A few thoughts following the Scottish referendum

1. Scotland made the right decision.

2. Labour under Ed Miliband is looking considerably weaker than before the referendum. Cameron probably ended up being a more persuasive advocate for the union than Miliband. Miliband has neither a ‘heartland’, a community who would identify with him, as did Wilson, Callaghan, Smith and Brown, nor the personality to build a wider English following, as did Blair. I do believe Sadiq Khan or Tom Watson (who has written an interesting response to the referendum) would make stronger leaders (if they would want the position).

3. Never have the Liberal Democrats looked more insignificant, despite the fact that they are the second largest party at Westminster representing Scottish seats.

4. Two people to have come out reasonably well from the campaign, and who have been underestimated, are Gordon Brown and George Galloway. Brown should attempt a come-back as First Minister of Scotland, and more widely his legacy should be re-assessed.

5. ‘Scottish workers have more in common with London dockers, Durham miners & Sheffield engineers than they have with Scottish barons & landlords’ – Scottish miners’ leader Mick McGahey in 1968 on Scottish separatism vs working class solidarity (as quoted = by Ken Livingstone).

6. I don’t see why the unemployed and those on low pay in devastated communities in the North of England – or in inner city London – are any less worthy of special treatment than the Scots. Trying to divide these communities on grounds of ‘nation’, as Salmond + co do, is cynical and pathetic.

7. The whole devo max package was a last minute panicked reaction to one poll showing the ‘Yes’ camp in the lead. Major legislation like this should not be rushed through without all the consequences being considered. This will now utterly dominate the legislative agenda up until the election, and will have a major effect upon the election itself.

8. The West Lothian question will not go away, nor should it. Labour are burying their heads in the sand over this, retreating to their comfort zone when they need more English votes to win an election. They could trump Cameron by giving a firm commitment to a German-style federal system, which would utterly transform British politics.

9. A new variety of the West Lothian question: why should those in Glasgow be able to be exempt from various aspects of policies determined in Westminster, but those in Newcastle not?

10. The borders between England, Scotland and Wales are pretty meaningless anyhow, as are most nation states. There is however some logic in the whole of Great Britain being a unified entity because of its geographical nature.

11. One of the worst elements of the campaign was the presenting of a Manichean struggle between ‘Scotland’ and ‘London’. London is simply the capital city, where MPs meet. Many Londoners are just as much the victim of successive governments’ policies as those in Scotland. In an independent Scotland, would it be any more fair to attack the people of Edinburgh, because Hollyrood is there? The article linked to earlier by Tom Watson makes much of the chasm between the City of London and Scotland – and the rest of the UK, and how that chasm was allowed to increase during the Thatcher years. But this is about capital and its concentration, not about Londoners in general. Hating people because they happen to come from or live in the most international city in Europe, London (I don’t come from the city originally, but have lived here for 21 years), is the worst type of politics.

2 Comments on “A few thoughts following the Scottish referendum”

  1. Many good and sensible thoughts here.

    As a Scot not entitled to vote as I live outside Scotland, I’d hoped that the result would be as it was – not only a “No” vote but a clear though small majority; a landslide “”No” would almost certainly have encouraged the maintenance of the status quo throughout UK instead of the gradual constitutional shake-up that is now the most likely result, so it seems to me that the electorate in Scotland have gotten it just about as right as they could.

    Whilst I applaud David Cameron in ensuring that the referendum took place, the premises under which it did so were woefully ill-considered, in my view. As not only Scots but those of all nationalities living in Scotland could vote (which is fair enough) and those many Scots living outside Scotland could not do so, the much vaunted and loudly advertised “the Scottish people should decide” was somewhat misleading. What was far more serious, however, was that the questions of what currency a post-independence Scotland would use, what its relationship with EU might be, whether it would, should or indeed could retain the British monarchy and a host other other fundamental issues were not clarified as should have been the case by the time the referendum was launched.

    I was astonished at the effectiveness – albeit more or less at the eleventh hour – of Gordon Brown, who seems thoroughly to have reinvented himself and in the lead-up to 18 September he did himself, as well as not only Scots but all in UK, considerable credit.

    I’m broadly in agreement with most of what you write here. I think that one of the best things about the referendum itself was the exceptionally high turnout and one of the best things about its outcome was that it clarified beyond all reasonable doubt that one of the most important opportunities the referendum gave to the Scottish electorate was to express their dismay and disgruntlement with Westmonster politics; of course such disdain is by no means exclusive to the Scottish electorate(!) but, since the most recent General Election, Scotland has had almost no representation in government, so the attitude of its citizens towards the Londoncentric pig’s breakfast that political conduct can all to often be is perfectly understandable and particuarly potent. Having said that, I’m nevertheless 100% behind you on your final point about London and Londoners!

  2. Daniel says:

    The Conservatives will probably never win another general election without constitutional change. The party last won a majority in 1992 – and last won a sustainable majority in 1987. Their actions should thus be watched very closely.

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