I voted Yes last week. Like many others in Scotland I was gutted with the result.
I have always felt that I am British. My family origins are in south east England, around London, and I spent my childhood between Essex and rural mid Wales. I have lived much of my adult life in Scotland.
If Scotland had become an independent country I do not know if I would have taken up a Scottish passport or stayed as a UK citizen.
But I still felt passionately that it was right to vote Yes.
Me and 1.6 million other people.
A small number of people did this for narrow, small minded, petty nationalist reasons. There were xenophobes, English haters, and other general nasties – but no more so than can be found in any group of people. There were similar nasties in the ‘No’ voting group, as evidenced by the disturbances in George Square in Glasgow on Friday night.
The nasties did not define the attraction of the Yes movement for an independent Scotland.
The basis of ‘the 45’ (percent) vote was hope and respect, not hatred or fear.
It was not about the break up of the United Kingdom or about a dislike of English people. To put it simply, when an adult child wants to leave home and set up on their own, it is not because they hate their parents, it is simply that they feel the time is right for them look after themselves.
The Yes vote was a gesture of self-confidence, about the desire to make this small part of Europe and the British Isles a place that can work on its own terms.
To my regret, this was not shared by enough people to win the day. We have not been given the chance to show how well an independent Scotland could get on with our brothers and sisters in the rest of Britain.
But this is not the end of the story. We are clear that this was a once in a generation opportunity for Scotland. Both Cameron and Salmond have ruled out the possibility of the referendum being repeated soon.
Even so, the desire for this change will not disappear in Scotland. The thunderingly loud call of 1.6 million people cannot be easily ignored or brushed aside.
Scotland will one day be independent, just as other countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have become independent from the UK.
For that to happen, there is clearly a lot more work that needs to be done. It will not happen on its own.
Scotland will achieve independence when it feels it is the right time. Obviously this was not the time.
There was too much fear and caution. Economic fear (very understandable after the years of recession, and the turbulence of the international markets) and caution about the unknown steps that needed to be taken.
The other path, the one offered by the ‘No’ supporters was equally unknown. It will take us along a route that is very different from where we have been before, but it looked more familiar and so seemed more safe and secure.
When the time is right for independence, these opposites will be reversed. Independence will be the attractive and seemingly secure path to take. When that happens, the independence movement will need to offer a future that we feel we know and understand. We will have to learn ways in which that can come about.
But an independent Scotland will happen one day.