The Union is saved – but at what cost?

The Nos have it, but Britain has been left a divided country. How did our politicians get the referendum battle so wrong?

20 September 2014

9:00 AM

20 September 2014

9:00 AM

The worst has not happened; Scotland has not seceded from the United Kingdom. But David Cameron will have known some time ago that, whichever side won in the referendum, there would be no victory. This morning, the United Kingdom wakes up to one of the biggest constitutional messes in its history.

Given that the unionists had the best product to sell — Britain — it is alarming that they were supported by only 55 per cent of Scots. For months, the opinion polls had suggested far bigger support. The unionists may have won the election, but the separatists emphatically won the campaign. The Prime Minister had to turn to Gordon Brown, and seemingly give him the authority to redraft the constitution at will. He must now accept the consequences.

Ever since the YouGov poll that put Yes ahead, the British government has — one cabinet minister admits — operated by one principle: to live another day. ‘Nothing less than a modern form of Scottish home rule’ was offered, and a vow to keep the Barnett formula was made in a desperate bid to persuade the Scots to stay. Having acted in haste, the Prime Minister will have to repent at leisure — starting now.

This referendum was meant to settle the question of Scottish independence for good. But few believe it has done that. ‘We have heard the settled will of the Scottish people,’ said the Prime Minister. Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, said, ‘The people of Scotland have spoken — we have chosen unity over division.’ Both will have known this to be untrue. There is no such thing as the settled will of the Scottish people, and almost half of them chose division. As one Labour insider admits, ‘There’s no way this is over.’ But this referendum — and more specifically the scramble to win it in the last fortnight — has created another question which now threatens to dominate politics.

The English Question is unavoidable, for as soon as parliament returns, the parties will move on the timetable dictated by Gordon Brown. He promised that a motion would be moved in parliament, on the day of a ‘no’ vote, to agree extra powers for Scotland (he meant powers to the Edinburgh parliament, which is a rather different thing). They will discuss which powers to devolve, focusing on income tax, housing benefit and welfare assessments. According to Brown, there will be agreement by St Andrew’s Day (30 November), and a Bill will then be presented to parliament in the New Year and agreed by Burns Night (25 January). The Union is to be rewired at breakneck speed.

Nick Clegg is quite happy with this, and Cameron, despite private reservations, set out the timetable in his statement outside Downing Street on Friday morning. Those who have spoken to the Prime Minister say he does not envisage any significant powers passing to Holyrood before the general election in May. As for Labour, Ed Balls is understood to be seething at all of this, saying that it makes it impossible for Labour to pass a budget for England. How could Scottish MPs vote on income tax that did not affect their constituents? He has pointedly refused to endorse the Brown plan.

But the biggest problem may be backbench Tory MPs. ‘I have never known the party so angry,’ says one minister. ‘They’re seething with this “vow” and believe that Cameron has no right to sign anything away to Scotland without his party’s approval. They’re quite capable of withholding their support for the Bill, and to hell with the consequences.’

Of course, any failure to deliver ‘Scottish Home Rule’ to the Brown timetable will give the Nationalists the excuse they need to reopen the whole independence debate. Alex Salmond conceded only that Scots did not want to separate ‘at this time’. The First Minister would be delighted to be able to claim that Scots rejected independence on a false premise: that they were pledged far more powers, but perfidious Westminster did not honour this pledge. So if Cameron is reined back by his party, then the SNP will be pushing for another vote — and the result will be a ‘neverendum’, with constant constitutional instability.

Clegg is quite keen on a new settlement for England, and doesn’t mind whether that means more power to the cities (i.e. to mayors) or power at a regional level. ‘But we have to remember that England has not shown much enthusiasm for this so far,’ says one Lib Dem minister. ‘They voted down regional assemblies, and almost all of the proposals for mayors. We can’t foist a new, rushed settlement on England.’ Comparisons are being drawn with the so-called Scottish Constitutional Convention, which preceded devolution in 1999. Its meetings took six years.

The origins of this mess go back to the last century. The whole New Labour devolution settlement has been a disaster. It was intended to (as Labour then put it) ‘kill demand for independence stone dead’. And it was an obsession for Scottish Labour. The late John Smith wanted this done, and Tony Blair inherited the project. The idea was to make a separatist majority impossible. After all, in a four-party system with semi–proportional voting, was any party ever going to win an outright majority?


But rather than strengthen the Union, devolution weakened it by creating separate national conversations. National newspapers began to produce Scottish editions — they were a commercial success, but meant the people of Britain knew less and less about each other. Even Westminster insiders are uninterested in the Holyrood parliament. As one Tory cabinet member puts it: ‘I could not name more than three members of the Scottish government, which is bad. What’s worse, in fact, is that I could not care.’

When Scottish Labour held its leadership contest, Ed Miliband was asked on camera to name all the contenders. He couldn’t. His ignorance was made marginally more excusable by the lamentable quality of the candidates. That Better Together has appeared keener to use the leader of the Scottish Conservatives than the Scottish Labour party in recent weeks tells you all you need to know about the abilities of Johann Lamont and the candidates she defeated.

Devolution sent the best nationalists to Edinburgh, and the rest of Scotland’s best politicians to Westminster, hoping to govern the United Kingdom. Alex Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon faced an army of B-division politicians, and they duly made mincemeat out of them in the 2011 Holyrood elections, and have done so again in the last few weeks. Even when the big beasts returned, the Nationalists were able to suggest that they were somehow less Scottish for being at Westminster. They fed the idea that these politicians were only defending the Union so they could keep their jobs and carry on claiming their expenses.

At the last general election, Scottish Labour appeared to be as dominant as ever, with 42 per cent of the vote. Yet this disguised the extent of the rot. Safe seats made Scottish Labour lazy. They spent years winning without fighting. The party failed to recruit inspiring new leaders, in Scotland or England. Voters in Scotland who loathe the Tories and think the Labour leader is just as bad are far more likely to want separation. The greatest single problem for the Better Together campaign was the defection of Labour voters.

Perhaps the biggest reveal of the decline of Scottish Labour is how it relied on George Galloway to reach its traditional working-class supporters in the final frantic weeks of the campaign. Galloway does not sit for a Scottish seat and is not even a Labour MP, having been expelled from the party. But he was the man that the No campaign deployed with increasing frequency to make the left-wing case for the Union.

But it was Cameron, not anyone in the Labour party, who granted the referendum, and accepted Salmond’s loaded question. It was Cameron who ruled out the middle option, ‘devo max’, which he came close to offering anyway. At the time, No. 10 aides briefed that Cameron had cleverly forced the issue by forcing Salmond to hold a referendum on a single yes-or-no question. It does not seem so clever now.

One cabinet minister laments, ‘We didn’t learn the lessons of the 1975 European referendum. The question should have been “Do you want Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom?” That would have made the campaign less negative.’ The actual question — ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ — reads like something that belongs in an SNP leaflet rather than on a ballot paper. It is hard to imagine an EU referendum being fought with a question along the lines of ‘Should Britain be a self-governing country?’

Once the terms of the referendum were agreed, the coalition parties outsourced the winning of it to the Labour party — a recognition of the fact that Scottish Tories are now pitied (far worse than being hated) and that Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats are so weak that all of his mainland Scottish seats are in danger. The coalition parties’ two highly skilled, highly paid electoral campaign managers — Lynton Crosby and Ryan Coetzee — were not involved in the Scotland campaign. This divorced the political strategies of the two governing parties from the referendum. Crosby has been warning for months that the result was not going to be the foregone conclusion so many in Westminster assumed it would be.

Take, for example, the question of what currency an independent Scotland would use. Better Together’s polling had revealed that this was a crucial issue for undecided voters, so it was decided that all the Westminster parties should rule out a currency union. But to the horror of political professionals, no proper polling had been done about how this announcement should be made. So George Osborne headed to Edinburgh to set down what an independent Scotland could have. Ed Balls and Danny Alexander immediately gave their backing. Played that way, one of the ‘no’ campaign’s strongest arguments simply became more evidence for the ‘yes’ campaign’s contention that the Westminster parties were bullying Scotland.

Another problem was that the coalition could not decide whom it wanted to run the Better Together campaign. John Reid was at first regarded as the perfect choice — a Labour figure untainted by the great recession who appealed to the working-class west of Scotland voters who would determine the result. He was also a street fighter, someone who could tackle Salmond on his own terms. But he could not be persuaded, so Alistair Darling was chosen.

Darling is one of the most decent men in politics — but he is a cerebral, cautious Edinburgh lawyer: not the type who would be expected to triumph in the pub brawl that the referendum was to become. With the notable exception of the first debate, Darling struggled to expose Salmond’s fact-twisting demagoguery.

To be fair, Darling has had many crosses to bear. Tory doubts about him have regularly found their way into the newspapers at inconvenient moments. The heaviest burden that he has had to bear, though, is that of the Labour party and the Scottish Labour party. He has had to deal with a slew of negative briefings against him, including stories that he had effectively been replaced as head of the campaign. Those close to him regularly erupted at Labour’s inability to avoid this kind of self-harm.

The Better Together campaign was a cross-party affair. But what most infuriated the Tories about it was, ironically, the responsibility of the Conservative pollster Andrew Cooper. They blamed him for the lack of emphasis on Britishness. When The Spectator pointed out to a No. 10 aide that an ICM poll had found that the most common reason for voting ‘No’ was a sense of attachment to the rest of the UK, head office reacted with shock, replying: ‘But that’s not what Andrew’s polling has been saying.’ Cooper’s numbers suggested that a heavily economic case was more likely to succeed.

