The morning after the night before

Lee Waters says the reaction to Scotland’s No vote shows little sign of encouragement for a stable settlement.

The result, in the end, was clear, thankfully: 55.3% thought the UK was ‘better together’, 44.7% wanted Scotland to be an Independent country.

There will be much analysis of the campaign to come, but this morning the immediate question is: what next?

The Prime Minister has quickly set out the UK Government’s response. He’s promised “a balanced settlement – fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well”.

It’s a settlement, however, that will not be addressed on a UK-wide basis.  Carwyn Jones’ prescient calls for a UK-wide Constitutional Convention do not feature in David Cameron’s thinking.  Instead, a cross-party committee is being set-up (including the SNP) under Lord Robert Smith of Kelvin (Chair of energy giant SSE who led Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games organising committee) “to oversee the process to take forward the devolution commitments with powers over tax, spending and welfare all agreed by November and draft legislation published by January”.

Separately a Conservative / Liberal Democrat cabinet committee, led by William Hague, will draw-up plans to the same timetable to address the question of ‘English votes for English laws’ – including the recommendations of the McKay Commission and a announcement in the coming days of “how to empower our great cities”.

What about Wales?  David Cameron said “There are proposals to give the Welsh Government and Assembly more powers. And I want Wales to be at the heart of the debate on how to make our United Kingdom work for all our nations”.

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb ensured that Wales featured in the PMs statement, but its not yet clear where Wales fits in to the Government’s response. The Wales Bill, enacting some of the recommendations of the first part of the Silk Commission’s report, is currently before Parliament and could yet be amended.

My first reaction is that is looks likely we will repeat the mistakes of the past in crafting an expedient response to pressure. Just as in the 1950s a Scottish Covenant movement and a mass petition for a Parliament for Wales was defused with conceding some change – a Cabinet Minister for Wales in our case – so the pressure for a Parliament for Scotland, and aversion to a ‘democratic deficit’ in Wales, produced a modest devolution settlement in the late 1990s. Both have subsequently developed in response to further pressure, but the absence of a stable settlement has brought the Union to the brink of collapse.

Whilst a 55% vote for Scotland remaining in the UK looks like a show of strength, the Union is far from secure. More than 1.6 million people in Scotland yesterday voted to dissolve the United Kingdom.  The promises that helped to keep them in are the source of growing resentment amongst a considerable number of English MPs, and growing public disquiet.

Respected Conservative commentator Tim Montgomery said on Radio Four’s Today Programme this morning that preventing MPs from outside England from voting on laws that only apply to England would have significant advantages for David Cameron, noting “the chances of English majority rule by the Conservatives are hugely increased”. And it’s a point not lost on Labour

“The Union is secure for now. But a commitment had to be made to give Scotland substantially more powers. That had not been part of the plan at the outset. Anyone who imagines that this referendum has settled the Scottish question for all time will be very disappointed” Prof James Mitchell from Edinburgh University wrote in his analysis this morning.

The greatest pressure on David Cameron is coming from England and Scotland, and it is a political inevitability that the Government will want to defuse the immediate threats. But surely the history of the devolution process since 1945 tells us by now that short-term tactics are not successful in stabilising the Union.  If the Union is to fair and balanced to everyone, as David Cameron said this morning, then a lasting settlement needs to be forged.

“The inclination of the Westminster establishment is to be minimalist and incremental.  The decision has to be maximalist and radical” former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said this morning.

 The early signs are not encouraging.

Lee Waters is Director of the IWA.

38 thoughts on “The morning after the night before

  1. Good thoughtful analysis.
    Subsequent responses need to beyond the political – the Referendum campaign was also about a need for new forms of politcial engagement as well as emotion and identity – and dare I say it as a marketing person, ‘Brand’.
    We need to nurture a debate and consideration about where all of us in what we call the ‘UK’ go from here, not just in political arrangements, important though these may be, but also about what it means to be ‘Welsh’, ‘British’ and more.

  2. Comments are spot on. As Phil Collins points out in the Times today the losers are the Labour Party. I suppose this is what you get when you base devolving power not on principle but on the fear of Celtic nationalism. The First Minister can huff and Puff as much as he likes but there will be no Constitutional Convention or a real federal UK. Peter Hain’s rejection of an English Parliament this morning is a clear indication of the difficulties when one part of the UK is so much greater than the other parts. Federalism would only work in practice if you split England into regions and there is no demand for that.

