Belfast Telegraph

Scottish referendum: I left Scotland saddened that a once peaceful country had been turned upside down

By Henry Reilly

As the only Northern Ireland politician to play a role in the Scottish No campaign I am very satisfied that Scotland voted to stay firmly British and in the Union.

This was despite everything being in the Yes campaign favour- such as years of recession, austerity, a Tory government in distant London and a sputtering and ineffective Better together Campaign and they still fell well short.

The thing that stood out while canvassing in Scotland was the way in which Alex Salmond and the SNP had reinvigorated a latent distrust of Westminster and turned it into a bubbling hatred of the English and the British State. It was not civic nationalism that Salmond fostered, but raw ethnic nationalism based on the false premise that the English had stolen their oil and spent it on developing the south of England while the Scots languish under the control of an English Tory government.

The SNP had managed to band together a disparate and vocal group, that included those on welfare, environmentalists, the LGBT community, fundamentalist religious sects as well as the obvious hardcore nationalists and Celtic supporters.

The No campaign was very quiet and ineffective in most aspects, but they were appealing to the average Scot, who still has a large degree of British patriotism.

The panic that Westminster displayed on the basis of one opinion poll - that indicated an eight point lead for the Yes campaign - was unnecessary, as was sending Gordon Brown up with another bag load of goodies to buy off wavering Yes voters.

It was always clear that there was a silent majority of Scots who were going to vote for the stability and security offered by the large UK State.

They just happened to be more thoughtful and reserved than the loud Yes voters, who displayed an incredible degree of intolerance towards anyone who did not share their views.

On a personal basis I left Scotland saddened that a once peaceful and constitutionally settled country had been turned upside down with neighbours, and even family members, pitched against each other.

I will always remember the warmness and affection that the loyal Scots have for Ulster and the love of country that we share with them. The Union is safe.

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