In reality, Scotland independence vote wasn't even close
If the Scottish referendum result (55% No to 45% Yes) had been a US presidential election it would have been called a landslide. The bottom line is that the UK stays together and the matter is now settled for a generation. But what now for England?
If the Scottish independence vote had been a U.S. presidential election, it would have been called a landslide. Barack Obama's two victories, first against John McCain (53%-46%) and then against Mitt Romney (51-47) were both less clear cut than the 55-45 vote that the Scottish people registered in favour of remaining part of the UK.
Two-horse races are unusual in British politics. But make no mistake about it, this was decisive. And that is not just because of the difference between what the opinion polls and most of the pundits had for weeks been billing as an election that was "too close to call" and the actual result.
We also need to remember that Scots living in England and elsewhere were, incomprehensibly, denied a vote on the future of the country of their birth. Had they, perhaps 8-10 percent of the potential Scottish voting public, been allowed a say, it might have been well over 60 percent against.
Furthermore, it is highly likely that most Scots' real preference was not for full independence or the status quo, but for a greater devolution of power to Scotland within the UK.
That is what they should get, and according to the pledges from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, that is what they will get.
On Friday morning, Prime Minister Cameron emphasised and repeated that pledge. But he also said something else. The people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland should get the same kind of devolved powers as part of a new "balanced settlement" for everyone in the UK, not just the Scots.
The key to this is England, partly because the English are by far the largest part of the UK population. It's also because England, frankly, has been neglected. If it is right for Scotland to be able to run much of its taxation and spending policies (and it is) it's right for England too.
There'll be quite a battle over this. If Scottish members of the parliament in Westminister are no longer to be allowed to vote on English matters (a fair quid pro quo to further Scottish devolution) this will be a big boost to the political Right, since the voting power of Scotland, which veers strongly to the political Left, will be excluded.
Ultimately, the maths would help the Tories and hurt Labour. No prizes then for guessing which party is going to be reluctant to move towards more powers for England.
But that's all for later. The bottom line is that the votes are in, the result is clear, the matter is settled for a generation at least, and the UK will stay together.
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