The nays have it. When over 4 million Scottish voters turned out yesterday to determine the fate of England and Scotland’s tumultuous union, they said No to independence. So what happens now?
Well already there has been an increase in the value of the pound as a result of the lead established by, and eventual victory of, the no vote earlier this morning. Businesses, which had previously been withholding spending in the UK incase of a Yes vote, let go of the proverbial purse strings when the threat of businesses, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, relocating to England in the result of a yes vote had been assuaged.
As well as this, further devolution of powers to Scotland was the primary focus of David Cameron’s speech today, which included more power over tax raises and spending within Scotland. However in light of the tight result, 55.4% no to 44.5% yes, Alex Salmond is likely to demand more form Westminster than originally agreed in the coming weeks. This follows his withdrawal from the position of Frist Minister, which is due to come in to effect in November. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, expressed a clear desire to see the promises made to Scotland fulfilled, stating that no one was going to ‘sit back and allow politicians to renege on their promises’.
The Queen is also expected to release a written statement late, following a comment earlier in the week where she expressed hopes that voters would ‘think very carefully about the future’, which was taken by No campaigners to be a show of support for the union.
But it’s not just Scotland who are gaining new powers as a result of this referendum. This morning David Cameron announced plans to devolve power to England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well, whereby only people of that nationality will be able to vote on issues that effect that country exclusively.
Perhaps one of the most significant outcomes of the no vote, in terms of future British politics, is that Labour have not had to say good-bye to their majority seats. Scotland holds 1 Conservative seat in comparison to 41 Labour seats, which would have resulted in a, potentially, indefinite Conservative government had Scotland left the UK.
Yet even though the votes have already been cast, some of us southerners are probably a little confused as to how this all came about in the first place. The referendum is not a new idea; it has been in the works since the SNP included it in their election manifesto in 2007. But while the SNP won the election, they did not win enough seats to govern without support of the other political parties on matters like independence, and when a bill was put forward in 2010 it did not gain enough support and so it was withdrawn. But in 2011, the SNP won enough seats in the general election to govern Scotland alone, which meant they were able to successfully put forward a bill for Scottish Independence. The bill was officially passed in June 2013, resulting in yesterday’s referendum and today’s celebrations from the no campaign.
While the Yes and Better Together campaigns have fought hard against one another in the last year, in the aftermath of the no vote there is something both sides can agree on: yesterday marked a change in British democracy. There is a feeling of renewed faith that an individuals voice can be heard, which will hopefully be confirmed with Westminster’s delivery of their promises to Scotland. Perhaps a higher turn out in Glasgow and Dundee would have brought the vote a little closer, but at quarter to six this morning Scotland spoke, and it said no.