    Last night’s result was the one that the Tories with just one MP in Scotland wanted. As a party they have absolutely nothing to lose by giving more powers to both Scotland and Wales. But in return they will expect both Scotland and Wales to send fewer MPs to Westminster and also they will ensure that those MPs will have no say in English only matters. The only problem with that is even if the Barnett formula is reformed which is now a big if any new distribution formula will be based on spending in England. Just imagine a scenario where English only MPs vote to introduce the insurance principle into health spending with a subsequent reduction in the NHS total spend in England which will then have a knock on effect in Wales.

    Unfortunately we still have a mess because no one thought through the consequences of devolution. Everyone is claiming quite rightly that yesterday was a triumph for democracy. Yet already we are back in the world of deals and committees led by the great and the good. You really can’t have a lasting constitutional settlement without consulting the people. At the moment the party leaders are not even consulting their MPs or members. It really is policy making on the hoof. If a referendum is good enough for the Scots when it comes to constitutional change then it should be good enough for the rest of us. If politics has changed then constitutional reform needs more than paragraph in an election manifesto to have legitimacy

  3. I feel you rather miss the most important points arising from the vents of the last 24 hours.

    Firstly, the ‘silent majority’ has found its voice. And it is a voice that the UK nation as a whole was happy to hear. This will have significant implications for certain policies and policy making here in Wales where the ‘silent majority’ have, to some, remained silent for far too long.

    Secondly, the Union has been strengthened way beyond current comprehension. Never again will it be threatened by ‘the Proletariat’ seeking more for less. The Barnett formula is now an irrelevance as each part of the UK will gradually be forced to live within its own funding means (or seek external funding from neighbouring parts …….. and be seen by everyone to have sought such). Accountability for contribution to the Union, in all its forms, will become the new mantra for UK plc.

    Thirdly, nationalism in all its forms is now stone dead. The movement has lost credibility and suffered a crushing blow, the effects of which will only be fully understood over the coming years.

    Nothing knee-jerk here and certainly nothing radical. Incremental change rather than maximalist, as has always been the British way.

  4. Having been up all night until the rather anti-climactic semi-official declaration at 0700, a coherent and comprehensive analysis of all the implications of last night is too tall an order, so here are just a few random thoughts that are hitting the mind with particular force at the moment:-

    First, although a ‘No’ vote was expected, it was never guaranteed. We stood at the edge of the abyss yesterday and stared in. The relief most of us feel at the survival of our country must not blind us to the fact that we should never have allowed that situation to develop in the first place.

    Second, the size of the ‘No’ victory, just over the psychologically important 10% margin, is as important as the fact of it. In some ways a ‘No’ victory so narrow that it would only have prolonged uncertainty until a later ‘Yes’ vote would have been worse than an outright ‘Yes’ victory.

    Third, the one good thing that came out of the whole process was that everyone in Scotland seems to have had a serious conversation about politics, resulting in that wonderful record turnout. Democracy is still possible. How can we do the same?

    Fourth, the one bad thing that came out of the process is the uncertainty resulting from the last minute panic. Constitutional development should be based on calm, intelligent, informed, and inclusive conversation, not hasty concessions by a nervous political class.

    Fifth, why is anyone still claiming that ‘devolution will kill nationalism stone dead’?

    Sixth, the ‘No’ victory was in spite of the appalling ‘No’ campaign and its unwanted so-called supporters in Westminster, not because of them. There remains a need for someone to put the positive case for the Union, so that this does not happen again in future.

  5. Lots of good points here – in the piece and in the comments. I think Jeff’s point about the Barnett formula is a particularly important one that is being missed in media comment today. Only English MPs voting on English only matters sounds fine in principle, but in practice many of those “English only” matters will have direct spending consequences for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland because of the way that the Barnett formula works – yes, the formula that David Cameron has just pledged to keep. In other words, the operation of the Barnett formula means that they are not “English only” matters. There are ways around this, like for example having a needs based formula that allocates funds to the four nations, including England, in a federal system – but they are not going to agree that by November!

  6. Nothing “knee-jerk”, Karen? What about the establishment panic and sweeteners a few days before the vote, when thousands had already cast their (postal) vote? And which nationalism is stone dead? Celtic, British? The fun now starts with the EU referendum in 2017 where the British nationalist unionists led by the UKIP and most of the Conservative party will espouse the very arguments the SNP used to leave the safe supranational haven and risk it in the big wide world…….

