Alex Salmond Resigns, But Can Be Proud Of His Incredible Success

Alex Salmond has announced that he will not be looking to continue as leader of the Scottish National Party at its Party Conference in November. He has tendered his resignation and will step down as First Minister in due course. 'For me as leader, my time is nearly over, but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.'

The referendum result was a a crushing blow for the independence movement in Scotland. There was a real appetite and sense of change in the air, with some of the biggest names in the world supporting the cause. However, their campaign fell short with 55% of the electorate voting No and 45% Yes. Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom and the fractious wound that it has exposed will need to be healed and overcome. I am happy with the result of the independence referendum because I support the United Kingdom in its current form and feared the economic uncertainty of the future.

However, I believe that even though Alex Salmond has resigned, he can hold his head high as one of the most influential and successful politicians of his generation. Scotland is a richer and more equitable place because of his influence. He is a politician of conviction and his charisma and appeals to the electorate have produced a scintillating referendum campaign. Gordon Brown deserves an honorary mention for transforming the lacklustre media No campaign recently.

The final result on a BBC map
Even as a supporter of the union, I believe that Scotland should be given greater chances to express its identity, as it has through policies such as tuition fees and its commitment to a public NHS. The No campaign feared his power so much that they promised him new powers. Including 'devo max', the much maligned possible third voting option.

There has been talk about a new form of federalism, which may have been overstated given the vast changes in politics that would entail. Nonetheless, the powers offered by all three political parties will help the vision of a fairer Scotland set out by the SNP. The backlash to these powers is nonsense. English MPs that are calling for an English Parliament overlooks the real reason why many Scottish people sought independence so passionately. They felt that being ruled by Westminster was out of touch with its values and far too detached to recognise the needs and desires of Scottish people. England does not have this problem since it is over represented by the narratives and actions of the British Parliament. London is a similar case.

The success of Alex Salmond can be seen in a second light, in addition to the devolution that he has enshrined. He can be proud of his achievements as SNP leader for over 20 years. This referendum is the peak of that triumph. He provoked a national debate on a huge scale that sent shockwaves around the world, even inviting intervention from Barack Obama. It was such an intense debate that it has produced breathtaking turnout figures. As a politics student raised on a diet of apathy and hatred for politics, it is heartwarming to know that even if ballots are a poor excuse for true democracy, people still care enough to make these decisions. A turnout of 85% is a triumph for both sides.

The way in which he managed to secure 45% of the vote, despite incredible uncertainties such as currency and accession to the EU is remarkable. Rather than have a constitutional convention and present it in a concrete form to the electorate as a fait accompli for them to judge, he decided that would come after. He persuaded 1,617,989 people to trust him solely on the basis of his vision. He managed this despite the combined efforts of the three main political parties organising against his coalition of the SNP, Scottish Greens and ragtag other groups. He secured emphatic Yes votes in Dundee.

Most significantly, the unwritten constitution of this country will change dramatically in the next few years. Devolution will assume a starker form and the details will be hashed out with wrangling over powers and the place of England, Wales and Northern Ireland under question again. Not since Tony Blair has one politician been more influential in constitutional change.

The turnout will probably be a transitory effect. Just like with Obama's force for change in 2008, political engagement filters away when realities resume. But the legacy of allowing votes for 16 and 17 year olds will hopefully be influential. They should definitely be allowed to vote in the general election, since arguments against such as plummeting turnouts and immaturity have been swept away.

The democratic will of Scottish people has decided that they should stay in the United Kingdom and talk of changing flags and Shetland independence can be shelved in time for a generation or two to come. Alex Salmond has resigned but he can leave knowing that whilst he has not reached the destination of independence he hoped, the journey has transformed the political landscape and created a fairer and better Scotland.
Alex Salmond Resigns, But Can Be Proud Of His Incredible Success Alex Salmond Resigns, But Can Be Proud Of His Incredible Success Reviewed by Ciaran McCormick on 17:28 Rating: 5

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