Cull the conspiracies & focus on real issues

Ballot papers waiting to be counted. Picture: John Devlin
Ballot papers waiting to be counted. Picture: John Devlin

By Allan Crow

Did you know that on the night of the referendum, ballot papers made of rice paper were used so counters could eat the Yes votes?

Nonsense? Of course it is - I just made it up.

But, give it half an hour and someone will post it as ‘‘fact’’ on social media, and the consipiracy mumbo-jumbo over the vote will spin once more.

Of course the counters didn’t eat the votes.

Actually, they dropped them into their handbags when they thought no-one was looking - not the checkers standing two feet from them, the scrutineers, their fellow counters, the police in the hall, or the photogs and TV cameras broadcasting live from the balcony right above them. Ah, but the mainstream media were in on the plot all along, they cry!

I despair of conspiracy theories. We need to stop giving them credibility and get on with the really important matters post-September 18.

And yet, two weeks on from the historic vote we’re still wading through endless videos which ‘‘prove’’ the vote was rigged.

You can consume your entire life pointing at the screen and yelling ‘‘see! see! Ah telt ye!’’ and the result will remain the same.

And yet, last weekend saw a rally of a couple of thousand folk in Edinburgh as part of a campaign which has also generated 93,000 online signatures calling for a re-vote counted by ‘‘impartial international parties.’’

It is fantastic that so many people feel so engaged that they are prepared to get up and march, but I doubt it will change a thing.

And what exactly is a re-vote? Do we do it all again - I can hear the groans of despair rolling across Scotland at the very thought - or do we uncrumple the ballot papers from assorted bins and out-trays, and start counting again?

I know one survey in the middle of the referendum excitement said 15 per cent of Scots believed M15 would send in their secret agents to rig the result, but surely the time has come to cull the conspiracy nutjobs and reaquaint ourselves with the reality that the people spoke and the majority said no.

It’s called democracy.

Our energy, our attention and all our efforts should be focused on what happens now rather than trying to replay the campaign just ended in the hope of a different outcome.

The referendum was remarkable, and we may follow its long tail for some time to come.

The turnout was astonishing, the activity at grassroots level remarkable - particularly on the Yes side which energised people in a way Better Together didn’t - and it remains a major talking point from the dinner table to the Commons.

That level of engagement could transform our politics at every level.

The next generation of politicians - from the Town House to Westminster - could come from the referendum campaign; people who didn’t just find a voice but proved to be articulate and highly capable. Regardless of your political views, we need them to stand for selection and make a real difference.

We also need the thousands who campaigned to stay involved and not simply disappear into the shadows.

And we need politicians - the current lot - to understand the lessons of the referendum, and raise their game across the board. Oh, and keep their promises ...

We also need the ‘‘45’’ to let the emotion seep away - and that’ll take time - and figure out their role.

It’s a neat hashtag on social media, but it also speaks only to - and for - one side. I’m not sure that’s what is needed post-referendum.

The 45 and the 55 need to somehow come together and find common ground as Scots once more.

There’s a wonderful, vibrant country to shape and develop and that involves all of us ... the 100.