What a campaign that was! For more than two years we have been involved in unprecedented events, with Scottish Independence being a major topic of conversation in every family, community and workplace and on doorsteps the length and breadth of the nation.
The Yes campaign attracted active participants who had never taken an active role in political campaigning before, as well as large numbers of people who were already members of political parties, including Labour and other Unionist parties, uniting in support of a positive vision for a fairer Scotland exercising all the democratic powers, domestically and internationally, enjoyed by normal independent countries. The declaration of support for Independence by the Sunday Herald was very much welcomed. No longer is the Scots Independent the only Independence-supporting paper in Scotland!
Unfortunately, the relentless negativity and scare tactics of the self-styled 'Project Fear" campaign were enthusiastically reported, and supported, by the ever-loyal Unionist media. That onslaught did not prevent the opinion poll trend from showing a steady rise in support for Yes, leading to the Westminster panic which saw Gordon Brown, presumably working for the Tory Government, 'guaranteeing' a timetable for the delivery of more powers to the Scottish Parliament. Strange that Mr Brown had no such ideas while he had the power to deliver them as Prime Minister at Westminster!
The end result of our historic referendum was, of course, very disappointing to me and to many others who have been campaigning for decades in favour of Independence for Scotland. But we all have a job to do now, accepting the democratic outcome and ensuring that the hastily cobbled-together Unionist promises of more powers are made real in the strongest and most meaningful way possible. Past experience shows that the Westminster unionist parties usually strive to give up as little power as they can get away with.
But, not this time! No one could have predicted the momentous events which have occurred since the referendum result was declared. The amazing, and entirely spontaneous, surge in SNP membership has taken the Party to the status of third largest party membership in the whole UK, pushing the LibDems into fourth place. At the time of writing, the SNP has more than 75,000 paid-up members, over 48,000 new members since the referendum, and still increasing daily.
The Yes movement is clearly expressing a will to continue actively pushing for real political change in Scotland, and this massive membership increase indicates an expression of con.dence that the SNP can be relied upon to keep up the necessary pressure on Westminster to deliver maximum devolution. We must therefore look ahead to the Westminster elections to be held next May, and ensure the election of the largest possible number of SNP MPs. There can be no better way to keep up the necessary pressure on the Westminster parties.
We have not won a referendum Yes vote, but we have generated the momentum required to bring more political power to our own Parliament. Let us make sure that the Westminster parties are forced to follow their last-ditch campaign promises with a substantially enhanced package of powers devolved.