A mixture of Labour squeamishness and Tory uselessness ensured that the battle for Britain was never properly fought. The case for the Union was reduced to a series of dire and sometimes implausible warnings. ‘No ifs, no buts — an independent Scotland would not share the pound with the rest of the UK,’ declared Osborne. But were the redcoats really going to come north and prise the pound from Scottish purses? Of course not. As Darling later admitted, Scotland could keep using the pound if it wanted. The issue was whether it could share a central bank.

Even Gordon Brown, a ninja of attack politics, complained that Better Together was too negative. He sulked in his tent for much of the campaign, and his suggestion that David Cameron should debate Alex Salmond was positively malicious. He was passionate and effective in the last few weeks, but the last Scottish prime minister of the United Kingdom, a living rejection of the SNP’s colonial-oppression argument, spoke up too late to have the positive impact he should have done.

Even more striking is the fact that the most powerful union in Britain, Unite, sat out the contest. Len McCluskey’s public explanation for this was that his Scottish membership was split. But senior Labour figures believe that his real motivation was to show the party that Unite’s support could not be taken for granted. McCluskey wanted to make it clear that if his union could not get what it wanted from Labour, it wouldn’t pledge money or organisational assistance. Sitting out the referendum was meant to show that he was prepared to sit out other elections, too, if he didn’t feel his union’s needs were being met. This gambit nearly contributed to the break-up of the United Kingdom and with it the end of any possibility of a genuinely left-wing government at Westminster.

But the most useful idiot for the ‘yes’ campaign was the shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham. Ever since the 2010 leadership election, he has had his eye on a second tilt at the crown. He has changed from a modernising, Blairite to a rabble-rousing, left-wing populist. Since returning to the health brief, he has indulged in the most absurd hyperbole about the NHS being sold off and privatised under the evil Tories — rhetoric that the ‘yes’ campaign picked up and gleefully repackaged. Vote yes, Scottish voters were told, to save the NHS.

NHS Scotland was scarcely mentioned in Alex Salmond’s massive blueprint for an independent Scotland. He could not honestly claim that it was under any kind of threat from London. But Salmond quickly realised that he could claim whatever he liked — no matter how absurd. His opponents would be too busy contradicting each other to mount any credible defence.

The unionist campaign was designed to achieve a victory clear enough to end the independence question for a generation. Instead, it found itself taking support for separation to levels never seen, or anticipated. Scotland is now a divided country, after a debate that has split families and damaged friendships. The healing process will begin, but no one can claim the country is stronger for all of this. It would have been bad enough for the combination of Cameron, Miliband and Clegg to have had no impact in saving the Union — but in many ways they managed to make things worse. This weekend, all three party leaders have a lot to answer for.

Full analysis of the result and its aftermath is on spectator.co.uk

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Show comments
  • Pier66

    And now where are all those convinced of the yes victory?

    All the dead?

    • rtj1211

      Perhaps they were paid trolls who now have a new assignment to work on??

      • Pier66

        right, now which will be the new assignment to work on ?

        Eg who will win next election ? And they said Labour
        if lot of people vote for UKIP….

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        A new comment was posted on The Spectator

        Perhaps they were paid trolls who now have a new assignment to work on?? 5:10 a.m., Friday Sept. 19

        Reply to rtj1211

        rtj1211’s comment is in reply to Pier66:

        And now where are all those convinced of the yes victory?
        All the dead?
        Read more

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    • RolftheGanger

      Right where we always have been and will be – doing our best to return their own power, control and democracy to the people of Scotland.
      Stronger by far than when we started the referendum.

  • Gerschwin

    In the end it wasn’t even close. In the end it came down to the 3/4 million English pensioners living on Skye and in the valleys of Tomatin… as it always will?

    • Edward1

      Salmond should have allowed Scots ex-pats to vote and excluded EU students.

      • jemblue

        The ex-pats wouldn’t have voted for it, and he knew that.

  • rtj1211

    Perhaps the most obvious reason for the dodgy campaign is that almost all the things that the people of Britain hold dear are things which were not the gift of Unionist politicians but implacable demands at certain times in history from the electorate.

    Women worked the factories in World War one and the time of a universal franchise for women had come. It didn’t come through a politician offering it freely, it came after years of women throwing themselves in front of horses and the like to highlight their cause. It was not a triumph of the Union.

    The NHS was born when all those who fought and survived World War II said: ‘we are absoutely not going back to how it was before all our friends and comrades died. End of story’. The Union did not provide the people with a National Health Service out of vision, generosity or the like. It was demanded by a huge popular vote.

    If the Union wants a great story to tell, it has to have a history of acting in the best interests of its people not at the barrel of a gun, not with a sword two centimetres from its throat.

    I’ll let the great defenders of this great union explain how the attitudes of our ‘Better Together’ leaders right now to the redecoration of the aging facade is done not through sensible planning, consultation and tendering with high quality tradesmen, but a panicked call to a bunch of cowboys to give the old girl a quick new coat of paint because of fear that the neighbours will go ‘Tut tut’.

    To me that sounds more like the country pile that the Hereditary Peers haven’t kept up to scratch for 100 years. They don’t want the shame of being the Earl that sold the family pile off, but equally they’re not going to look after it particularly properly either.

    So Spectator: explain to all us citizens how what you are seeing before you are the acts of this great Union of ours, or rather a sordid preparation for a slapdash and undoubtedly dodgy paint job.

    • sulbernick

      Who cares about the Union? Its history of ‘acting in the best interests of its people’ is long gone – look at the state of the place for goodness sake.

  • Roger Hudson

    Don’t blame the Scots, it’s always been a Westminster problem. A century ago they messed up Irish home rule and look how that turned out, now they will fiddle with Scotland. One could even argue that they messed up two centuries ago when they let the United Irishmen get overtaken by the Fenians . Britain is a collection of peoples joined by the geography of an Island group, it should be organised( i hate to say ruled) by a multi-level structure with different competencies. London is now so un-English that it can run the British top layer and England have a Moot at Warwick.

  • Damaris Tighe

    The best comment I’ve heard on the ‘no’ campaign was by a Labour politician this morning: he said that Better Together made the mistake of thinking that voters were more concerned about losing £400 a year than about which nation they belong to.

    But isn’t that typical of politics the last few decades & one reason why so many voters are disillusioned? Politicians are either generalising from their own soulless materialism (claiming a few pence expenses for a jammy dodger) or grossly underestimating the appeal of (edit) ideas to the electorate.

    • Blindsideflanker

      I would agree with you about the barren message we get from the professional political class, but with the Scots continuously harping on about ‘their oil’ I am not so sure the Scots are a good example of national idealism.

      • Damaris Tighe

        The ‘yes’ supporters arguably suffered from an overdose of romantic idealism to the detriment of practicalities (with oil being dragooned into the argument as a catch-all cash cow), whilst the Labour politician’s point was that the ‘no’ campaign was an almost ideals-free zone.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Bit tired this morning! – by ‘idealism’ I really meant ‘ideas’.

  • Edward1

    I decided to help the Scottish economy this morning and bought smoked salmond.

    • Terry Field

      Not to omit a nice cutlet of Sturgeon.

    • Ridcully

      10% off at the moment apparently.

    • RolftheGanger

      Did you take care ot have it hanged, drawn and quartered?
      Or have you moved on a little in attitudes and behaviour?

      • Edward1

        I have learnt something from the nice Mr Alex Salmond and the bully boys of the Yes campaign.

  • Bobby Mac

    While many of the points made in this article may be true, it fails to explain the relatively large ‘Yes’ vote. First off, the attraction of independence lies less in considerations of economic self-interest than in an emotional or ideological desire for self-governance. Polling showed that many intended to vote ‘Yes’, even though they didn’t think they would be better off economically under independent rule. Second, the vote took place at the end of six pretty miserable years of austerity and four years of muddled government at Westminster. It is not surprising that many Scots thought they might be able to do a better job themselves. Where the ‘No’ campaign slipped up badly, however, was in allowing Salmond to get away with serious economies with the truth. It is a well-established practice in modern electioneering to have a ‘rapid-response squad’ ready to rebut instantly such lies and distortions. There’s no sign that the ‘No’ campaign employed such a group.

    • RolftheGanger

      They did not need one.
      The Union side pured out a steady stream of scare stories.
      The media helpfully suppressed all positive stories, input and rebutals from the Yes side, contriving a perception of the Yes side not having “answers”
      This was the sort of pyrrhic victory for the Union that Gorbachev and the similar but differently “on side” tame media of the Soviet Union “won” – just beofre the collapse of that Union.

      • rollo_tommasi

        What happened to 60/40 YES or was it 70/30?

        Think we can safely ignore everything else you write in future as well.

        • Casper10666

          it was 45% / 55% Yes campaign was not far behind. So ignore it at your peril.

      • Casper10666

        You are correct, the yes vote was up against the Media/reporters/newspapers/big business feat tactics…they Yes side are not finished.

    • Casper10666

      The scots would do a better job at managing themselves that what Westminster is doing the bare faced liars that they are.

  • Terence Hale

    “The Union is saved – but at what cost?” Will the scars ever mend? The behavior of many Scots in the referendum shocked many and could be a Petri dish for a Northern Ireland situation.