  7. Yes, JWR. That turnout was a very big plus, there is no room for either side to whinge on about the decision being made by a 55% fraction of a 40% fraction of the electorate. This decision even encompasses the newly enfranchised 16 year olds and I look forward to seeing the analysis of how they took their responsibilities. For Scotland the future is one of massive political engagement….people have visited a polling booth who never bothered in the past.

    Here in wales just under half of those polled in a recent survey didn’t know that the NHS was a devolved area of responsibility. It may have been over 50% since some might have just Guessed correctly that it was the Welsh Assembly.

    This is a desperate situation since we will be balloted eventually on devolution of tax varying powers and about 52% of 45% of the electorate will make the decision encouraged by our major political parties, not one of which supports an alternative view (no matter whatever any voter thinks).

    So we in Wales stagger ever onwards towards our own Independence referendum at some point where we will have pretty well complete control of everything anyway.

    Is this Democracy? It doesn’t smell like it.

  8. You are just using Nationalist scare-mongering William Dolben. The UK won’t leave the EU when it comes down to it although, recently, it looks as though Wales is pretty sceptical about EU membership. Remember that UKIP in Wales was a very close second in the recent EU elections.

  9. I am angry about the commitment to retain the Barnet formula – Wales has been sold down the river as the price of appeasing the scots.

  10. J.Jones, just pointing out that there are nationalists with states and nationalists without states. Some people seem “internationalist” but they’re actually nationalist right through, so nationalist, monolingual and monocultural that they can’t see how nationalist they are in their views and of course can’t access other views. Irrespective of the result of the 2017 referendum, it will be funny to note the similarity between the Unionist and the SNP arguments for leaving UK/EU.

    Not sure what the UKIP vote says about Welsh attitudes to the EU. I’d prefer to see how many seats they win in next year’s election in Wales. If they win one I’ll take you dinner anywhere you like in Cardiff, deal?

    I do however agree with your point about turnout but I’m not sure compulsory voting would work. One possibility would be to only elect 325 MP’s rather than 650 if only 50% vote. That might wake the politicians up

  11. Ah but William…when we come to the Welsh Assembly elections will the dinner date still stand if UKIP get an AM?

    Anyway, I would make it clear that UKIP are not my cup of tea but I also am quite fed up of consensus politics in Wales. Uniform, bland incompetence with no visible way out…

  12. Classic comment by Boris Johnson that Cameron’s promise on Barnett was reckless and that Boris was more interested in a Barnett formula that does justice to Barnet. Sums up neatly Carwyn Jones’s problem. Reform of Barnett isn’t just about more money for Wales. Last year the LGA which represents local government in England argued that local government in England was being short changed each year to the tune of £4.1 billion because of a Barnett formula which in their eyes favoured not only Scotland but Wales. One of the problems with yesterday for the Labour Party is that it has now to address the English question as John Denham points out on his blog. Unfortunately for Wales UK general Elections are won in England and not Wales. It will be interesting to see how or even if Miliband tries to get out of the trap that the Tories have very quickly sprung on Labour. To make matters worse for Labour they now face a real problem in the Central Belt in Scotland where the SNP will try to build on the Yes vote next May. The UK General Election in Scotland could be very interesting for Labour. It could revolve around which party the voters believe will deliver on the vague promises made by the UK Party leaders. If voters believe that the SNP offers a better chance of delivery through influence in a hung Parliament on the promise of more powers then sitting Labour MPs could be in real difficulty. The large Yes majority vote in both Glasgow and North Lanarkshire should really worry the Labour Party.

  13. Some observations:

    The ‘vow’ was offered because No were in real danger of losing. Some very brave hard-line unionists hiding behind the anonymity of blog sites today may well say that they would have called Scotland’s bluff and offered nothing. Cameron et. al. did not have the luxury of that armchair bravura. They were living in the real world. They also saw the very real ‘revolutionary’ spirit abroad in Glasgow and other places that the BBC mostly kept off the screens but was seen by the rest of the world’s press. There can be little doubt that without the firm promise of Devo Max last week, Scotland would be independent today.

