‘When the referendum on independence is over, I am open to looking at how the devolved settlement can be improved further. And yes, that means considering what further powers could be devolved.’
These words in David Cameron’s speech today, which follow on from what the Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said at the weekend, make clear what the Unionist campaign’s message will be. They’ll say to the Scottish electorate ‘Vote no to independence and then we can talk about devo-max’.
This strategy will probably ensure victory in the referendum. But there are risks to it. First, more constitutional debate will create more uncertainty. Second, any changes to the devolution settlement which further disadvantage England risk sparking off a rise in English nationalism. Finally, there’s a danger that more devolution acts as a stepping stone to independence.
Cameron’s speech today is worth reading in full, though. It offers a lyrical defence of the Union. As Cameron points out, the Union is not a thing of the past but a reality that we are living. Do we really think that those of our friends and relatives who live on the other side of the border are foreigners?