    • RolftheGanger

      Relax. That was a hyped up and totally false perception manufactured to meet a Union campaing agenda.

      • rollo_tommasi

        Agreed. Two thirds Yes majority.

        They are still wrong.
        They markedly understate the Yes vote.
        Just wait for the shock, surprise
        “Last minute major surge in Yes vote” poll results and headlines.

        HA HA HA HA HA

        • Casper10666

          its not the end………

      • Casper10666


    • Casper10666


  • misomiso

    Very good article.

    But its incredible – why do none of you talk about a separate unionist party? Its like watching children smash their head against a wall to cure a headache.

    The Nationalists WILL NEVER STOP. Thats what our politicos don’t understand. Every move they make is designed to split the UK. They can only be taken on by another group of street fighters, another grass routes movement.

    The Scots have always craved a separate identity within the UK. When we had a separate Unionist party they had that, and they were genuinely a party of the people rather than apologists for London.

    Toryism doesn’t work in Scotland. But Unionism does.

    If the Lib Dems and Scottish Tory’s go unchanged into the next election the SNP will have a massive breakthrough of seats. For the love of everything that is special about the UK, cut the Scottish Tories off, and let them flower as Unioinists.

    Please, please please.

    • global city

      UKIP are a healthy centre-right unionist party

    • rtj1211

      It’s called the Orange men of Glasgow Rangers, mate.

      The old sectarian divides was the Loyalists and the Catholics.

      Well, the Loyalists are pro-Union in the main. And they sure as heck know how to fight dirty……..

  • Andrew Constantine

    Imagine if tomorrow President Putin orders the Russian army into the Baltic states and Russian army soldiers knock on the door of each house and tell the family within “Either Vote for Russian rule or you will not have a home, a job, a currency or a pension”.

    The reaction of the West to the above intimidation and threats would be to say that coercion under such conditions cannot allow a free and fair vote and that the West will not recognise any results of elections held under these conditions.

    The British elites coerced the Scots into voting against their independence using under Project Fear similar threats as posited above to the Russian army to the citizens of the Baltic states.

    The British Union seems to me to be of the nature of a stinking and corrupted decomposing corpse. It needs burying soon.

    • Witch King of Angmar

      “The British elites coerced the Scots into voting against their independence”

      …what a complete and utter load of tosh. Not even a good effort.

      • Man on the Clapham Omnibus

        Absolutely true, but very mild – AC’s assertion is complete bullshit! I can understand that the brave-hearts did not like economic reality but someone had to counter Salmond’s lies.

        • Witch King of Angmar

          You can’t please some people. Even in a fair, organised referendum on a frankly HUGE issue that was exemplary to the world, in terms of democracy- people will still find ways to chat sensationalist, frivolous drivel.

        • RolftheGanger

          Except the counters were a tissue of lies and the “lies” were perfectly fair and arguable scenarios – if not facing an opposition determined to be utterly obstructionist regardless of the truth and a media utterly determined to distort and misrepresent the self government case.

      • RolftheGanger

        It was mass political elite plus media, finance, business and others coercion – but coercion it was.

    • rtj1211

  • Terry Field

    To quote the Great Queen

    ‘ This is the End of Labour in England.
    And it is wondrous in our eyes’

    • ohforheavensake

      And no.

      • Terry Field

        oh yes, little leftie boy, oh yes.
        Balls knows this. he is angry.

        • Livia

          Labour are still New Labour, and New Labour are not at all leftist, chap, unless you think that Mrs Thatcher – who claimed New Labour as her greatest legacy – somehow became a lefty. The Left in England have no one to support, because Westminster is dominated by neo-liberal corporate puppets. Why do you think Blair is toxic in Scotland? Here’s a hint: same reason the Tories are toxic up there. Even the Lib Dems, curse their traitorous hearts, have shown themselves to be true blue Tory rottweilers since selling their souls for power. Basically you live in your own utopia and complain it isn’t utopian enough. Poor show, lad.

          • Terry Field

            Oh funny. You are a delusional fantasist. New Labour was a marketing front for radical left wing action, as now evidenced by the massive debt pile, the massive deficit after de-industrialisation and the purchase of millions of compliant voters, the rape of the settled indigenous population with immigration designed to give a pool of permanently poor failed Labour voters and a quite insane increase in the civil service, who would vote for the ‘Labour’ party to a man.
            One could write all day about the deleterious effect of that morally rotten misgovernment.
            AS for Margaret, when she said that, she had suffered a series of mini-trokes, and the great lady was not herself. BUT the move from the truly Soviet clause 4 crap was in response to her introduction of a touch of reality.
            You cannot cope with a debt of 1.2 trillion that is the direct creation of the socialist corporate state, on both sides of the Atlantic.
            You must know the socialist subsidy vote purchase machine is finished.
            As for the State, it is, in effect without net assets.
            It is a busted socialist flush.
            Your stupid marketing names mean nothing. One nation toryism is just as corruptly responsible for the collapse of financial sense as ever was the putrid Labour party.
            You are a busted flush old girlie. And the Union will fail when the next round of subsidy welfare cuts hit Scotland and Welshieland – whoever is in Downing Street.
            But now there is a chink of Light…… the West lothian Q will HAVE to be addressed.
            Even Diane Abbot put the boot into Billimand this afternoon
            It’s over old cocker, over.
            The current government has taken a little bit away from the lazy, the ignorant, the workshy, the degenerate and the state-subsidised to encourage them to try a touch of work.
            MUCH more needs to be done.
            Much more.
            And it will be, because, as that Labour treasury prat said:
            “There is no more money”
            Toxic in Scotland????
            Anyone who cuts their subsidy payments that restricts their capacity to throw another marsbar on the barbie or in the deepfat fryer.
            And that will be EVERYONE from now one, won’t it!!!
            Including the Salmond, the Sturgeion and all the other fishy characters, including Brown (I saved the World) the Hard Man from Kapercailley (or wherever the hell he roosts)

    • RolftheGanger

      It is definitely the onset of the end of Labour in Scotland.
      They now face:
      A set of internal splits.
      A formal division between the pro and anti-self government sides.
      The reality that Glasgow, N Lanarkshire and other former “heartland” areas voted Yes and on the strength of the support of the the citizens that Labour once saw as its base.
      A new challenger in the form of Radicals For Independence, rapidly evolving to be the Radical Party succesor and heir to that voter base.
      The detestation of a very large slice of the electorate,
      40% of their own members, activists and voter base voted Yes. A big shift from just a year or two ago.
      An emerging civil war power battle between therr Westminster reactionaries and their MSP/Council wings.

  • Peter Arnott

    Terrific piece of writing. But given the demographics…it was only the old who saved the Union…and the fact that Labour and the Tories are already fighting over the patch up job, and that the Tories seem to me certain now to ride this win into the election in 2015, and that a Euro exit is then on the cards…while Fraser is right that the transformation will continue, I think it will be very. very hard to control. We might be in for constitutional crisis even without a Yes vote…fore five years…at the end of which…?

    • ohforheavensake

      We’ve been in a constitutional crisis for the past 30-odd years: we Scots know this, but the rest of the country’s just woken up to it.

      • Peter Arnott

        Indeed we have…but have lacked the arithmetical weight to share that crisis with the rest of Ukania (as Tom Nairn calls it). Now the crisis is going to be shared…as it had to be…before real change took place. Can’t pretend I’m not tired and disappointed..but interesting times ahead, and the Yes campaign built a machine for participatory democracy the like of which this country has never seen. So…could be worse. Like it was in 1979…still bear the scars of that…this doesn’t feel anything LIKE as bad. Why? Because the genie isn’t going back in the bottle. And ALL movement is in only one direction.

        • RolftheGanger

          Spot on.
          My reaction is to be energised at the evolutionary options opening up.
          and the beartrap possibilities that could open up and speedily terminate the Union.
          “Boris for PM” springs to mind!

  • Witch King of Angmar

    You can blame Westminster as much as you like, and you can blame the No campaign too, but the fact remains that Salmond- despite being a very charismatic leader- led a campaign for independence that had menacingly weak foundations.

    He was insincere to the Scottish people. He obfuscated and lied about potential currency use, EU membership, NATO obligations, the NHS, small business in Scotland, schools, university fees and just about everything else of import. As a
    proud Englishman who loves Scotland, the Scots deserved (and deserve)
    better than this snake-oil salesman when and if they do eventually get indepedence. Equally, I’m happy (overjoyed in fact) if they stay indefintely. Salmond deliberately lied to fulfill his badly thought-out personal goal, which could have had catastrophic economic consequences.

    He has not succeeded. Rather, he has created division between Scots; both amongst themselves, and between them and the English. What were cracks in the social and political ties between UK countries have now become fissures.

    One thing, however, is clear. Change is desperately needed on all political fronts. The status quo cannot be maintained. You could argue the entirety of the infrastructure of the Union needs to be re-examined in the light of this Referendum. The Union has successfully been resuscitated, but is still in need of critical attention.

