Scots voted No to independence by 55 per cent to 45 per cent in Thursday’s historic poll. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond resigned as the political classes of Holyrood Palace and Westminster manoeuvred in the wake of Scotland’s nail-biting independence referendum.
In the wake of the defeat, Salmond said it was time for Scotland and the SNP [a Scottish nationalist and social-democratic political party] to have a new leader who could take the devolution process forward.
“We lost the referendum vote but can still carry the political initiative,” he said.
“More importantly, Scotland can still emerge as the real winner.”
His decision came as Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband struggled to seize the initiative on constitutional change following a month of frenetic promise-making to try and secure more No votes.
Under pressure from many of his right-wing Tory backbenchers, Mr. Cameron linked new powers for Scotland with restrictions on Scottish MPs voting on non-Scottish bills in Westminster [Parliament].
He said: “We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard.
“The question of English votes for English laws, the so-called West Lothian Question, requires a decisive answer so just as Scotland will vote separately on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues.
“All this must take place in tandem with and at the same pace as the settlement for Scotland.”
House of Commons Leader William Hague will draw up the plans, with the same November deadline as the detailed proposals on powers for Scotland.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said his party would look at any proposals the Prime Minister came forward with – but called for a full constitutional convention to deliver change across Britain.
Speaking ahead of this year’s Labour Conference, Mr. Miliband pledged to deliver powers promised to Scotland during the referendum campaign.
He said: “This referendum has changed Scotland. But it will also change Britain.
“We know there is deep anger across the UK with Westminster politics from so many people who feel left out and left behind – that our country doesn’t work for them.”
Scottish Labour Campaign for Socialism chairman Vince Mills welcomed the promise of new powers for Scotland but urged Labour to be cautious about accepting the timescale which Mr. Cameron is setting out.
“Giving new powers to Scotland in short order is fair enough,” he said. “But the Better Together parties didn’t say they were going to try to resolve all the problems of the British constitution on the same timetable.”
Union leaders representing hundreds of thousands of Scots yesterday urged the Westminster parties to make good on their referendum pledge of change.
Unite [Britain’s largest trade union] general secretary Len McCluskey said the Westminster parties had witnessed a “seismic shift in the political culture of these isles, one that must surely hasten the day we can say goodbye to the ruinous political consensus of the past 40 years which has not served our people.”
He warned Labour leaders: “People want change, genuine change – please listen, understand these calls and heed them.”
On Wednesday, the day of the referendum, Morning Star ran an editorial, starting with these paragraphs:
However Scotland votes today, one thing is certain – the British state has lost the trust and confidence of its peoples.
The Morning Star does not support Scottish separatism. Many contributors to our pages have explained why – the constitutional fix on offer does not challenge or weaken the power of capital owned and organised at a British and international level, but runs a very serious risk of dividing and weakening the labour movement and its organisations.
But as other columnists of ours from the pro-independence left have amply demonstrated, the referendum debate has energised a people determined to strike a blow against a pampered Westminster elite.
Click here for the full editorial.