19 September, 2014

Scotland: the fallout

The Scots have voted and the nonsense level has reached what surely must be its peak.

The Spectator (and many others): 'we are in danger of dissolving the most successful political union in history.' No, think America, think Germany, think Switzerland. If ours was so successful 45% of one of its constituent parts wouldn't have voted to leave.

Cameron: 'the Scots have voted for a new constitutional settlement'. No, Davy, they voted to stay in the UK, the old settlement. Other leaders tried the same sort of tosh, aimed to cover up their spectacular own goal during the campaign.

Now the vote is over, Britain finds itself not at ease with itself, but in a rather difficult predicament. No one who knows the man will be surprised that the source of its predicament is Gordon Brown, disgraced former Prime Minister and the man with the anti-Midas touch.

Towards the end of the campaign, when people thought the Yes vote might win, Brown announced that he had been having a chat with some of his constituents (he didn't name them and we can be sure this was a lie) and there was support for a new constitutional settlement. The three party leaders in Britain all gave it their full support. It involves what is called devo-more. At the start of the campaign we could have got away with devo-lite, a modest amount of devolution if the Scots stayed in, then the price went up to devo-max and now it's even worse than that.

The three leaders and Mr Catastrophe had no right to offer what they did - the way we do constitutional change in Britain is through a vote in both houses of parliament then approval by the Queen - and now we are in the do-do.

The Scots can fairly say (even if it's not true) that they voted 'No' because of this offer. They will insist on it being fulfilled. But parliament won't approve it without equally generous terms for England. Of course that scuppers the timetable: it's going to take at least two years, whereas Catastrophe promised it for Burns' Night (25th January).

But if this looked like a bad night for Alex Salmond and David Cameron, think how Ed Miliband must be feeling. When Parliament insists on only English MPs voting on purely English matters, he is going to find that every time Cameron wants something done he just needs to say it's an English matter and he will have a majority. Miliband is frantically backtracking, but his Agreement to Catastrophe's plans have effectively meant the end of the Labour Party for the near future.

And while we are on the subject of who has done well or badly, has anyone in Britain come out of this feeling that our politicians and our media are fit for purpose?

I don't think so.

We have a long and difficult time ahead. The people don't like not knowing where they stand.

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