KEARNY – On the day after Scotland voted 55 percent to 45 percent to stay in the United Kingdom, the reactions of those Scots and their descendants who immigrated in force to the Hudson County town of Kearny were as mixed as those in their homeland were in the days before the fateful vote.
“It looks like everybody voted with their pockets, rather than their hearts for their country,” said Alastair Stewart, the owner of Stewart’s Scottish Market on Kearny Avenue, who is a Scottish independence supporter.
Stewart accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of “fear mongering,” an allusion to establishment forces focusing on issues such as what currency Scotland would use, who would shoulder the burden of public debt and would the revenue from the North Sea oil reserves be divided, among other concerns, if secession advocates prevailed.
But Stewart, 58, of Kearny, also accused Scots who voted ‘no’ of simply being fearful.
“I’m disappointed. Seven hundred years after ‘Braveheart,’ they blow it,” Stewart said, a reference to the exploits of Scottish hero William Wallace, the subject of the famed film.
In the back of Stewart’s, Stephanie Miller, a traditional Scottish baker, stopping making meat pies to reflect on the vote.
“Most people went with the safe and secure route, but that’s not looking out for the youth or for the future ” said Miller, 25, of Kearny. “It’s just like these meat pies – there is more than one way to fill them.”
Down the block on Kearny Avenue at the Piper’s Cove, a Scottish and Irish imports store where bagpipes and kilts are readily available, another ‘yes’ for Scottish independence supporter expressed her dismay.
“My friends and cousins in Scotland, who are all on the younger side, were all voting for independence. They were devastated when it got turned down,” said Kaitlynn Austin, 22, of North Arlington. “They said the older population were scared of change.”
“I would have taken the chance and voted to go independent. Why not?” Austin added. “When you get a chance to vote for your country to be independent, you take it. A lot of people die for that right. I thought it was interesting that they had the chance to vote it in clean, and they didn’t.”
The British government told Scottish voters before Thursday’s election that more autonomy would be forthcoming if Scotland voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom and continue a more-than 300-year union.
But inside the Scots American Athletic Club on Patterson Street in Kearny, one commonly-held view was that the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom had changed, ‘no’ vote or not.
“I was glad with the result, but I think they’ll try again,” said Tom Bradley, of North Arlington, 82, a retired telephone repairman who was born in Glasgow and who supported the ‘no’ side. “It was pretty close, and the feeling that we’re getting the short end of the deal from London is still there. This will have repercussions for Wales and Northern Ireland, too. If London doesn’t come through with their promises, then maybe the next time there will be a different vote. The seed has been planted.”