A guest post today, looking beyond the indyref, from Shonagh McEwan, former head of research for the Green MSPs. Thanks Shonagh!

yougovScotland is nearly there. The polls are suggesting a narrow result, but in whose favour we will have to wait just a wee bit longer. After a long campaign, really long, the people of Scotland will at least waken to the result soon.  Who’s counting the sleeps? Who, in the most active quarters of the campaign, is even getting any sleep?

I’ve voted (yes, by the way). And so my attention has started to turn to the next stage in Scotland’s journey. Regardless of whether win, lose, draw, extra time or golden goal (I can’t stand penalty shoot outs, so I won’t go there), I seek assurances from our politicians over how they will handle the challenges we, the electorate, will set them on September the 18th.

Whatever the outcome, I know what I want to see.  I need positive leadership, and respect and compassion shown towards the voters.  We need to grow from the result, and move forwards, without petty or negative politics scuppering this.

So how confident am I of this happening?  Well, it seems a fairly well-supported observation, even from the most politically-neutral commentators, that there has been a positive campaign from Yes, and negative campaign from No. The pollsters say the public agree (pic above). Those choices were made, and strategies selected, by the respective campaign groups and that’s what the electorate has been deluged with. So, if the Yes campaign gets the most votes, does that mean we’ll see sour grapes? Will project fear turn into project damage? An attitude of ‘you’ve made your bed, now you’ll have to lie in it’, we’ll not be helping make it easy for you?  If the No campaign gets the most votes, will we see tired, dejected attitudes turn into resentment and blame, ‘well, if you’d only voted for independence…’?

I noticed Alex Salmond providing an open and welcome hand to Alistair Darling at the end of the last televised BBC debate.  Be part of a constructive aftermath with me, Salmond suggested. Darling’s eyebrows raised. A hint of a wry smile given. You can kind of see how tempting it would have been for Darling, after such an adversarial debate, to bring both thumbs to his temples, wave his fingers and childishly blow a raspberry back.  The more recent STV debate, after what was a very different style of debating, questioning and discussing, ended with a rather different mood.  A good question from the audience near the end of the debate asked about the ‘what next’, and panellist members Ruth Davidson and Patrick Harvie both answered constructively and positively in turn.  I want Scotland to flourish whatever the result, said Davidson, refusing to be drawn into doom and gloom. We have to accept the decision of the electorate and work for the best, was the commitment from Harvie.

That’s what we need to hear.  And I am hopeful that is, indeed, what we will get.  If there is ever a time in a country’s history that requires skillful and positive leadership, it’s in the days, weeks and months following the referendum result.  And that responsibility is not just about politicians, it’s about us all.  So many people have given their time, energy and passion to this debate whether they are voting yes or no.  These discussions have been across the dinner table, on living room couches, in the pub, the town hall, at the school gates, street stalls, twitter feeds – you name it, the referendum debate has permeated every nook and cranny of the country.

That’s partly what gives me hope, because these conversations have been overwhelmingly considered and respectful. Yet it is also why part of me is a little anxious – because virtually no-one has escaped this dynamic and changing political climate, it is of even greater importance that the next steps this country takes are taken sensitively and compassionately.  We will all be affected.

I’m also hopeful because it’s been done before. The Scottish Conservatives, for example, campaigned against devolution, but were constructive in building a new Scottish Parliament and devolution process following the yes vote. Admittedly, it was an overwhelming result, but my point is that project fear does not need to become project damage, it can become project pragmatic.  And of course Yes campaigners, need not be dejected, all is not lost. That is because the vote result in itself does not end the matter. It is another beginning.

Different political conversatons will need to emerge. A new pathway will need to be crafted either way.  This is not about breaking up relationships, but setting them on a new course.  As a country, Scotland has evolved and changed.  It’s these dynamic relationships that will continue to evolve.  And as long as we’re given the space to grow, we will not fail to meet any challenges that we are set.

This will require a new kind of politics. It’s exciting. It’s fresh. Scotland has great people, with many talents and politicians are also capable of moving us forward, whatever the result.  As a resident of this country, I want to, need to, hear nothing more than my political leaders pledge to be constructive, fair and respectful.  Decisions will have to be taken. Boldness will be required. But that doesn’t mean we lose sight of being sensitive to one another.

So come on politicians.  Get some sleep after the result. Then up your game and move this country forward compassionately and maturely.  Let’s hear you say it.