On Thursday I’ve booked my ticket for the political spectacle of a lifetime: a train back to Glasgow where I lived for 18 years – for the referendum results.
On Friday, whatever happens, Britain will be different. It’s only a question of ‘how different?’ now.
Today I’m musing about the many other devolutions or claims for independence that this will trigger. All the more so if the “Yes” comes good.
I relate to the deep national pride that stimulated the Scottish uprising. I felt it the moment I arrived in Dundee aged 19. It was familiar to me because I’m a Yorkshire man. Like many others our regional pride (if not bigotry!) runs deep.
And here on the brink of history let’s face it – the nation is coming apart a little further. The physical tectonic plates may not be shifting, but the emotional ones are.
This gut-level stirring doesn’t seem universal here in the south of England. In fact there’s probably just a little queasiness.
Yet the government has shifted big-time in the last few weeks – offering the kind of devolution package to Scotland that suggests they’ve felt the seismic tremors and are ready to respond to more local demands for self-rule. Instead of Localism we appear to be on the road to an appeasing Regionalism.
This may change the picture for most UK citizens.
We don’t seem to be able to hold together as a nation so easily any more. The identity doesn’t match the polity and the polity doesn’t seem to matter – if voter turnout is anything to go by.
I can’t wait to find out what happens on Friday. But it’s partly because the Referendum has actually gripped the young. It’s in the balance and a whole nation is beginning to grasp what a difference a vote makes. That’s got to be an object lesson for those 16 year olds placing their mark on a ballot paper for the first time.
There are probably more segments of the UK who might grasp a moment of uprising from it. But the real surge has come from the fact that for once something palpably precious is at stake.
It may not be long before the English North/South divide triggers the same passion. Particularly if the economic recovery has such a skewed benefit to the South rather than the North. It shows why political choices are so important – and yet how hard it now is to hold it all together…