    To renege on that promise would send Scotland down a route that we have not seen in these islands since 1916. Those who wish to test those basic human and political tolerances are entitled to their moment of madness but fortunately our political establishment is more pragmatic than that and Devo Max will be delivered. Scotland will be almost entirely self-governing on domestic affairs with substantial fiscal autonomy within the year. Get used to it…

    Given the dialetical political mentality of the English shires it follows that if Devo Max is delivered to Scotland so will an English ‘parliament’ (the precise configuration is irrelevant but the principle will be enacted in some way). Scottish MPs will be excluded for England only matters and a de facto English government will exist for all domestic affairs. There is very little appetite for regional devolution in England (particularly of the ‘jurisdictional’, legislative kind which characterises Scottish and Welsh devolution) but there IS considerable and powerful opposition to it. It is perhaps conceivable that an ‘English parliament’ may choose to devolve some fiscal and executive powers to city-regions, throw an executive bone at Cornwall , etc., but this will happen in the context of English sovereignty not UK sovereignty. The Labour dream of English regionalism is over, at least under the auspices of the UK. Within a year or two there will be a Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and English parliament with their own governments, de jure or de facto.

    Beyond protecting its key interests of national security, water and overall macro-economic control, it is clear that London has no specific constitutional agenda for Wales. Whatever ceiling is set for Scottish ‘Home Rule’ the same would be conceded to Wales if a) Wales is prepared to pay for it and b) Wales doesn’t cause any trouble, i.e. encroaching on English sovereignty with barmy ideas like federal parliaments and ‘equal’ voices on UK matters. A bilateral accommodation of considerable autonomy within a ‘dependency’ is perfectly feasible. An elevation to ‘partner’ status in a quasi-federal union simply contravenes England’s self-interest.

    Domestic English political autonomy IS going to happen now, and it is time Wales’s unionist political leaders woke up to the fact. Westminster is not going to selflessly dilute its English sovereignty to indulge the ‘cake-and-eat-it’ federalist preferences of the mainstream Welsh polity. And so they are faced with the choice of ‘putting up’ and taking on the same domestic responsibilities that will fall to Scotland and England, or ‘shutting up’ and requesting that the English parliament indulges the presence of our 40 (probably 30 going forward) MPs for the half dozen policy areas and fiscal levers not devolved to Wales. The inevitable invisibility and electoral irrelevance that goes along with that is, I’m afraid, part of the deal.

    I am enough of a realist to accept that some dependency of this sort on England in domestic affairs may well continue for the foreseeable future, but I am intellectually curious enough to question whether we have as yet tested the limits of our potential at this time. Indeed Jerry Holtham asked the same question, perhaps suggesting this was a time to be a little bit “bolder”… Is Silk 1 and 2 really the correct line in the sand?

    Let us be clear though, if we choose not to take on certain devolved domestic responsibilities, it will be England’s parliament and her government that will determine our arrangements, not the UK.

  14. Massive victory for Cameron, Farage, and the London-based Right. It is also a triumph for Labour’s brand of British Nationalism, but it will prove to be short-term joy as ultimately it will be debilitating for them in electoral terms as they finally bury their ‘socialist’ cape, and come out of the closet as a neo-liberal Unionist force. As a consequence of yesterday’s No, the Tories will win in 2015, with a possible link up with UKIP to form a new Coalition. With or without this partnership, the UK will invariably decide to leave the EU in 2017, despite the fact that the vote in Scotland will almost certainly be to retain UK membership. This will be the next “crisis” moment, and a 2nd Scottish Referendum may will be Holyrood’s payoff from Westminster. Until that time, Scotland and England will discuss, and probably enact, various types of devolution and parliamentary arrangements. Wales is now firmly entrenched in La La Land; so peripheral, and irrelevant, that it is only really IWA and Cardiff Bay navel-gazers who even discuss us.

  15. The UK union is between very similar, closely integrated economic, social and cultural nations. The EU consists of 27 widely differing nations and the result has been massive unemployment in some countries, especially amongst the young and with little prospect of any improvements for the foreseeable future. It certainly makes sense for some EU countries to share and perhaps unite, but not for everyone. Britain differs considerably from most other EU nations so closer integration is problematic to say the least whilst leaving could be more sensible.

  16. So nationalism in Scotland has been neutered, nationalism in Wales has been (putting it lightly) put down and out of it’s misery …. what of nationalism in England? Is it about to go into a rabid attack. This to me is a worry as it potentially has the biggest bite of the lot!