    • Alf Alpha

      I agree with you about the divisive aspect of this campaign and the use of “hopes” as “facts” but the problem is that many of the things Mr Salmond didn’t have answers to do in fact have answers. What is worse, some of them are quite easy to answer, even if he couldn’t. The big issue is that he lost votes with the middle aged voter who knows a thing or two because he didn’t do his homework properly, and he must be kicking himself as a result.
      Be prepared for another referendum challenge in 5 years if we do not pull out all the stops integrating the UK. By then, the SNP will have been through Devo Max, and understood much more about economics and be much more credible with things like currency, the EU etc. We won’t solve this by looking at the structure of the Union though, but only by engaging much much more with the people who live in it.

      • Witch King of Angmar

        Your second paragraph presumes (albeit you are likely correct) that the SNP will remain in power in Scotland for the foreseeable future. Don’t get me wrong, with Millipede at the helm Labour are going nowhere north of the wall (nor anywhere else) but a different leader with fresh, regressive, classic Labour left ideas (and ideals) could seriously challenge them and perhaps defeat them.

        Frankly, it is a given that people need more engagement, just ask northerners from England. I disagree that the structure of the Union does not need examining however- it can no longer be a case of one size fits all, or one glove size is bigger than the other. To me, a Scottish parliament and English parliament working in tandem with Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies over big issues including budgets, wars, immigration, energy, etc. seems the best solution for all. Easier said than done, admittedly, and I don’t have the technical insight to explain my theory further (sadly).

        However you affect the angle of the prism, there is simply no scenario where the SNP can seriously claim that Westminster (and the City of London) does not benefit the UK economy, and therefore Scotland.

        • global city

          Probably the one vital thing that would kill off the SNP would be to move the nuclear fleet. Defence would then become solely a matter of breaking their links with the British Army alone, which polls show the vast majority of Scots oppose.

          • Casper10666

            You have no where to keep the Nuks,

        • samhol

          I too feel that the system in place at the moment deprives the English regions of real power and responsibility.

          Additionally, with an English MPs for English matters arrangement, even if Millipede gains a UK Parliament majority, many of his Left-wing prescriptions for our economy could be voted down.

        • Casper10666

          Labour are going to be wiped out at the next election……watch what Scotland does to them……Remember the Torys…

      • Dusty01

        Maybe in fifty years not five!

      • global city

        UKIP should be on the ground now in Scotland demolishing the false premise the Scots have been sold, regarding the EU and the ‘protections’ it would give an independent Scotland.

        The fact that they know noting about the democracy sapping intent of the EU was clear about all the talk of the freedoms to do this or that, things that are actually NOW in the ‘competence’ of the EU.

        This particular deception needs to be killed stone dead…. or we may find ourselves losing any future referendum vote and find ourselves locked inside the EU for ever.

        • Casper10666

          SNP is now the third biggest party in the country..so ukip don’t stand a chance

      • BoiledCabbage

        Only if the SNP can devise better ways of rigging the vote will they be back in 5 years. Thats possible, so Westminster must refuse all dialogue. This is a victory for the Crown, not a negotiating position.

        • Ken

          Nothing to do with the Crown. From 1603 to 1707 England and Scotland shared monarchs – they could do so again, though the Hanoverian origins of the present lot may not appeal to all.

        • Casper10666

          It wont be 5 years, and SNP has just been recognised as the 3rd biggest party in UK. They are getting thousands joining them.

      • Casper10666

        Like the list of promises which we don’t know and it was given in panic and over 700,000 postal voters had all ready voted. Scotland is going for independence. We have a right to spend our salary in our country

    • davidofkent

      It speaks volumes for the Scots that 45% of their voters followed Salmond down the yellow brick road to nowhere and voted YES. To be taken in so easily is almost shocking.

      • berosos_bubos

        Self determination can hardly be called a road to nowhere.

        • sulbernick

          Agreed. Independence is about more that ‘the economy’. Austerity is a small price to pay for freedom.

      • Gwangi

        Yes indeed. But a lot were thick poor voters on council estates with nothing to lose. They’ll never vote again.

        • Casper10666

          You are very rude calling people thick. your the one peddling rubbish……..

      • Richard

        Remember that the poorer the area, the greater the YES. SNP gave them hope of more welfare money, that’s all, rather like a more intense version of Labour. No more, no less.

      • Casper10666

        we were not taking in, we saw the lies and deceit and the bias. Funny how no one else seems to have. it was a fear vote for No’s. Watch how Westminster crap all over their vow now.

    • Ringstone

      Indeed we should give thanks for Salmond and his “cakes and medals all round” pitch, which many quite rightly saw as absurd. Had he had a more honestly laid out and coherent plan, that “freedom” came with a price tag but could be done, then it looks like he might have swung it.
      In the end the politicians on both sides have shown again what a bunch of odd balls, chancers and overpromoted amateurs we’re stuck with.

    • Gwangi

      Agreed. Salmond is a slimeball liar who played on the natural bigotry, racism, envy and hatred of the poor, uneducated failures who had nothing to lose. Fascist parties do the same.
      For example, the NHS is ALREADY controlled by the Scots Parliament yet Salmond claimed the English were running it down and the Scots (how thick as porridge they are these days, how brainwashed by nationalist teachers in their SNP madrassa schools) believed him!
      Charismatic? Salmond? I have no idea why people always say that. He is a slimy slippery professional politician, and I can see through him like a piece of glass. He also has the most awful taste in music of ANY politician – ever – as his choice of only Scots Nats dirges on Desert Island Discs showed.

      Salmond reminds me of that drunk and dodgy Scottish uncle who comes round on Christmas Day every year but who you’d never EVER leave alone with your children, your drinks cabinet or your wallet!

      • Casper10666

        You are the most rude and ignorant person. Alex Salmond had more integrity and leadership qualities than the whole of Westminster put together.

        • country_exile

          Salmond – integrity? He’s a professional politician, a snake-oil salesman. A very good one but that’s all he is. I’ve met him on a number of occasions and I concur with Gwangi’s comment.
          I know this is contentious but there are actually some very good MPs in Westminster with a lot of real life experience although few of them I grant you are in positions of influence.

    • David Scott

      As a Scot, agreed … if not a bit harsh.

      • Tom M

        As a Scot agreed and spot on.

    • Casper10666

      We were using the pound, EU was being debated with in, 47. NHS is being under threat from US and Camerons agreement which will bring in privatisation in the back door. University Fees were covered. Scotland would be fine, thanks for your concern. But its not over, its in the pipe line. Alex Salmon changed politics and brought youngsters into the fold. If you believe your English masters are better, try reading how Westminster stole Scotland Future and hang your head in shame, proud Englishman.

  • ohforheavensake

    “Given that the unionists had the best product to sell — Britain…”

    You see that, Fraser: that’s your problem- right there. The only way you can imagine identity is as part of a market transaction: and on both sides, Scottish voters don’t think of themselves as consumers of a national product.

    If you don’t grasp that, you’re in very, very deep trouble.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Spot on. That’s the problem with contemporary politics – ideas & policies are ‘products’, Britain is a plc whose people are replacable units of labour, & voters are consumers whose preferences can be detected by focus groups.

      When communism went belly-up the result was the transformation of every social good & social interaction into a pastiche managerialism. It’s also infected our police ‘service’ & the NHS.

      • ohforheavensake

        And that was an important lever for the Yes campaign.

    • stag

      It was a metaphor, ofhs…

      • Damaris Tighe

        The choice of metaphor tells you a lot about the user’s mindset & values.

        • stag

          Not sure it does. But there you go.

    • Someone

      ohforheavensake –

      While there is a kernel of truth in what you are saying (identity is very much personal and not for trade), the fact is that while the Yes campaign ran a movement which traded on identity and the idea of Scottish national empowerment, not one person on the No campaign ran a similar movement which was built on British identity.

      Salmond and the SNP in particular are all about symbolism and the importance of identity politics. For every memorial of Bannockburn, there is a D-Day. For every time the Saltire was flown in battle, there was a Union Jack. For every Longshanks, there was a Napoleon, a Hitler, a Stalin.

      Campaigns are about persuading through reason and motivating through emotion. The way the No campaign ran was exclusively on a cold almost clinical basis. In the heat of a battle, you have to bring your own fire. The No campaign failed with that and produced some pretty poor marketing material.

      In fact their party election broadcast (you know the one with the woman sitting undecided at the breakfast table?) should have been an opportunity to rally people to the union flag. It should have looked like a show-reel of accomplishments made together with an emphasis on the role of Scotsmen and women.

      • sulbernick

        And yet they were still victorious.

        • Someone

          It should’ve been much easier than it was.

  • Dusty01

    This is a victory!
    Even if you don’t want to recognise it, democracy was the victor.

    If The British state wants to endure for another three centuries the British people have got to wake up and change the way we do democracy or the country will be back here again and again and again.

    Democracy wone the day.

    • Gerschwin

      Did you read the question properly?

  • John Carins

    On both sides most voters voted for personal selfish reasons. Many on the “yes” side voted out of spite and not because they wanted independence. They were simply using the referendum as a means of furthering some other cause. What has been evident is how we have allowed the importance of the Union to deteriorate in the minds of everyone. The Union needs to be reinvigorated and those who denigrate it should be challenged and their arguments destroyed. I watched in horror as Niall Ferguson’s (pro-Union Scottish historian) view was undermined by Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott on a pre referendum chat show hosted by Andrew Neil. It was a gift to the “yes” campaign. An example perhaps but come on let’s get our act together and defend the Union!.

    • RolftheGanger

      Sorry old bean but that is hot air.
      Self government is a means to the end of a better and more prosperous country, not just a n aim in intself for reasons of democracy.

