Tensions have been riding high in Scotland since the result of the Independence Referendum were announced on Friday morning. The Yes campaigners have begun to look up from licking their wounds to see the promises of further powers for Scotland’s devolved parliament beginning to fall away. There is an increasing uneasiness on the No side of things too, as many No voters cast their ballot to stay in the United Kingdom under the impression that promises on so-called “devo-max” would be met by all three Unionist parties.
In a statement on Friday morning the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that he would remain committed to increasing powers to the various devolved administrations across the United Kingdom. Cross-party support for this measure, however, quickly fell apart as Labour leader Ed Miliband said that the Labour Party would not sign up to the Prime Minister’s devolution plans and that any discussion of increased powers for Scotland would have to wait until a constitutional convention in the Autumn of 2015.
David Cameron also appeared to backtrack on his proposals after, during a telephone conversation with Alex Salmond, it was revealed that the Prime Minister said he would not commit to a second reading of the proposed Scotland Bill in March of 2015 as previously promised, calling it a “meaningless process”.
Meanwhile, as the Unionist parties are going their separate ways, Labour appears to be split as Gordon Brown remains confident that a draft Scotland Bill will be ready by January of 2015. This is in line with the timetable announced by Ed Miliband on the 8th of September, ten days before the referendum. The aim was to have the legislation put through in the first legislative week of the new parliament in June of 2015 and to have it written into the first Queen’s speech of the new term.
Better Together, the cross-party organisation campaigning in favour of Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom, also appears to have failed on its promises. A leaflet circulated by the Better Together campaign said that the day after a “No” vote a motion would be tabled in the parliament to formalise the timetable for securing increased powers for Scotland.
So far, no motion has been put forward by any party, let alone tabled as a motion in the Commons.
Apart from the fact that no timetable has been alluded to at all (apart from Mr. Brown’s which doesn’t appear to be in line with what his party is saying) frustration is also beginning to build at the lack of any kind of details as to what new powers would actually be devolved to Scotland. So far no pro-Union party or group has published any concrete details of further devolution, new powers, or even a hint at what they might be.
Following the No campaigns announcement of the proposed plans in the week before the actual ballot of the referendum, many Yes supporters are of the opinion that it swayed the final result in favour of a No vote. To many it seemed odd that the Westminster parties, that had fought tooth and nail to keep the option of further devolution off the ballot paper would so suddenly throw all of their weight behind it. By and large it was seen as a last minute panic as polls began to suggest that Yes would come out as the winners. And now it appears that it did work, allowing the No camp to claw back the few percentage points it needed to win.
But now a growing number of No voters who voted against independence on the promise of increased powers are beginning to fear that they may have had the wool pulled over their eyes.
The Yes campaign has now mobilised to fight for continued devolution and most of them have not given up their passion for eventual full independence. With many groups such as “We are the 45%” springing up hoping to continue the struggle, it would appear that the hope of the Unionists that the Yes campaign would simply dissolve was a false one. Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are mounting calls for increased devolution, including for the regions of England, and for federalisation of the United Kingdom. Anyone hoping to maintain the status-quo now has a serious fight on their hands
With the days beginning to creep by with no further announcements of when our promised change, frustrations are beginning to boil over.
There is now a new movement in Scotland, Yes and No voters are beginning to unite in their push for those promised powers. If they are not achieved, could another referendum be around the corner? Perhaps, National Collective, the organisation of artists and other members of the creative industries supporting a Yes vote, seems to think so. In their statement, released this morning, they said that “If these promises fail to transpire, we will seek to secure a date for the next referendum on Scottish independence.”
Jim Sillars went one step further during his tour around the country following the release of his book “In Place of Fear 2”, saying that independence for Scotland was “inevitable”.
However, whether or not we see another referendum in our time, one thing is quite certain; should the Westminster élite attempt to brush this matter under their hand-made Persian rug in the hope that the movement for change dies away and we all retreat to the political shadows, they will be in for quite a shock. Surely if there is one thing most people in these isles know it is never to piss off a Scot, Nigel Farage can testify there!
If the Westminster parties truly have Scotland’s interests at heart, they’ll need to get a move on and fulfil their rapidly crumbling promises. The result if they don’t will be a greater anger from Scots than ever.