    One thing is for sure though, whilst a left of centre Welshman such as myself might be able to…. Welsh nationalists will not have the moral high ground if they complain about the rise of English nationalism. They were only too happy to rally to the cause of their ‘Celtic cousins’ (ad nauseum) in the SNP. Any vitriol towards the English nationalists doing exactly the same will unveil a deep seated racism.. which may or may not come as a surprise.

  17. I suspect that the YES vote of 45% is actually the largest block of ” like minded” voters. Sure there are different motives but they all voted unequivocally for an independent Scotland.
    The 55% NO vote can be teased out into numerous sub blocks of “like minded”. A diversity that that runs the gamut from those who would prefer the Scottish Parliament be abolished to those who expect Westminster to now facilitate something akin to Devomax for Scotland.

    Because of the unspecified further devolution option the three leaders sprung the referendum turned from a choice of either Yes or No to a choice between Yes and a myriad possible forms of further devolution, all counting as a No.

    More through circumstances than design I think the Tories might well end up with a triple whammy.
    Union saved
    Labour party nobbled
    Two suitors LibDem and UKIP, they can play off against one another if they need a future coalition partner.

  18. J. Jones. Wales doesn’t need to be sceptical about Europe. If it wasn’t for European Aid grants and Subsides, It would be equivalent to a Third World country. We are on par with the poorest of the newly joined Eastern European countries.
    An interesting byline was on BBC Scotland’s website this morning. It broke down the figures for YES votes and NO votes. The majority of YES votes were from prosperous counties with a big inroad of people from the rest of the UK and middle class people. The NO votes who were predominantly Scottish people were from the Industrial or poorer counties or cities such as Glasgow. Ironically these places are traditional Labour supporters.

  19. Phil, who are these Unionist bloggers? It is hard to find any serious Unionist opposition to the deal between the three devolutionist party leaders in Westminster. The deal was never necessary. Studying the polls, it is clear that the one that triggered the panic was a rogue. There was always a definite natural majority for the Union, even if the ‘No’ campaign did everything in their power to undermine it. Some are trying to start the mythology that Gordon Brown saved the day, but he is no more ‘The Man Who Saved the Union’ than he was ‘The Man Who Saved the World.’ The polls are clear that the numeracy and pragmatism of the Scots were the decisive factors throughout the campaign.

    Incidentally, those same polls refute those Scottish and Welsh nationalists who insist on portraying Unionism as another form of nationalism, ‘British nationalism.’ Of those who noted ‘No,’ over three quarters said they did so on grounds of practicality rather than national identity.

    Meanwhile, it gives no satisfaction to see another longstanding personal prediction coming to pass: the needs and opinions of the party leaderships at Westminster are driving the constitutional development of Wales towards accelerated devolution, not the needs and opinions of the Welsh people.

    Also, despite the efforts of those who have tried to downplay it, the West Lothian Question has now been confirmed as the central issue in the debate over Britain’s constitutional future. There is no denying that finding a solution to this problem is long overdue – but one still wishes that politicians would take the time to think and talk about the long term consequences of their actions, rather than make policy off the cuff in response to the news cycle. Have politicians learnt nothing from Mr Blair’s mistakes?

  20. “The NO votes who were predominantly Scottish people were from the Industrial or poorer counties or cities such as Glasgow. Ironically these places are traditional Labour supporters.”
    Are you sure about that Roger? Glasgow is Labour and voted “Yes” overall.

    The most staunchly “No” were Orkney and Shetland and I don’t really see those areas as havens for middle class immigrants.

    Just imagine how miffed wee eck would be if “Yes” won and Orkney and Shetland declared independence as a protectorate of rUK…taking their oil with them. After all, if Scotland can identify as a separate entity the Northern Isles can too. As can Eastern Wales of course if they find themselves out of tune with a Western Wales dedicated to bringing in a culturally and linguistically different political entity.

    I think that partition in Wales is increasingly attractive.

  21. It is pretty clear that the YES vote was split bewtween a)culturally Scottish people,b)relaticely poor people left in the post industrial areas of Glasgow.It is surely amazing that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire both whom were Salmond’s territory both voted 60% for No and 40% for yes which must have been bitter pill to swallow. We have much the same here in Wales as the very culturally welsh,usually denoted by being welsh speakers and people in the Valleys who feel left behind in economic terms are attracted to PC,whilst the rest of wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole.I don’t know who the FM is speaking for when demanding ‘more powers’ when public services are getting poorer all the time and no radical changes proposed because LLafur/Unions are in cahoots.As an example people could be asked if they agreed that about £100 Million taken out of TV Licence and passed to S4C for producing programmes for minority of a minority.