  • Sean L

    You say that a few months ago there was a large Unionist majority, which dwindled on account of a poor Unionist campaign. Since people are that fickle why shouldn’t yesterday’s figure’s be any more or less transient, that’s to say other than a reflection of *yesterday’s* opinion?

    Which only shows how wrong in priniciple is such a plebiscite: the notion that a nation, centuries of custom and government, can be relinquished merely at the whim of its current population. The only circumstances in which such a thing should even be contempated is to avert the threat of civil war. The Union didn’t come into being by a vote, and it shouldn’t end by one either. All this vote has done is to empower the mob.

    • Gerschwin

      I agree but let’s face it the Union came into being largely by the whim of a bankrupt Scots nobility so one can hardly complain about the referendum.

  • Graeme S

    How bad does it get when only Labour Scots where the front men of the No campaign , these guys are frauds , bankrupt of credibility and have sold the English and welsh down the river… what an insular, bigoted , short sighted place Scotland must be

    • AtMyDeskToday

      “what an insular, bigoted , short sighted place Scotland must be”

      I find the Speccy and DT blogs a fascinating read. Posters who don’t live in Scotland, have no knowledge of the country and no knowledge or experience of the SNP government nevertheless imagine themselves immensely equipped to comment on every related matter. Although I’m relieved that they’re at least here toiling over how to use the English language in an intelligent way rather than out on the streets, where they would be really dangerous.

  • taytelbaum

    Johann Lamont, mG, I thought was Nicola Sturgeon D First M!

  • goggyturk

    “Scotland is now a divided country, after a debate that has split families and damaged friendships.”

    Thanks a lot for telling us how we all feel about it.

    I see no evidence of this among my associates, some of whom were passionate advocates on either side. Strong words and views were exchanged, but we tend to have thick enough skins up here to deal with that.

    The leader in yesterday’s FT, normally such a staid publication, had some bullshit story about civil servants in Aberdeen weeping and people in Tillydrone(!) not being able to sleep for stress. Needless to say, we all had a good laugh at that.

    The real story (which will never be acknowledged here) is the political reawakening of a nation. I’ve seen and been involved in discussions in offices, on trains, at dinner tables about issues ranging from currency to identity. Surely a re-engaged electorate is a good thing? Maybe not for some.

    • Gerschwin

      Yeah, that was the referendum alright… do you think Scotland should have a political reawakening?

    • Sean L

      I can’t fathom how any reasonable person could think political activism a good thing in itself. At best it’s a necessary evil, to thwart the mob who threaten to bring everyone down with it. Otherwise if people looked after themselves and their loved ones everyone’d be better off. For the most part political activism, particularly in the form of identity politics/racism is a means of evading personal responsibility, of submerging one’s self in the crowd. That’s the appeal of it and why it relies so much on demagoguery.

      • Damaris Tighe

        It’s also a way of substituting cold, abstract ‘compassion’ & ‘caring’ for the real thing.

  • hdb

    Fair analysis but the English of this piece leaves a lot to be desired: “his suggestion that David Cameron should debate Alex Salmond”! So Cameron is going to have a debate in which Alex Salmond is the topic? Or did the author mean, in British English, debate WITH? Can we please have this phrasal verb used corrected on the Spectator? It is one thing to see these Americanism creeping in on sites like the Guardian which are overrun with American feminist contibutors but to see them in Britain’s oldest serial magazine is really a bit much.

    • Damaris Tighe

      My pet hate is ‘ouster’ instead of ‘ousted’. I’ve seen it used on Breitbart London.

    • little islander

      they’d been up all night. but then again…. i read only a few paras, and as i scrolled down……. should i go back and see which para it is this debate about mr salmond is in? i like reading online. there’s so much more of it. verbal diarrhoea (english spelling, i just checked) cannot compare. i need a rest. i think i will read print after this subscription ends.

      • davidofkent

        Your shift key isn’t working!

        • little islander

          and the crutch and…..if i were a car, i would have to be scrapped because there’s no way i could be shipped to pakistan for profit.

        • Scaramouche

          I have that trouble too.. I believe there is no god, to call himself (G)god.

  • David Cameron

    Just watch out for the “comeback kid”….Gordon Brown.

  • English Majority

    On Daily Politics:

    I’ve just seen Dianne Abott SNEERINGLY state that its “Ludicrous to suggest England should get its own parliament and representation. It shouldn’t happen”.

    Labour are viscerally opposing England getting powers because they know it will destroy their power here.

    This is going to end VERY badly if we English don’t get our dignity, our represention and our own parliament.

    • global city

      Some savvy party could exploit that cynicism, based on the assumption that what Labour have in England they own. Will UKIP add this gross assumption to the (ever growing and easily compiled) list of how labour have betrayed the constituencies that vote for them in England.

      “They assume that you are all so stupid that you will always vote for them regardless of the abuse and neglect, so they only concern themselves with buying their Scottish base at your expense”

      Something like that could get the ball rolling!

      • English Majority

        If UKIP and Farage don’t aggressively grab this with both hands, then they’re not only useless, but thick as well.

        This is UKIP’s golden, unique opportunity.

        • Mike

          I believe Farage is playing a very careful game and having weathered all the attacks on Ukip by the establishment and MSM, he’ll make sound factual comments at appropriate times whilst letting LibLabCon dig their own pit. He refuses to get drawn into a slanging match and that will bring in the votes he needs.

    • rtj1211

      The answer to Diane Abbott is to say that ‘it’s pretty ludicruous for any sentient English man or woman to vote for you after that statement, isn’t it?’

      • English Majority


      • Gregory Mason

        I imagine they don’t, most English have left London.

      • Scaramouche

        Absolutely RTJ

    • cdnspectator

      Viewing this from Canada, my feeling has been that devolution to the regions would be the best solution.

      Doing so would avoid the population imbalance that the national division of the UK entails. It would replicate a model that is used in may other countries with success. It would put the future focus of regional governments on regional political culture rather than national/ethnic culture, something the SNP claims to support. It may even weaken the forces of nationalism in Northern Ireland as well.

      And, importantly, it would create a constitutional negotiation that puts Scottish interests alongside the interests of dozens of regions across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This seems like a more constructive premise than a Holyrood versus Westminster negotiation.

      • evad666

        Devolution to the regions is the trap Brussels wishes us to fall into and will maintain the current class based politics which has so impoverished all those outside London..

      • Gwangi

        But people here do NOT want regional governments or to give local council jobsworths and bureaucrats more powers. Politicians want this, just like ice cream manufacturers want people to eat more ice cream! Northern English cities voted NOT to have mayors a couple of years ago.

        Quebec is FAR more different from the rest of Canada than Scotland is from England (most Scots culture was invented in the last 200 or so years too – by Walter Scott and the English romantics).

        Scotland is 10% of the British population – it is over-represented at Westminster AND on the BBC and in British politics. I really don’t think many English voters would vote for a Scottish MP now. There will be no more Scots Prime Minister of Britain. Scottish politicians should leave and go home to Hollyrood where they now belong.
        The Barnett formula MUST be reformed – Scotland gets way too much money. Wales is poorer but gets £500 per person less per year than Scotland. England gets less and northern England suffers.
        JUSTICE AND FREEDOM means this, not drunken tartan twerps dribbling into their own vomit-flavoured deep-fired pizzas in a Glasgow gutter…

        • MikeF

          Quite – the idea of a lot of little regional assemblies in England is a recipe for utter mayhem. All that is necessary is to ensure that Scottish MPs cannot vote in the House of Commons on any measures applying to England and Wales where on identical issues the Scottish parliament has a monoply of power in Scotland. Labour’s only concern in this issue is its own sectarian interest in trying to preserve a Scottish Labour bloc vote at Westminster. If a ‘devo-max’ solution is offered to Scotland without the removal from Scottish MPs at Westminster of their ability to vote on reelvant issues there will be trouble – real trouble.

        • John Wilson

          if this is what englishmen think, then the union really is doomed.

        • Casper10666

          Might be even better if you had any idea what you were talking about. Scotland has supported England for the last 33 years Educated yourself before you dribble this rubbish, Hint try reading the McCrone Report 1975, before you make a right fool of yourself.

      • Tom M

        I might well agree with the principle cdn but as the main article states the inhabitants of Holyrood are indeed “B” class politicians and these would be the people running a devolved Scotland with the predictable results.
        I firmly believe that, as in Scotland, the calibre of people needed to run anything approaching a country have not existed anywhere in the British Isles for many years.

    • Gwangi

      OR just made Scots and Welsh MPs leave the chamber of the House of Commons – maybe have ENGLISH DAYS there when English issues are debated. If these Scots MPs had any honour they would have left previously on English-issue votes. They didn’t. That says a lot about them and the lie-drenched dungheap that is modern Scotland.

      • English Majority


      • Jefran

        As far as I am aware the SNP members do abstain from voting on purely English issues.

    • Richard

      Dianne Abott could make her policy one of putting turds on plates and she would win the ethnic vote and be seen as “cool” by the British voters.

  • Livia

    “Given that the unionists had the best product to sell — Britain — it is alarming that they were supported by only 55 per cent of Scots.”

    And yet all the Tory commentators today are saying it’s all over now for a generation. It’s over until 51% want independence, surely? Democracy and all that.

