everyday 'Drew Edward' (hi!) in the comments section of this article:
"The SNP only have to get lucky once. Unionists have to get lucky every time. Just like devolution, I've always suspected independence would take several referendums. The SNP have got to a national joke to party of power in a relatively short space of time. Now the genie is out of the bottle it will be hard to put back in."We might have lost this vote, but a yes vote is the only thing that will end what has now become a serious movement. It might not be until I'm in my thirties or older but if Westminster doesn't get the democratic kicking it deserves then eventually Scotland will say bye bye to it. Sort yourself out Westminster or, one day, the Scottish electorate will decide that they're not putting up with it.
We are the 45% and we won't be silenced.