WFI's Election Night In London
Women for Independence was contacted by BBC News to ask us if we could send two women to analyse the election results as they unfolded as part of the BBC's election night coverage. They were to travel to London to participate and provide comment through the night and into the next day. The women concerned were not to be members of a political party. Our National Committee member Lesley Orr and former National Committee member Kim Nicoll agreed to go along and Kim writes about her experience below.
They say it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. But my experience of the general election night in London on the 12th December was much better than that. Lesley Orr and I had been asked to represent a non- party view of the election results in Scotland but coming from an independence for Scotland position. I was on the night shift and Lesley would pick up around 6 am. I don’t think either of us thought these times were going to play to our strengths.
Travel and accommodation had been laid on by the BBC but as often the case, a delayed train and horrendous wet weather traffic saw me rush to get dried, changed and gulp down a plate of soup and back in a taxi for broadcasting house.
The concept was to show a map of the UK not geographically but by hexagons, one for each of the 650 constituencies. This was to prove a revelation as the night wore on. We waited for the exit poll and bang on 10 o’clock it was predicting a massive win for the Tories in England and a stunning win for the SNP in Scotland. I soon got talking to fellow Scot, Jason Woods as we waited to be called to give our views. We took the obligatory selfie (below) in anticipation of the declarations.
And wait we did, despite the Scottish results beginning to stream in around 1.30am we were not called up onto the map. Indeed the producers assistant told us that because of the rain the number of insets was being cut back and we may not get called and if we wanted to go back to the hotel we could. Me and Jason said that as we’d travelled all the way down we would wait. Back she came with a time slot of 4.30am.
Well by that time the map was a sea of blue with a red ribbon and Scotland was practically all yellow. We spoke about how no one could claim that this was a united kingdom, that Scotland had voted for indyref 2, for a left of centre government which wanted to stay in the EU and England had voted for the opposite. We called it a constitutional crisis. I was asked back up at around 5 am and said it was a bitter sweet moment. Great that Scotland had voted for the main party of independence but terrible that the Tories had won.
Seeing the map laid out that way graphically demonstrated that Scotland has no say in what happens in the UK. It’s England by another name.
WFI National Co-Ordinator Margaret Young had linked in me and Lesley so the three of us could feed back our thoughts. Before going to bed at 5.30am, I passed on my good wishes to Lesley and to advise her not to take no for an answer even it meant standing around for hours. She certainly made the most of her time on camera as anyone on social media will know as it has gone viral. You can watch Lesley's contribution below.
My time in London was soon up as I was getting the train to Scotland that afternoon. While the TV studio was interesting and we did our bit, what was more interesting to me was speaking with the other activists who were there. All young people from England, some Tory and some Labour and an older Welsh brexiteer. They were impressed by Nicola Sturgeon at the debates. They said they’d be sorry to see Scotland go but that they understood that we wanted to. They could see the map and not one of them said but you must stay we’re a united kingdom.
I had the same experience coming back on the train, a soldier on his way to Leuchars and a husband and wife from Newcastle now living in the Borders. They didn’t say they were for independence for Scotland but they commented on how they rated and admired Nicola Surgeon and how she had been head and shoulders above the other so called leaders. Johnston wasn’t trusted and Corbyn had no credibility.
It was a tiring but useful experience but I’m happy to hand it over to the MPs to go back down. Not to settle in but to settle up. I’m not suggesting that it’s going to be easy to get a referendum and the UK government will try to use every trick in the book but the people of England aren’t that bothered. I remember in 2014 the legions of Labour MPs and celebs saying please don’t leave. Well if my 24 hours travelling from Stirling to London and back is anything to go by then next time they might be waving us a sad farewell. Our job will be to remind them that we’ll still be friends, they just won’t be governing us.