Friday, 19 September 2014

reflecting on the Scottish referendum: Scotland has decided, and further powers will be devolved.

I voted yesterday, in the Scottish independence referendum. 

It seems like the campaigning about it has been going on for at least a year, and the wait for the referendum itself has been going on for as long as I have lived in Scotland (and probably much longer than that).

I know a lot of people enjoyed the debate, and a lot of people have been glad to see public interest in politics. Personally I thought it was a shame that both campaigns used negativity. There were good reasons to vote both ways, and I would rather have seen those highlighted. Instead, both sides were guilty of scaremongering, both sides have accused the other of lying, and it's really hard for people to know what's true.

There's a lot of distrust of Westminster based politicians in Scotland, and with good reason. Scotland, like many other parts of the United Kingdom, is widely overlooked, and was memorably used as a test bed for the poll tax in the past. Obviously that test didn't work so well, because they rolled the poll tax out. Oops. Now lots of people are finding it hard to believe that Westminster politicians will live up to their promises of more devolved power.

Anyway, Scotland has spoken, and decided to remain in the union. But a large minority wanted independence, and they are understandably upset this morning. That large minority may not have won the referendum, but it is because of them that Westminster has promised increased devolution. They should be proud of themselves for that.

This morning some right wing Westminster politicians are decrying the devolution of further powers to Scotland, and they are entitled to their opinion. Further devolution will be negotiated, and will not just be to Scotland. Wales should also get more powers, and it is right that England will have things which only English MPs can vote on, especially if we are to disentangle our welfare systems. I am really excited about what further devolution might look like, and glad that David Cameron has talked about giving more powers to cities too. I think that if the UK gets this right (and that is going to take a lot of talking, and some compromise), we could provide a template for other countries. One about working together, respecting opinions, and being inclusive.

There are hurt feelings on both sides this morning - Yes voters because they had hoped for a chance to do things differently, and they don't trust Westminster politicians; English unionists because they just like things the way they are. I hope we can overcome those differences in the weeks and months ahead, and work together, to make things better for everyone.

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