    • Sean L

      That’s senseless: at any point in time *any* population may ‘want’ any manner of things. According to this article a few months ago there was an overwhelming majority for the Union. To promise a repeat of the process would serve no purpose than to foment conflict, when all most people truly desire is the maintenance of civil life, an end to the rabble rousing.

    • cambridgeelephant

      This will resurface, without a doubt. It will require an awful lot of careful handling for it to be otherwise.

      Given the characters involved, I won’t bet on happy outcome.

  • NBeale

    A spectacularly wrong-headed article. It’s clear that in fact Cameron has:
    a. Killed Scottish Independence for at least 15 years – probably forever.
    b. Stopped Scottish MPs from voting on English matters, which will make it almost impossible to have a Labour Government.
    c. Further enhanced his leadership credentials and diminshed Ed M’s.

    It’s worth remembering that ITRW, as opposed to in Speccie-land, Cameron is the most liked Party Leader by a long way and over 55% of the electorate already think he has what it takes to be PM. (see the IPSOS-Mori Poll).

    • Mike

      He’s done nothing of the sort as all we’ve had is weasel words just like on the EU referendum ! The only political figure to speak the truth was Nigel Farage.

    • cambridgeelephant

      Well thanks Samantha but I fear the following should be pointed out.

      Salmond ran rings round your boy from the outset.

      Salmond :-

      1/ Set the Question
      2/ Set the date and the timetable
      3/ Set the electorate by inviting 16 and 17 year old urchins even if they came from California – as one did – to have a vote. And exclude native Scots south of the border.
      4/ Played the insurgent outsider to a tee and left Cameron, Clegg and Milliband trailing in his wake.

      Only at the last minute, did Cameron panic and dispatched Brown – of all people – to shore up the’ Better Together’ side.

      Cameron’s mishandling of this whole business, his loathsome compliance with Salmond’s demands, his witless complacency his abject behaviour in the last few days, his ludicrous ‘guarantee’ to augment the Barnet formula and a host of other things on this matter, have left him viewed as even more damaged goods than before.

      • Jackthesmilingblack


        • http://www.ukip.org/ Too Old To Join UKIP

          Tourette’s or what?!

  • john

    The winning NO vote is a real statement of national cowardice
    Imagine, Scotland could have achieved independence but instead has slunk back under the covers of Westminister. What an anticlimax. Braveheart has emigrated.

    • Gerschwin

      You sure he ever existed in the first place?

      • john

        Yes, I saw the film.

  • Jim

    The cost will be that the left is now going to attempt to divide the English with regional ‘devolution’.

    • English Majority

      The Muslims will too.

      They’ll get control of Birmingham, Bradford, vast swathes of London and many other areas.

      Radical change is needed, but as always, the vast, unwanted immigrant population in England is parasitically making it harder, and using it for their own ends.

      • Mike

        Hello Sharia law, stonings and beheadings with self rule !

  • bravo22c

    Nick Clegg and his liberal whatnots pledge to remain firmly in the last century – championing a settlement for England which has already been firmly rejected by the electorate. And he calls someone else catch-up Charlie.

    • bravo22c

      PS. ‘…the English haven’t shown much interest in this so far…’ What the Lib whatnot should have said is that the English haven’t shown any interest in the self-serving ‘solutions’ the denizens of the Westminster bubble have offered so far.

  • global city

    The most telling issue that exposes that there is some truly sinister undercurrents in the Scottish political scene was the way that the hard Left were all for the split. Supposed internationalists they ignored that in order to attempt to peel away one more layer that provides the bulwark against their plans.

    I believe that a YES vote would have seen some nasty developments, typical of what used to happen behind the iron curtain, or in the worst of the 3rd world in the 1970s’.

    What made me sick was the No campaign was constantly bedevilled by party calculations….even this morning this was continuing, with each party trying to hurt the other two, instead of acting now as honest broker for the people and the Union.

    • RolftheGanger

      Sorry but it has been a long time since any of the UK major parties was an honest broker for the people or the Union.

  • mandelson

    Someone needs to tell the Yessies that Christopher Lambert and Mel Gibson are not really Scottish Highlanders.

    • RolftheGanger

      How terribly original and clever.

      • mandelson


  • Farquharson

    The UK government’s habit of avoiding taking difficult decisions by throwing bones at issues in the hope they’ll go away has had all sorts of negative consequences for the main parties. In their own interests, they should think about what leadership is and then, you know, do that.

  • Bobby Mac

    There will not be another referendum in 5, 10 or 15 years. The UK public would not agree to it, even if the Nats claimed a mandate for one. You can’t keep on asking for something as expensive and fundamental as a referendum every five years just because you lost the last one. Moreover, I doubt if there will ever be another referendum run on these rules: the rest of the UK will insist on having a vote and/or a supermajority will be required for independence. The real challenge for the next 20 years is to secure better government throughout the UK and policies that will bring economic and social justice to all.

    • RolftheGanger

      The people of Scotland are sovereign.
      You can try obstructing democracy as you suggest, but it will not work.

  • mixodorians

    Another Tory blaming Blair and John Smith for devolution..and completely ignoring Thatchers part.
    Without rabbid Thatcherism there would have been no devolution.
    There would be no need for it.
    Definitely not in Wales, most likely not in Scotland either.
    It is what happens when England runs divisive policies that benefits a tiny minority in the SE..and ignores their terrible impact on much of the nation.

    Devolution was created to keep the Union together.

    Nationalism would have been out of control were it not for Labour steadying the ship with devolution.

    • global city

      Without central command and control (in Whitehall) then Scotland’s strategic and commercial clout would not have been bled away to the centre, nor would it’s industries have been set in aspic…circa 1950s’ half way to the Soviet Union!

      Also, The EU closed the coal mines and steel plants, and shut the city’s docks. You need to check out the quota conditions of the ECSC and the consequences of ‘Europort’. We joined a group that made the same things as us where the market had already been divvied up.

    • cambridgeelephant

      Rubbbish ! The original devolution proposals were put forward by the Callaghan government and fell because not enough Scottish Labour MPs were prepared to swallow the West Lothian question.

      Whether that was right at the times a moot point. But it had nothing to do with ‘Thatcher’. You’ll have to find another outlet for your phobia.

    • somewhereinthesouth

      Labour has been promoting devolution for decades.

      As for the deindustrialisation of Scotland The SNP seems to have not noticed that Essen in Germany these days is a rust belt , Detroit and Tenessee in the US is a rust belt and that coal mines have been shutting everywhere in Europe because of global warming policy – encouraged by the left and of course the EU. Yes some loss making heavy industry closed under Thatcher, but it would have closed anyway as indeed heavy industry closed all over the western world. At the same time coal mining switched to cheaper Poland , ship building to Japan and Korera and other work moved to to banglasdesh india and China . [ This strongly suggests that the loss of industry in Scotland and elsewhere was more to do with globalisation than Thatcher’s “evil” policies , which actually succeeded in encouraging a higher rate of growth to the UK including Scotland ]. And of course Blair wasn’t exacty blameless in allowing our manufacturing jobs to go to China during the 13 years of the Brown “boom`” . Not only did this decimate our manufacturing base it also , together with uncontrolled immigration, depressed UK wages .

  • BoiledCabbage

    The greatest victory for the English crown since Culloden.

    Do not over-emphasise YES support, mostly it was Glasgow where [rigged?] they has a majority. Many places had a 60% NO.

    The SNP leadership are toast – when their constituents sober up and analyse their half-baked plans for ‘independance’ without a Central Bank or a currency. The whole thing reeks of a Maoist coup.

    Now England will collect their winnings. English taxes for English regions – thats just the start.

    • mixodorians

      It was a straight voter count. It wasn’t any of that first past the post nonsense. I realise the victors get to rewrite history but you are taking it all a bit too far don’t you think?

    • fitz fitzgerald

      Those “”postal”” votes! 800,000! Let’s run a check for fraud, lads.

  • extoryagent2

    The vote in Scottish Borders, where separation would have been most keenly felt, was 2 to 1 against. Never let it be forgotten again – the very people a Yes vote would hurt most are Scots.

    • mixodorians

      Yeah..well enjoy your food banks and your bedroom tax and waiting 14 months to get sickness benefits.

      • global city

        better than starvation and the gulags!


    • global city

      Glasgow voting YES was strange too, given that all the power and institutions in that city would be sucked across to Edinburgh. Its port and commercial infrastructure that made it significant in the world was also killed when the UK joined the EU and Scotland became placed ‘on the wrong side of the country’

      • fitz fitzgerald

        No, no : its a leftist wasps nest and only awaits a bigger immigrant influx – planned – before it ignites : Hobsbawm’s dream…

      • doesntmatter20

        No, it wasn’t at all strange. They wanted an independent Scotland and couldn’t give a shit if it is run from Edinburgh or not. I am amazed somebody as stupid as you can actually operate a computer.

        • global city

          But they can’t have that, as they also would have voted to stay in the EU. The point was that the city of Glasgow would be bled dry by an independent Scotland…. but stupid people never grasp the issue.

          As Scotland has never produced a computer or processor I’m surprised that you own one.

    • somewhereinthesouth

      Quite. why do you think Scots outside Dundee and Glasgow voted yes. The voters there know all too well that THEY would end up paying for SNP socialism north of border when the English tap of money was turned off.

