Thursday, 18 September 2014
This morning I woke to blanket fog. It's still foggy and it looks as if it could be foggy a lot in Scotland this evening.
For 20 years I was either a Depute or Returning Officer for the Western Isles of Scotland. A Returning Officer is the person with responsibility for the organisation and conduct of elections in the area. For the Referendum the Returning Officer is called The Counting Officer (just to confuse).
What is one of the worst nightmares for the Counting Officer (apart from the mathematical possibility of a dead heat)? Fog! In many parts of Scotland and particularly in the Western Isles, helicopters are used to get the votes in from outlying areas to the count. In the pre-helicopter days it could take over a day to get all the ballot boxes in using a naval vessel. Communications have improved since those days but even so a count by 7am tomorrow would be unlikely.
So today I am very thankful that is one worry I don't have.
Having said that today is The Day. The Day that Scotland's voters will decide the way they hope their country will go. It is also the day when voters will decide, to some extent, the future of the United Kingdom. The only thing anyone can guarantee is that nothing will ever be the same again for those who live in Scotland and, perhaps, for those who live in the rest of the United Kingdom.
I, and a great many others, will be thankful that at least the decision making process will be over: no more constant bombardment by television, radio and newspapers seeking to influence voters. Instead we will be bombarded for a while at least by analyses of where everything went wrong (perhaps even some analyses of who did what correctly).
What happens after that will depend on the result. Another 21 hours if the fog lifts!