IndyRef: A new dispensation

The returning officer for Fife declared at 06.09am and he stated that 114,148 votes had been cast for YES, but 139,788 for NO.

That put NO over the winning line.

The Better Together campaign had triumphed by a margin of 55% to 45%.

On a turnout of 86% that means that 1.6million people in Scotland voted for independence on September 18th 2014.

Moreover the cities of Dundee and Glasgow voted YES.

However, the rest of the country rejected the proposition that Scotland should be an independent country.

In the final days of the campaign the three leaders of the main Westminster parties joined together to make a ‘vow’ to the Scots that if they rejected independence then additional powers would be granted to the Holyrood parliament.

Moreover they promised that these changes would be quickly enacted.

This seems to have been done largely on the hoof by Cameron, Clegg and Miliband without very much consultation with their backbenchers.

This seems especially true for the Conservatives.

To many observers it looked desperate and panicked as the momentum seemed to be with Yes Scotland.

It now remains to be seen what additional powers, if any, will be delivered to Holyrood.

I had written elsewhere that a narrow NO victory was the messiest of all possible outcomes for the Westminster political elite.

A 55-45% victory is within my definition of ‘narrow’.

Almost half of Scottish people voted to leave the United Kingdom and the country’s greatest city voted for independence.

These are facts.

The Labour party were the main local force in the victorious Better Together effort.

In Dundee and Glasgow they may find that the electorate, defeated in the referendum, will make their presence felt at the ballot box in the next Holyrood election.

Moreover Prime Minister Cameron will find that the promises he hastily made in the final days of the campaign will now be called in.

This point was emphasized by First Minister Alex Salmond when he made his concession speech a few minutes after the Fife result was declared.

He stated that he would contact Prime Minister Cameron after he had finished his speech and then he would hold a press conference later today to reflect on that conversation.

Scotland remains within the United Kingdom for now, but the details of the deal with Westminster are about to be altered by realpolitik.

That means that the totality of relationships within these islands are about to get a wee nudge.

  • Robin Keogh

    I think the real trouble is about to kick off,. Cameron pretty much said in his speech that England Wales and the north will have to be included in a new decentralised dispensation. While that might be manageable for most regional political authorities I am not convinced Stormont is up for the job in its current state. Whilst nationalists will be happy to see as much power as possible transferred, Unionists might struggle with the prospect of floating futher away from westminister not to mention the difficulties already apparrent between DUP and SF. We are in for an exciting few months.

  • AndyB

    55-45 is exactly what I’ve been predicting, although my final public prediction was 52-55% as I thought it could have been tighter. I reckoned it would be no more than 55%.

    In principle, I support Scottish independence as a concept – I mean, why shouldn’t they be independent if that should ever be the people’s choice? – but in hard reality, I’m incredibly relieved that it’s not going to be much more difficult for GB to kick the Tories out next year.

  • AndyB

    Some of the things, like delegating social security, are likely to be illusory. Westminster has ways of punishing regions monetarily for breaking rank eg over welfare reform.

    I can’t see many further powers being devolved to NI. It’s too likely that Cameron will call Robbo’s bluff and pull the plug instead.

  • Robin Keogh

    SF and the SDLP should take a leap and jointly petition London to have the Norths Assembly and powers redesigned as a mirror image of Scotlands

  • Reader

    The difference is that the Scottish Parliament functions properly, and the Northern Ireland Assembly doesn’t. I blame SF, though the DUP are little better.
    (Andy B – I think the problem over welfare reform is that it isn’t actually a devolved matter. Hence the punishment. In contrast, whenever Stormont messes up in matters that are devolved it is ignored by Westminster)

  • kensei

    Thought the process was an inspiration and 45% a lot more than I’d have predicted a month agao, and Glasgow went yes. Irish Republicans wouldn’t pull near 45% for a UI at the moment and for all the different circumstances they need to seriously think about how they can be more like the Scottish Yes campaign.

    It’ll be interesting to see what is in the mystery box. The legislation will be in place by January but will probably not be voted on until the next Parliament. What if there is a ton of UKIP MPs? Will backbench Tories or Labour really hounour it? What does this mean for an EU referendum?

    Interesting times.

  • MalikHills

    I called it 57/43 so I was a bit over-optimistic but seriously, the result was never really in doubt.

  • MalikHills

    Remember Quebec? For decades all anyone knew about Quebec was that it was seething in discontent under the heel of British Canadian oppression. They got the vote and it turns out the silent majority were perfectly happy with their lot in Canada. Never hear much about Quebec separatism now do you?
    For the past quarter century of more (during which time I lived for periods in Scotland) all we heard from the Bravehearts was how the union was all over bar the shouting. Strutting in their kilts and Doc Martens, braying out “Flower of Scotland” it was a dead cert that “FREEDUUUMMM!!!!” was just around the corner.
    And now this, the whimper.
    I think a period of quiet from Scotland will be in order now for a generation or two.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you, Reader, for pointing out the problematic issues ability to function and of what is and what is not devolved to the clutches of our local masters! I’ve never been any fan of centralisation, but when I think about what these sinister clowns up on the hill might achieve with more devolved powers…….

    And Robin, while I, too, “am not convinced Stormont is up for the job in its current state” this is entirely due to the kind of people that are elected. Similar co-operative systems function in places such as Switzerland well enough. Until we are mature enough to begin to select people who are balanced enough to handle power sensibly, we will always end up with the politics of the junior schoolyard. We use abstract concepts in order to discuss these things, but should never become trapped in the fallacy of attributing an actual agency to these abstractions such as assemblies or parliaments. No manner of organisation can be more “able” more than the human beings who comprise it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m told that the divide has a strong element of age as well as wealth. If so I fail to see how we could expect that “a period of quiet from Scotland will be in order now for a generation or two”

    And 45% a “wimper”…….

