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Scotland: the aftermath online

THE SOMEWHAT DIVISIVE ‘55% No – 45% Yes’ final votes  leading Scotland to reject independence this week have already been a catalyst on both sides of the debate; not least on social media.

From claims of corruption and demands of a recount, to disturbing and violent footage of rioting in Glasgow, the closely split division – and the changes arising from it – are already marked. Below, we look at some of the most striking advancements of the movements online.

1) Feelings. A lot of feelings.

Both sides took to social media to express their delight and disappointment in the results of the referendum in the hours following the announcement that Scotland would not be leaving the UK.

2) Celebrities are having their say too

One of the more defining elements in the lead up to the referendum was the influence that celebrities – rather than politicians – had across Scotland.

 

3) Corruption, Miscounts and Russia

Shortly following the first results – in Clackmannanshire –  on Friday morning, came claims of corruption. These were shortly followed by demands of a recount of the ballots as the referendum results became increasingly apparent. This stemmed from footage in that region showing ‘yes’ ballots stacked up on a table reading “no”.

Both sides – and external regulators – agreed that this video was misleading, and that the votes seen had yet to be counted.

However, the belief that the count was not conducted properly gained further ground across social media. with videos of a woman apparently confusing the “Yes” and “No” votes on ballots being circulated on Facebook and Twitter.    

Most notably to voice concerns over how the ballot counting was conducted was Russia; whose accredited observers spoke out against the size of the rooms, and other ‘badly flawed procedures’.

Though widely taken as conspiracy by both Yes and No voters, an online petition calling for a recount – in light of the rumours – has been shared online, already gaining over 70,000 signatures.      

 

4) ‘We are the 45%’    

 

In light of the final vote, ‘Yes’ voters have affiliated themselves with the percentage of their sizable minority, with many uniting under the banner “we are the 45%”. Some have adopted the percentage as a badge to wear on their social media profiles, in replacement of the “yes” and “no” icons widely used to show support for either side during the last few weeks of campaigning.  The Facebook ‘community’ has around 125,000 followers, with tweets hashtagging the phrase (#45percent) being a means of expression for many Yes voters on their disappointment and continued hopes for change within Scotland.   

5) Meanwhile, at Scottish Labour HQ… 

The Labour party  have enjoyed a stronghold of Scottish seats in the UK general elections in recent decades, and are currently the leading opposition to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scottish Government. However, the party’s affiliation and active role in the ‘Better Together’ campaign (which was backed by all three major Westminster parties – the Conservatives, The Liberal Democrats and Labour) has had an effect on some voters’ perceptions of the party, following the referendum. Gathering momentum on Twitter is the hashtag “don’t vote Labour Scotland” (#dontvotelabourscotland) in which people are expressing 140 characters of resentment towards the party in how they felt they conducted themselves throughout the campaign. 

 

6) Glasgow Riots 

Glasgow’s George Square saw stark juxtaposition in the hours before and after referendum results, between peaceful Yes rallies leading up to voting and unrest and intimidation from loyalists (though clearly not representative of the wider No vote) in the evening after results were announced.

Reports claim tensions between  pro-Union supporters and pro-Independence campaigners resulted in several arrests, following violence, vandalism and the (still not officially connected) fire in offices next to the Herald newspaper base – the only publication explicitly ‘for’ Independence in the UK.

Throughout the night, Scots took to social media to show how the riots were escalating. However, many of the photos claiming to depict the rioting in Glasgow were dismissed  (originally by the Huffington Post) as it emerged that some of the worst images were in fact from London riots three years earlier.    

Regardless, tensions in Glasgow (one of the four ‘pro-Yes’ regions following results) emerged online, with footage of disruption and police intervention across the city still being uploaded by news agencies and civilians alike. 

 Post by Councillor Austin Sheridan

These included a post from Councillor Austin Sheridan showing intimidation from loyalists, and included the use of homophobic language. Both sides have condemned the disruption on social media, claiming embarrassment and shame for what were otherwise peaceful demonstrations throughout the campaigns.

 

  7) It’s not all bad

In the short time since Scotland announced it would be staying part of the United Kingdom, there have been the beginnings of changes, divisions and conspiracies strewn throughout the internet. However, in the last few hours there have also been signs of reconciliation between the two campaigns, with many people expressing a desire to reunite both sides of the independence debate and reform “Team Scotland” (#teamscotland): standing as a nation that refuses to be divided within itself.

 

Written by Rachel Barr  Image: lizsmith  

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