I’ve been in Turkey the past week, which as anyone will tell you is the friendliest and most beautiful of countries, and a kinder and more welcoming people you will not meet. But I’d be lying if I didn’t add that a major bonus of being there was that I missed the finale of the interminable Scottish debate.
As expected the Nos had it, but as Lord Ashcroft’s poll suggests the long-term future for the United Kingdom is still bleak; the union was saved by older voters, while only a small minority who voted No did so for emotional rather than pragmatic reasons.
Worst of all, David Cameron and Ed Miliband managed to contrive to leave us with the worst of all outcomes, with mutual bitterness about the promises given to the Scots, done without the consent of English voters in any way.
The constitutional mess that is the United Kingdom has gone beyond one of those fudges of which we were so good at; instead the British government has managed to do to its own people what it’s so famously good at doing towards people abroad – making contradictory promises towards two groups. Billy Connolly has warned, and Peter Hitchens likewise in this eloquent piece, that Cameron cannot go back on his promises of more powers for Scotland. Yet there is no way that people in England will now accept an arrangement that gives their neighbours near-independence but with all the protections and subsidies of the United Kingdom.
The situation now resembles the Union of Crowns from 1603-1707 when Scotland had its own parliament but was still under the king in Westminster, and Cameron is behaving like Charles I: making promises to his northern kingdom that affect the southern one, without regards to how the southerners feel.