VANCOUVER – Nay may have won the day, but Caledonian-Canadians who supported Scottish independence in Thursday’s historic referendum say their dream isn’t dead, and at the very least change to the political system is coming.
Fifty-five per cent of Scots who cast ballots in Thursday’s referendum chose not to break their country’s 307-year-old union with the United Kingdom.
For Edinburgh resident Harry McGrath, who has dual British-Canadian citizenship, the vote doesn’t mean an end to the sovereignty movement, especially with younger voters.
“I don’t get any sense here that the younger people in favour of independence are going to give it up. No, they’ll still be there,” said McGrath, the former co-ordinator of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.
McGrath said he thinks the Yes forces could get another chance if politics in the United Kingdom don’t change, the parliament at Westminster drifts to the right and Britain holds a referendum on its membership in the European Union.
Political parties in Britain’s parliament have promised to hand off more power to Scotland. In his comments after the results were known, British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to deliver on promises made to Scotland ahead of vote. But McGrath said some politicians are already balking at those plans.
Still, McGrath said he’s disappointed by the results because he voted Yes.
“I still think it’s a pretty amazing campaign by Yes to even get that close, but, nevertheless, it doesn’t prevent you from feeling disappointed that we didn’t go over the line.”
Leith Davis, a professor of English at Simon Fraser University and the current director of the Centre for Scottish Studies, said she was surprised the Yes and No sides were so far apart when the results were announced.
Citizens and politicians will now have to reconsider the U.K.’s political arrangement, especially because the “fear of the possibility of independence” was raised in the last two weeks of the campaign.
“I think there’s going to have to be change,” she said.
Davis said she is disappointed by the results, but the world is now looking at Scotland differently.
“I think to see a nation that can have this kind of conversation in a peaceful and democratic way where they’re so strong, such strong difference of opinion, the rest of us should take notes and be envious,” she said.