    • RolftheGanger

      Separation is a process. A short transition.
      Self government lasts a whole lot longer..
      The Union is a historical oddity and an anachronism. It will end and the way that westminster messes up nowadays, far sooner than expected.

  • russell lucas

    The people who underestimated the unionists and the NO campaign most disasterously were the columnists for the Spectator!
    Sanctimonious, poorly judged, pre judged and positively embarassing to read given the superb result.
    Cameron now has the chance to play a rearguard blinder.
    Lets hope you can be as successful at holding the various parts of your own organ together given such misjudgement.

    • RolftheGanger

      I read that momentarily as:

      “Cameron now has the chance to play a rearguard blunder”.
      And thought I had come upon another of the occasional insightful comments.

  • Father Onabit

    What a relief. Thought we may have to trade Buckfast for oil for a while there.

    • doesntmatter20

      Racist cunt.

      • Father Onabit

        Racist? Against whom? You don’t know if I am Scottish or English.

  • cambridgeelephant

    Well thank goodness for that – pretty fair – analysis.

    As this place reads like a ‘Dave Fanzine’ all too often – not a view that too many readers share – I feared we’d get a ‘what a clever boy our man in downing Street is’ assessment.

    If the result had gone for Yes – he would have been ‘out’ – no matter what he pretends otherwise.

    As it is he and Clegg and Milliband are right between the rock and the hard place, on this whole matter.

  • Hegelguy

    Scotland is a small country and deserves autonomy.

    England is 85 percent of the Union and already dominates it. We all speak English, not Gaelic. England has more than enough. It needs LESS, not more.

    Scots MPs voting on English questions is a good form of power sharing. Labour will defend it.

    Braying selfish English chauvinists, petty and spiteful and blind, almost had us DEAD in the referendum.

    • somewhereinthesouth

      Oh Please. And your next devolution proposal is to double the representation of MPs at Westminster from the North East, Cumbria and Cornwall ? After all they are both small and have only small influence in The House Of Commons.

    • vieuxceps2

      Small,usually faux- Celtic countries all have outspoken selfless Irish/Scots/Welsh patriots,open-minded and vengeful and singleminded.Strange how when the English people speak out all this changes to “selfish English chauvinists,petty and spiteful and blind”. Seems there are different rules when English interests are under discussion….

  • fitz fitzgerald

    The weasel poohbah censors the press to the end today :”””” Along with The Telegraph, journalists from the Daily Mail and the Daily Express were also not invited.

    The Guardian did not send a reporter after the First Minister’s office attempted to nominate which reporter could be sent.

    Severin Carrell, The Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, said: “The Guardian declined its place at Alex Salmond’s post #indyref press conference after Scottish Govt insisted on picking Guardian reporter.”

    Alan Rodin, the Scottish Daily Mail’s Political Editor, said: “Mail, Telegraph & Express excluded from Alex Salmond’s press conference. Guardian has turned down invite after Govt handpicked a journalist.”””””

  • beenzrgud

    I would say that Cameron, et al, have opened a very large can of worms, but it would be more truthful to describe it as a boatload of spitting cobras. The thing is, I just can’t bring myself to feel sorry for them !

  • pearlsandoysters

    Anyway, Scotland remains in the UK for a foreseeable future, which is great. The detailed analysis provided in the article is quite sensible, though hopefully the nationalist fervour will gradually wane.

    • doesntmatter20

      Cowardly cunt.

      • pearlsandoysters

        Nats of all stripes enjoy hurtling abuse for no good reason.

  • mariandavid

    Since I am a Canadian the issue looks simpler in terms of questions:

    Will England agree to the devolution of certain powers -probably yes, after all it will set a precedent by which regions as historic as Scotland can wrest back some of the powers abrogated to (as they see it) the south-east region.

    Will the governing party in England graciously agree to the evolution: based on comments here and elsewhere – highly unlikely – in which case, even if the devolution is passed by Parliament the divisions will remain and probably increase. After all Scottish separation was an emotional issue (hence its baffled responses to questions like currency) driven by an almost visceral hatred of what it saw as the contemptible conduct of Conservative leaders dating back to and in some ways created by Thatcher.

    Here in Canada the seemingly endless debate over the separation of Quebec is presently dormant largely due to the political defeat of both the federal and provincial parties that supported it. May I suggest that English politicians take this to heart and take seriously the need, as happened here, to converge British, English and Scottish ‘branches’ of a party so that there is commonality of attitude. Something that was utterly lacking in the months leading up to the vote.

  • Innit Bruv

    May you live in interesting times…..

  • https://www.ajbrenchley.com/ Shenandoah

    The Globe & Mail of Canada says: ‘Eligible voters included Scotland residents who are 16 and older and are British citizens; qualifying Commonwealth citizens; or citizens of a European Union member state’.

    Is this true? Participants in the referendum didn’t even have to be UK citizens? Surely they jest. Surely….

    Even allowing the teenieboppers was unconscionable in a constitutional question of this magnitude. As if a 16-year-old would have any relevant perspective on anything!

  • https://www.ajbrenchley.com/ Shenandoah

    Given that foreign nationals and below-voting-age teens were allowed a say in this referendum, the NO vote — or rather, YES TO THE UK — looks stronger than it does ‘officially’, on paper.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Focus on the turnout rate. Where outside DPRK (that’s North Korea to you) do you ever see 90% plus?

    • cambridgeelephant

      Obama register 110% of the vote in some areas of Philidelphia in 2014. I thought that was quite impressive.

  • Liz

    There needs to be devolution for women.

    • pedestrianblogger

      Yeah, yeah. “Woman is the Scotland of the world”.

      • Liz

        More like the Tibet.

    • http://www.ajbrenchley.com/ Freedom

      Devolution for women; evolution for men? :^0

  • PetaJ

    The worst HAS happened. From today’s headlines it looks as though Gordon Brown is back in charge.

  • rtj1211

    I think the authors of this article are naive in the extreme if they think the saving of the Union is secure for decades.

    What has happened is that Scotland has given London one final chance to turn the UK into an inclusive, vibrant country where London and the SE don’t play dominance dungeon politics with all the rest of the country.

    If they try and fob them off one more time, if they think that muddling through whilst increasing London privilege is going to succeed, then they are so off with the fairies as to be laughable.

    This is a stay of execution pending learning how to behave.

    2020 will see the Union gone for ever if Westminster as usual, right wing media as usual continues for 5 more years…….

  • jamesbarn

    The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from this vote is this undeniable fact. Regardless of who the electorate support it is shamefully plain to see that Salmond has done Cameron up like a kipper, not only in negotiating the referendum terms but has reduced him to relying on that world class buffoon Brown to steal the show in supporting the “NO” campaign. The entire Scotish nation must be in stitches of laughter at westminsters dreadfull lack of forethought and understanding. Cameron will I fear now become an international laughing stock in negotiating circles
    This is not the end by any means

  • Hole_in_One

    Constitutional mess? That’s what we had before. We all vote every GE, and within weeks the manifestos are binned (hopefully recycled in the case of the Greens), before the pigs-in-trough disposition of our political masters is re-engaged. Yes, the Scots turned out at 84% – this will not happen again, since there is nothing worth voting for.

  • Bonkim

    Very good question – only time will tell.

  • Peter Stroud

    I naively assumed that Brown entered the fray at Miliband’s request, and that Cameron was left out of the matter. If our PM did encourage the move, then his judgement is even more in doubt, than once thought possible. Did either Miliband or Cameron think that the megalomaniac would fade into oblivion after earning so much praise? To quote one Oliver Hardy: “another fine mess you’ve got us into.”

  • Epimenides

    Breaking news, folks. Cameron has appointed Gordon Brown to run the government.


    “And that resolution is signed by all three leaders of the main political parties, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition.
    “And I have signed that resolution as well, the four of us.
    “We have set down a timetable that is absolutely clear.

    Brown is the new PM. Where is Cameron? On a beach in his wetsuit?

  • David Scott

    “But rather than strengthen the Union, devolution weakened it by creating separate national conversations.”

    So why was there no mediating mechanism?
    Maybe the Scots just wanted a voice that wasn’t drowned out by London’s interests. There are many around England that need a voice too.
    Perhaps the failure was to take the political voice to these parts of England too.

    • doesntmatter20

      The Scots are not your fucking baby sitters. Just over half of them are cowardly cunts, but if you want a say in your own affairs then do something about it and stop whining.

      • David Scott

        What are you on about?

  • Real Scot

    Equal Powers for Equal Nations !! .

  • andylowings

    there will be always a question in my mind when I talk to the Scots from now on.

    • doesntmatter20

      Dying for someone to ask? Nah. Nobody cares.

  • Malus Pudor

    Lord North’s loss of the American colonies, and the shame that went with it, should pale into insignificance in comparison to the wretched Cameron’s capitulation to Scotland…

    * His anointment of the odious and disgraced, Gordon Brown, as his spokesman to tell the Scots that they could maintain all the benefits from the warped Barnett Formula… that more funds would flow to the Scots in furthering privileges unavailable to the English: free education, health care, care of the old…. the list is endless… and then implying that more devolution would pass to these wretched parasites in the north, while we, English, would pay for it, was a breathtaking betrayal of his mandate to his electorate and in line with his lies over his promised referendum over our continued leeching by the EU.

    * How did the odious, self-serving and disgraced Gordon Brown, who decimated our economy… selling all our gold reserves… costing us nearly 100 billion… and bailing out all the Scotch banks get up on his high horse, subsuming our current insignificant twerp in No 10, and tell those revolting Scots that they could have anything they wanted if they voted to save the Union.