  • barnshee

    “I think the real trouble is about to kick off,. Cameron pretty much said in his speech that England Wales and the north will have to be included in a new decentralised dispensation”

    The “fringes” are dependent on taxpayer largesse to a greater or lesser degree This is a golden opportunity for England to slough off these costs- You want “devo max” ? Off you go -fiscal powers ? off you go Responsibility for welfare?-certainly

    PS there is no additional money available from the centre.
    A sharp dose of accountability all round will be very, very welcome

  • MalikHills

    Honestly Seaan, I listened to them for years bawling and braying that they’d soon be free of 300 years of English tyranny and they’d create a new, scintillating, progressive, modern Scotland that would be the envy of the world and would put England to shame.
    After voting in SNP with an overall majority it all should simply have been a formality, especially with a 90% turn-out.
    And what was on offer? Independence? No, a milk and water Home Rule that kept the Queen, the NHS , the Pound, the BBC and all the other goodies they could keep from English tyranny.
    And still they rejected it, mate, that’s a whimper. there’s no dressing up the defeat, the Bravehearts bottled it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hiya, MalikHills, I actually have my own reservations, especially about the ability of professional politicians of any hue to be, well, other than “professional politicians!”

    My own thoughts on the motives of the “NO”ers is over on the “Rebellious Scots Crushed: Salmond (and others) sent home to think again” thread, although to a greater or lesser extent, I tend to think that every representative system can call on a degree of Stockholm syndrome from its victims, in common with less democratic societies, but then I cut my teeth on Prince Kropotkin and Herbert Marcuse……..

    And I’m far from uncritical of “youth led by youth” in any polity!

  • MalikHills

    Did you ever publish that book?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear! I suppose that when Stormont is given tax raising powers, and the 70% subsidy (direct and indirect) of our incomes is snapped back to Westminster, then we will all have to fend for ourselves on what taxes can be raised from what thin strands of real profitability actually exists here! Goodbye welfare, goodbye National Health, goodbye farm subsidies………..

    Back to the stone age then, a bit like those scary “barbarian” sequences in “The Shape of Things to Come.”

    On the positive side, less 4x4s everywhere in the wee six!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The Jacobite war in Ireland book? Still with my agent!

    Of course my only interest in Scottish independence was the possibility that they might just see reason finally and invite Francis II to return to Holyrood, although I would feel for the poor man having to look out on that strange curving wall and all those metal rods trying to look “modern” and “arty”…..

  • AndyB

    Hmm. To the best of my knowledge welfare is devolved to NI in theory, although the principle of parity does normally apply (subject to things like the bedroom tax.)

    The main effect is on the block grant, which is adjusted by Westminster hypothecated on the costs which Westminster deems should apply – in this case, the situation post welfare reform. Of course, DFP can use the block grant as they please and should theoretically be at liberty to follow a more expensive policy in any devolved matter provided the difference is made up out of the Executive’s own resources (ie spending distribution different from the profile in the equivalent areas in GB – not necessarily cuts, as not privatising can save on those costs, for example – or an increase in the Regional Rate).

    The dodgy bit is the punishment whereby the block grant appears to be in payment at a lower rate than would apply had welfare reform been passed – presumably the Treasury can pretty much allocate as they please regardless of Barnett.

    I do agree that as things stand, though, such powers would be wasted on the Assembly we elect and the Executive it appoints.

  • barnshee

    “I’m told that the divide has a strong element of age as well as wealth. If so I fail to see how we could expect that “a period of quiet from Scotland will be in order now for a generation or two”

    The Nats (cynically one might say) lowered the voting age-impressionable youth and all that – I suspect that was this reflected in the “yes” vote. Unfortunately people grow up –sometimes in every sense. Didnae work then–. bring the voting age down to 12?

  • Muiris de Bhulbh

    The triumph of fear over hope, of the establishment elites over egalitarianism, and mostly of capitol over community. Gan Amharas tiochfaidh bhur lá arís

  • MalikHills

    Francis II, he’s the Bavarian chap isn’t he? The Stuarts’ current pretender, I mean what could possibly go wrong having a descendant of Mad King Ludwig as your head of state?

    Did you ever read Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August”? She describes how Rupprecht of Bavaria with great style and elan led the German forces into France 100 years ago, he was a direct descendant of his namesake Prince Rupert of the English Civil War and was very proud of his heritage, alas for all his dash he was ultimately as successful on the field as most Stuarts were.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Rather than a descendant of Mad King George III? Or his son “Prinny”, who regularly had too be reminded by the Duke of Wellington that he had not actually led the English army at Waterloo, let alone who he was married to……..oh, I forgot, Prinny was a dead end……

    “God bless the King, I mean the faith’s defender,
    God bless, no harm in blessing, the “Pretender,”
    But who Pretender is and who is king,
    God bless us all that’s quite another thing….”

    Perhaps we will have to wait until his grandson comes of age, the first monarch of the legitimate line, to have been born in London since James III.

    And regarding that dig about Rupert, the usurpers are hardly shining examples of military ability, unlike Charles III, who, as Prince of Wales trounced the cabbage Kings army over and over again in 1745. Oh for what might have been!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Is that you, Harry………..?

  • Zeno1

    Best hope is that global warming really kicks in and we can become a Banana Republic.

  • SeaanUiNeill


  • Zeno1

    lol, sorry should have said a real banana republic with real bananas.

  • jockybhoy

    @muiris : the triumph of fact over fiction…