  22. JWR, 7.13pm

    You are eloquently proving my point. From the comfort of your armchair, you are now revising the history of the campaign by suggesting that “the deal was never necessary”, that without it the result was always going to be a 10% point win for No. I can understand your motivation for claiming that since it is logical that you would now want to undermine the legitimacy of Scotland moving to Devo Max. But I submit that you are deluded, that Cameron, et al, did the only thing they could do when faced with the very real prospect of defeat.

    If 54/46 or 53/47 in favour of No in poll after poll during the last couple of weeks of the campaign (even if we accept that the Yes poll was a rogue) strike you as strong grounds for intransigence in political game-play John, then you are either braver or more naïve than I thought. You should also bear in mind that the government knew a lot more about the situation on the ground than the BBC-watching British public did. When about two thousand very angry people rallied outside the BBC offices in Glasgow on the Sunday before the vote, they knew something was going very, very wrong. This wasn’t even Yes campaign co-ordinated activity, this was bottom-up spontaneous stuff. The state broadcaster’s HQ in Scotland was effectively being sieged by a ‘mob’…

    The government had played all its cards (Obama, Beckham and the Queen to boot) and the Yes side was still in the game, and being in the game was still too much of a threat to the state going into the final week. It was never enough for No to just win 51/49. You do understand that don’t you John? Even the current 55/45 is something of a humiliation in the circles where UK PLC endeavours to operate. “Resounding victory” may wash in BBClandia, but the world’s capitals are saying “skin of teeth”. I suspect even Whitehall mandarins would accept Wellington’s “close run affair” as being nearer the truth.

    Along with ‘shock and awe’, the Devo Max ‘vow’ was absolutely crucial in keeping the critical 4%-5% of No voters on side in the last week. The irony? Everyone was saying that 2 years ago but the British establishment was too proud to concede then. A lesson Mr Cameron has now learnt I suspect.

  23. It seems that its not over. Scottish Nationalists now claim organised and concerted vote rigging both at the count, where video footage shows YES ballots being allocated to NO piles, and by personation.

    The safest thing would be to have a recount in selected areas otherwise this theory will fester and cause unrest. YES are not in the mood to accept that they were fairly beaten.

  24. Is anyone really that surprised at the backsliding on more powers, as Roger Scully said in the podcast and I agree with him that it’s politically difficult for the 3 UK parties to deliver meaningful change that would satisfy the four constituent parts of Britain.

    The main reason is the UK is the most centralised state in the world and it didn’t happen by accident, Westminster politicians are reluctant to give up any power without a fight and Labour and the Conservatives don’t believe in devolution, they simply used it as Jeff Jones said to neutralise Welsh, Scottish and NI Nationalism, not a good basis for political reform. As for the Lib Dems they have be talking about federalism since Lloyd George’s time and not made much progress.

    And while the 3 UK party leaders know they can get away with not delivering for Wales, in England a UK Cabinet committee has already been set up to look at constitutional issue, in Scotland the YES campaigners are already looking at ways they can turn their strength into a formal political voice to keep the pressure on Westminster.

    As for Wales our First Minister needs to up his game, as do the whole political class, but we the people of Wales need to get more active and engaged in the political process and make our voices heard so that our politicians know what to fight for on our behalf.

  25. I read with interest that Paul Silk argued at a recent IWA event that in Wales we lacked politicians with either leadership qualities or vision. Sadly the last 48 hours seems to confirm that observation. Some of Carwyn Jones ‘ comments I find frankly bizarre. How anyone can believe that the NO vote signals ‘the end of the old union’ is rather odd given the failure of the yes campaign in 28 out of the 32 Scottish local government areas. The Ashcroft poll also suggests that most of those voting no had already made up their mind before the off the top of the head promise in the Daily Record by the three UK Party Leaders. Where YES did win in Scotland was in traditional Labour area such as Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.

