What happens if voters say NO? This question was on many lips when the Electoral Commission tested voters in December 2012. It posed a challenge to PM David Cameron to firm up his vague promise earlier in 2012 that voting No in the 2104 Independence referendum would not be the end of devolution to Scotland. If the polls start to rise for the YES side, we can expect this question – a pathway to more powers? – to become unavoidable. So it proved and The Vow emerged.
Three years on: Is the Smith Commission a good enough answer – for Scotland or Britain? Partially – it has produced ‘more devo’ broadly consistent with the referendum result. But the Commission didn’t capture within in its remit the reform of Britain and British issues like the economy, politics and broadcasting. Until they are dealt with in London, there can be no lasting solution which is why Smith is not enough.The future of the Union is in British hands giving initiatives like the growing City region devolution in England a wider British context.
Over twenty years, I have been involved in some way or other with five UK referendums – Scottish devolution, the Good Friday Agreement, the North East assembly, Voting reform and Scottish independence – and a further two – the euro and the EU constitution – that were abandoned but only after some groundwork had been done. This site is an attempt to draw lessons for future referendums from this unique experience.
The reform of Britain has been a lifelong interest. It is possible that independence though defeated, has broken the constitutional logjam in the UK and opened up the prospect of serious reform over the next few years. As these reforms are increasingly adopted by referendum, I follow developments from both points of view. More on me, More on the site, or contact me here.
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