Friday, 19 September 2014

Relieved. Tired. Proud of democracy, our United Kingdom and the efforts of so many

As a general once said: "a battle won is better than a battle lost" but it was still a close run thing, and the consequences will be significant. I have campaigned in Aberdeen, Argyll, Annan, Fife, Perthshire, Islay, Stonehaven, Banchory, Jedburgh, Hawick, and many villages and towns in between before Edinburgh the last two days of the campaign. 

Democracy prevailed in that such battles are normally fought over a gun not a ballot box. Even though there was some intimidation by the SNP, this only backfired on them, as many voted against this aggression, and comments like those of Jim Sillars, whose comments defied belief. I cannot thank enough the many who helped over the last 18 months of campaigning. They know who they are and are too many to thank. The margin of victory was larger than I expected albeit I never thought we would lose. 
In Edinburgh on The Referendum Day one journalist said how invigorating the campaign had been, and he was right. I cannot overstate how many people got involved, who had never been part of an election before. On Thursday I shared a house in Murrayfield that was given over by volunteers to be a campaign and election centre. We ate them out of house and home, as so many better together volunteers flocked to their home to help get out the vote. Likewise many came on our Borders battle bus two weeks ago. It was great to see passionate citizens expressing their views, and getting involved. Being in Trafalgar Square on Monday I saw the people caring about politics. 

The consequences of the big win is consequential for everyone; our kingdom is united once again, localism is the new issue and rightly so, and Salmond has gone already. I am clear that we cannot have greater Scottish devolution (which we will) without addressing powers and governance changes for the other countries of the UK and providing more self governance for the regions, including the North East.  It is clear that Britain is about to change significantly as the governance of the UK will 
For my part I have had little sleep for a long time, and will recover this weekend, but am back at work in Westminster on Monday, as I have a ton of a Westminster, and Home Office work, to do. I probably should not have agreed to such a packed Friday in Northumberland so my apologies, if required, to the many I saw today if I was a little overtired. This included the children and teachers of Otterburn and Hexham East First Schools, the surgeries I had in Hexham, the broadband seminar in Corbridge, the BBC in Newcastle on radio and then Mark Denton, of the BBC, who required far too many takes to film a reaction to last nights events. 
This was a very convincing win in the circumstances. My thanks to all who voted and all who helped. Britain is something – a place and an idea too – and this was something worth fighting for. The 
country will need to change now but the biggest benefit of this fight is that our United Kingdom, and the way power is exercised in this country is going to evolve. And that is a good thing.