    It was a vote by thousands of traditional Labour voters against the political establishment and a clear rejection of the view that a Labour win next May would make any difference to their lives. You could argue that it is not a crisis of unionism but a crisis of Labourism particularly in its traditional heartlands. Don’t take my word for it . Look at this quoted from Douglas Alexander “The overwhelming emotion was distrust and hatred of politicians.” Wales is not immune from this anti politics mood as the European election results clearly showed. The manoeuvres of the last 48 hours clearly show that professional politicians still don’t get it. Forget about principles it is still all about how will any change effect my individual position and how will my party be able to put one over the other side. Unfortunately for the politicians they are seen too often by too many voters as the problem and not part of the solution. We need to reengage voters in deciding the future course of the UK and that is a key point which nationalist with a big N or a small n such as Carwyn Jones seem to forget. This isn’t just about 4 ‘autonomous nations’ or getting more money for Wales.

    This is about the future of the UK It is about developing a system of government for for the 21st century and which will have the support of the people who really matter. the electorate. How to achieve this? In my view the answer lies in by passing the politicians. Only 1% of us are members of political parties for a start. Political parties as the last few years clearly show at all levels of government lack the ideas and personnel needed for radical change. Short termism dominates so much of UK political life. Let’s have a real constitutional convention but it has to be one which contains no politicians or even members of political parties, We need a 21st century Self Denying Ordinance. The convention should not be dominated by the great and the good and chosen by politicians. Instead convention members should be selected by the random method we use to select juries. This real People’s Convention would be given the task of drawing up a constitution fit for the 21st century for the whole of the UK. We might even be surprised at some of the ideas that ordinary people might have to improve politics and the lives of their fellow citizens. This new constitution would then need to be approved by a referendum not in one part of the UK but by voters in every part of the UK.

  26. Phil, anyone can check the polling for themselves:,_2014

    Note that the poll which triggered the panic is against trend and based on a relatively small sample.

    Your thesis that ‘the Government knows things we do not’ is, with respect, more than a little naive. The problem with the leaderships of all three Westminster parties is not only that they are very inexperienced but also that they insist on surrounding themselves with other youngsters. Each of them should have at least one grizzled veteran in the inner circle who can lay a fatherly hand on the shoulder of a nervous young leader and say quietly, ‘Steady, lad.’

  27. There are two contexts that need to be borne in mind when considering a response to the Referendum result, the first is constitutional, the second political. The referendum result is decisive and has settled the constitutional question for a generation.

    The political context is however far from stable and yet it is one of the purposes of constitutional law to give stability to politics so that policy can be debated and decided upon within a reasonable framework.

    The response of the Westminster parties has revealed what little depth there is to their understanding of constitutional issues that it has so rapidly become a political football. David Cameron attempted to link the issue of Devo Max to the question of English votes for English laws. Labour’s criticism of this was that this was not published in “the vow” and was a disingenuous way of solving a problem that is rising within Tory ranks. I think that this criticism is fair. They are distinct issues that require distinct solutions. In tne meantime, David Cameron has sought to decouple the issue given the potential it has for a successful Yes vote next time round.

    However Labour’s position on the English votes issue is bizarre to say the least, if not deeply cynical. It is simply that it does not intend to recognise England as a political entity. I’ve a feeling that the English will have something to say about that. His latest position is that English MPs will have greater scrutiny over English legislation but that the final vote will be in the hands of MPs from the four nations. In other words, the English who are the largest population, will have to ask permission from the Celtic fringe for the right to pass legislation which affects only them. There is a certain irony to that position but it is quite clearly a democratic nonsense. Miliband would clearly rather steer the debate back to bread and butter issues such as the minimum wage. But he is increasingly looking like a latter day Canute but without the self-awareness of the original king.

    Miliband is not a popular figure in Scotland such that the old guard of Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown had to be wheeled out to save the day with their hastily drawn up deal of which we have yet to see the details. But he is now in danger of making himself just as unpopular in England by refusing to support English democracy for what is quite clearly party political purposes.

    The essential point is this. The Labour Party does not understand England which is why they are unable to recognise England as a nation and why they do not feel confident that they could win there and avoid the West Lothian question. The Tories, by way of contrast, invented England and have never really lost control of it except occasionally. They are quite confident of winning a majority and of seeing off UKIP if an English Parliament were to emerge which, I admit, does not look likely at present.

    As Carwyn Jones rightly stated, the union as was is now dead. The question is whether it can be remade. Yet all the signs are that Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet persist in their denial that there is a problem that requires a constitutional solution for England. There is no England in their view only Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle et al.

