So, the decision is taken! After a frantic final period of campaigning Scottish voters eventually declined the offer of independence and opted to stay part of the United Kingdom. In the end, the result was not as close as the polls leading up to yesterday’s ballot suggested. The Guardian has now published the final result:
But in terms of politics, this is certainly not the end. It might be the end of the beginning but nothing more. Without a doubt, this result has been a damning verdict on the whole Westminster political class, that is increasingly perceived as detached from the live of people on the ground – not just a problem in the UK by the way. The Conservatives have not had much stake in Scotland in recent decades but for the Labour Party this result should lead to some serious rethinking. The majoritarian electoral system has led to Labour designing policies for the swing voters in Middle England, taking support in the North of England and Scotland for granted. Where else would voters go?
This result has clearly shown that under the surface political support has seriously eroded and disillusionment has set in. People did not believe Ed Miliband when he said that the next Labour government, if elected, would implement the kind of policies the majority of Scottish people favour. Scots felt that they did this already and Labour did not deliver. This is a major problem for Labour!
The ‘no’ campaign, in their panicked last week of campaigning, has made comprehensive promises of power transfers to Scotland that they now have to deliver on. This constitutional reform will not just change the way Scotland is governed but will also lead to major changes for Wales, Northern Ireland and England’s regions and cities. This reform package will have to be ambitious and it is very doubtful – to say the least – that the UK government can deliver such a package in a few weeks as seems to be suggested. Constitutional issues such as the West Lothian question and the English question have not been resolved in more than a decade, so how can they now suddenly be resolved so quickly? You can watch below what David Cameron had to say about the result and constitutional reform this morning.
I personally think that keeping the UK together was the right decision. But the heavy lifting of constitutional reform now has to be managed and I am doubtful that this government – with less than 8 months to go until the general election – can manage this. Stay tuned for more!
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