    * Brown failed to say that by voting for the Union, all those grasping ignoramuses from north of the border were in fact securing the future livelihoods of parasites and scumbags like Brown and the 40 plus Scotch MPs who ponce a living off the cash cow that is Westminster…. that is before we take into account all the other refugees from the Scotch media who swan around in London salons , having escaped the parochial restrictions of their narrow Scotch Presbyterian backgrounds….

    Wake up England… You are being completely shafted….

  • Fatcol

    I disagree with most of this analysis.

    John Reid would have been a worse front man than Darling. He is not a popular figure.

    The wording of the question was not important. Only a small fraction of the voters going into the booth could have told you in advance what is was. By then their minds had been made up.

    Cameron didn’t blunder on the exclusion of the Devo Max option. The No vote could have ended up on 25-30% if that had been included. That would have been disastrous for the unionist cause in the longer term.

    The Yes campaign just caught fire in the final month. The younger people in particular suddenly had a sense that the eyes of the world were on them and something monumental was about to happen. The atmosphere got quite heady. Facebook would have gone into meltdown from all the uploading of Yes party selfies.

    Without Salmond though, the independence movement isn’t going to get this sort of momentum going again in the foreseeable future. The SNP’s new leadership won’t have that edge over the opposition.

  • global city

    Does anybody feel that they are being nudged into being outraged and demanding ‘Change’ in England?

    Many Lib Dems have been on the airwaves assuming to talk on behalf of the English saying how angry we all are….and how WE ARE CLAMOURING FOR ADJUSTMENTS THAT JUST HAPPEN TO BE THOSE THAT THE EUROFREAK LIB DEMS HAVE BEEN TOUTING FOR YEARS!

    English regions is code for Euro Regions. Lib Dems are evil and fanatical. Any proposal that emerges over the coming months that includes devolution to ‘regions’ should be shot down and their chains of command investigated, as they all run between the locale and Brussels, bypassing Westminster.

  • unknownknowns

    As a ‘No’ voter, I pointed out some time back that my ‘No’ should in no way be construed as as vote for DEVO-MAX. When I watched Gordon Brown speaking the other night. I was astonished at the content and, subsequently, at the instant apparent agreement with that content from our very own Troika.
    Reality now seems somewhat different than ‘the dream’.

    The only winners, as I see it, will be the SNP in Scotland and UKIP south of the border, given the near-on-impossibility of delivering anything close to GB’s ‘announcement’ and time-frame.

    In retrospect, and my thoughts at the time, there was no need for any such announcement! Who allowed/authorised it in the first place?

    Tam Dalyell (The West Lothian question), on Newsnight seemed to come up with a reasonable answer to the problem though:
    (@ 2:18), only a 5 min interview.

    The ‘Yes’ voters will claim that the reason they lost was down, solely, to these promises made on behalf of the ‘Better together’ crowd. I think otherwise, but there will be no real way of calculating that out of the results.

    Politicians are, I guess, just gonna politic!

    • doesntmatter20

      Cowardly cunt.

  • No Man’s Land

    Sorry if you’ve read this same comment over at the Telegraph, but I feel strongly enough about it to repeat it to you good chaps at the Speccie:

    It is my opinion that we need a separate English Parliament, with different elected members, distinct from the Westminster UK Parliament.

    I realise this will be expensive, but if Westminster becomes a hybrid it will come to be considered as the English Parliament. The result can only serve nationalist causes across the UK. Another consequence on this conflation of Parliaments will be in preventing Scottish MPs from ever becoming PM for practical reasons.

    So a separate Parliament, separate election, separate members. In other words a proper fedral system. My own conservative instinct was always against devolution, but as the cat is out of bag lets have a proper system and not some god awful fudge which will store up trouble for the future.

  • Randy McDonald

    “Even Westminster insiders are uninterested in the Holyrood parliament.
    As one Tory cabinet member puts it: ‘I could not name more than three
    members of the Scottish government, which is bad. What’s worse, in fact,
    is that I could not care.’”

    This is a rather foolish attitude to take towards a constituent nation of the Union and its institutions. The fault is not with Scottish devolution, here.

  • timinsingapore

    Dianne Abbott is sometimes sane, sometimes (as in this case) subject to mental malfunction. Her sneering is rather irritating at times.

  • global city

    Why does the MSM treat the SNP and UKIP so differently?

    ‘The narrative’


    • Malus Pudor

      What an absolutely brilliant and apposite avatar !!

  • VSP

    Love the cartoon. There is little to congratulate in any political party, more condemnation for the three. I hope labour have self exploded and sink without trace and the liberals simply continue to fade away. These two placed a heavy reliance on the fascist EU and how its socialism hijacks every democracy in its grasp. Some Tories are just as bad. So I believe we need UKIP to ensure we leave that EU horror and to bring some reality back into our politics. Until we leave the EU there can be no proper and independent settlement to British affairs. .

  • trace9

    The Scots are susceptible to being swept by common emotions – to which 90% of the Nats’ campaign was directed. Think the wild, reckless Highland Charge, the undisciplined Charge of the Scots Greys – even under Wellington’s nose. At one stage I was predicting a 60% Nat majority based mainly on local appearances & feeling. Mea culpa. Thankfully stable older folks & the Scots’ respect for his purse & pension put the brakes on. Emotion will now subside in most Scots and it’ll be Life As We Know It, all over again. The Scot is no fool, nor tool; just very occasionally excitable, carry-away-able, in a way surprising to the stolid Saxon. I quite like it. Can be bloody frightening though.

    • doesntmatter20

      Shut the fuck up, you racist twat. Substitute almost any other word for Scots and you’d be rightfully told how FUCKING DARE YOU.

      So I am saying it. And shut the fuck up, you racist twat.

      • Gerschwin

        Been over doing it on the Irn Bru old chap? There, there…

  • Martin Rogers

    Now you know why the English had no say in it….they would have voted YES to get rid of em !!!

    • doesntmatter20

      Nah. They were hanging on tooth and nail in total desperation to keep them. But then, you already know that.

  • Gweedo

    This UK federalism stuff is perfectly simple.

    Simply remove Scots MPs from the Commons, and make the Lords the “federal” chamber and fill it with worthies from various parts of the country. Don’t call it the federal chamber though, as it lacks class. You could elect the people in the upper chamber, if you want to make life unnecessarily complicated, but you only need them to ensure they provide a minimum of scrutiny of foreign affairs and defence, as well as any English legislation that might affect other parts of the Union.

    Then devolve all taxes to the national parliaments, except VAT. £100 billion a year ought to be enough to run the armed forces and a few embassies.

    Ta-da! Fiscal responsibility and coherent federalism in one go. I’m thinking that the necessary legislation would be about 4 sides of A4…

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    The country formally known as UK: FUK?

  • doesntmatter20

    The union is utterly and completely fucked. The civil unrest has already started, but the media aren’t reporting on it. No shock there.

    You had a chance to be proud of yourselves. A chance to stop the Tories stripping the NHS apart and shitting on the poor and vulnerable. A chance to govern your own nation. And you chose to be a laughing stock instead.

    You bent over and took it up the arse from Westminster again. No blaming the English this time. You destroyed yourselves.

    I hope you cowardly No fuckers are happy when the Scots are slaughtering one another in the streets.

    And let me be very clear, I will fucking swear if I damn well please. And no, its not a paucity of vocabulary, it’s a choice. Just like those ignorant, ill educated fools Chaucher and Shakespeare, sometimes I swear for pith and moment, sometimes to emphasise a point and sometimes just because I fucking want to.

    If it bothers you, good. You’re a beige cardigan wearing twat and it pleases me deeply that you are offended by my words.

    • Gerschwin

      It’s not its (line 10)… tut tut.. you really must watch your Ps and Qs.

      • getlost

        Except, he didn’t say anything about grammar. And it’s obviously a typo.

        10/10 for attempting pedantry. 1/10 for successful pedantry.

  • misomiso

    Look at this Poll:-


    Are the Scottish Tories really not going to change and go independent?

  • dougmacleod

    SNP membership has doubled since the referendum. At 50,000 and growing they are bigger than UKIP by a mile and bigger than the LibDems too. This is not finished business.

  • Martin Jennerson

    The “rationale” side of the argument was easily won except where people rationally realised that their needs might be better served in a new society (Glasgow, Dundee). The emotional “argument” was non-existent, awful and pitiful, but that isn’t wholly politicians’ fault. There needs to be some emotional attachment to group identity, promoted through education and culture. The cultural and educational establishment seem to loathe the idea of British identity, instead they opt for multicultural nothingness, so there’s just a void now.

  • FrankieThompson

    “The Prime Minister had to turn to Gordon Brown, and seemingly give him the authority to redraft the constitution at will. He must now accept the consequences.”

    And there , in a nutshell, is the problem. Brown went on to tell the electorate that the status quo wasn’t now on the ballot paper. How can the result be settled then?

    And think of the political reality of what happened when Cameron gave Brown the authority “to redraft the constitution at will”. Think about that for a minute. The formal “Union” being maintained , trumphed all other considerations. Now, why was that? I can’t help but come to one conclusion, in one word.


  • Sean Grainger

    Can we please just not take Abbott seriously as in not. I thank you