    And here we need to come back to the question of political context. This whole situation has arisen because Westminster has forgotten the art of listening and it almost resulted in the death of the Union. If they cannot listen to that, then there are the results, such as Glasgow, which tell them what will happen next time. 45% is a pretty strong base from which to move towards the next stage. It will only take a 6% swing.

  28. What London politicians don’t realise (but we in Wales do) is that Nationalism is insatiable. You don’t throw it a bone which it quietly gnaws for a decade or two. And if you throw it the whole carcass that isn’t going to keep it quiet much longer than the bone. And if it has a carcass then logic demands that it has a whole herd…..

    Devolution was always the bone that set in train the journey to the present state of affairs. The Union won the war and is now determined to lose the peace because they do not have the perception nor courage to refuse to be bullied by less than half the Scots and a paltry 10% of Wales.

    This is an interesting take on the debacle….”It’s Yougov wot lost it!”

  29. Another thought has occurred to me after listening to Jim Murphy being interviewed by Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics. As a performance in intellectual clarity, it left a lot to be desired. He twisted and turned on the question of English votes for English laws and even compared Scots MPs voting on the NHS and English Education system to London MPs voting on transport policy in Yorkshire. He insisted that all would be dealt with at the constitutional convention after the UK general election.

    This suggests to me that conceding EVfEL is intended to be a bargaining chip at such a convention. It is clearly indefensible that MPs from another jurisdiction should be able to vote on matters outwith their concern. And it is quite clear that the only reason for this delay is the effect on the Labour Party’s ability to command an English majority on a UK mandate.

    So if you’re going to have to give it up or make concessions on it, they will expect something in return. the question is what?

  30. The Westminster politicians should have followed this Guy:
    Personally I don’t mind Scots, English, N.Irish politicians debating matters that relate only to Wales. Nor do I think that it shouldn’t work the other way round. We have to assume that we will get the best decisions from the most talented politicians irrespective of where in the UK they come from. This petty, ethnic view of the constituent parts of Britain is tiresome and objectionable.

  31. I also don’t mind politicians having their say on Wales from wherever in the world. What is objectionable is someone deciding on such matters when they have not stood for election to the particular legislature responsible. This is simply a question of democracy. J Jones makes a strange argument when he implies there is something internationalist about imposing your will on other societies without a mandate to do so.

    For the record, the identities referred to are civic and not ethnic. There’s nothing quick so pointless as attacking an argument that has not been put.

  32. A battle in Scotland has been lost, the war is far from over, enough voters in Scotland were misled by Project Fear and Labour’s lies to vote for the status quo. The independence campaign has not and will not go away.
    The “YES” campaign only needs another six percent of the voters to change their minds. It is said 10,000 people have joined the SNP since the vote. The SNP are very high in the opinion polls. Watch this space.

  33. That’s right Keith Parry! Just another 20 years to wait and independence will be right back on the agenda. Perhaps you and other separatists could actually contribute something useful to society in the meantime though eh? Now there’s a thought

  34. Go for it Keith! as long as Nationalists are flying the “Independence” banner from their flag pole they are attracting 3% of the population and repelling 97%. (ICM poll 24th Sept)

    Watch Plaid distance itself from the “I” word and revert to “…A long term aspiration (no need to frighten the horses)”. No. from now on its Devocreep all the way…..all the way until the run-up to the GE when the papers will once again follow the Tories and hold up Welsh Assembly failures as a “frightener” to potential Labour voters. At that point support for further Devolution will slump again.

    Don’t Plaid wish they had listened to Lord DET!!

  35. Roger @
    “Nationalism is not dead, because British Nationalism is alive and kicking.”

    Kicking, certainly. We saw a lovely bunch of patriotic True Brits, literally wrapped in the Union Jack, putting the boot in in George Square, Glasgow the other night. Bet that made you proud to be British, at least as long as you looked the other way when they were doing their Nazi salutes.

    A week is a long time in politics so we’re told. The week is not yet out and the SNP has doubled it’s membership to become the third largest party in the UK. Not so much stone dead as galvanised. “It’s alive! It’s ALIVE!” 🙂

  36. we should just split the UK up into England..Scotland..Wales..N.Ireland…each independent and raising its own finances and spending it as they see fit..proper borders..some still in the EU…some not…so the rules that apply to EU members…will not apply to those that aren’t…..c’mon give England a vote for independence..then the anti English celts can have a love in…

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