15 September 2014: Westminster’s three main party leaders sign up to a historic joint statement that was demanded by the Daily Record on behalf of the people of Scotland.
The three main party leaders today promised that a No vote will mean a stronger Scottish Parliament and total protection for the NHS. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have signed up to a historic joint statement. In their own words, they pledge to work together to transfer more powers to Holyrood if Scots reject independence on Thursday. The Prime Minister, his Lib Dem deputy and the Labour leader also promise to ensure that no one other than the Scottish Parliament can cut vital public services such as the NHS.
The agreement was brokered by former prime minister Gordon Brown and Scottish Labour. It will give Scots who remain unsure about separation complete confidence that, if there is a No vote, Scotland will still be given much more control over its future. Brown has already outlined a fast-tracked timetable for transferring more powers from Westminster to Holyrood if Scots vote No. This new pledge means that all the parties with a chance of forming the next UK government have guaranteed the “extensive” new powers will be put on the statute book next year. The joint statement also rubbishes claims from the SNP that the Barnett Formula for calculating Scotland’s budget could be changed to leave us less money for public services. It pledges “Because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue, we can state categorically that the final say on how much is spent on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.”
Last night, Brown said more powers for Scotland are now “locked in” to a No vote on Thursday. And he said the agreement for a timetable for change that will reshape Scotland’s role in the Union is now backed up by a public pledge to deliver. Brown added “In the past few days, I have been travelling the country, speaking at more than 30 rallies and town hall meetings. I want to sum up what I have heard. People want change. Whether it is because global economic forces are making their jobs less secure, of inferior status, lower paid and restricting the opportunities for their children, or whether it is in response to concerns about the bedroom tax, food banks and the future of public services, it is absolutely clear that people want change.
But while change through the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1997 was the “settled will” of the Scottish people, it is clear that the nationalists’ proposal for change through independence is not. Not even the most ardent and optimistic nationalist would claim that there is an overwhelming majority for separation, as there was for devolution. I believe that there is, however, a programme of change that can bring the people of Scotland together. I sense that people want change that can unite Scotland, rather than divide Scotland. They want to know that a No vote does not mean no change and instead seek guarantees of change, locked in and clear assurances that from September 19, the pace of change will not stall but speed up. But they want a promise of change they can trust – without the risks and uncertainties of an irreversible separation.
I believe they are saying to us, Give us the guarantees of change and with these guarantees, we can vote for a strong Scottish Parliament within the UK. We have heard important statements in Glasgow on Friday by Ed Miliband and Scottish Labour Party leader Johann Lamont and in Aberdeen by the Prime Minister. I believe that tonight, having listened to what the pro-devolution parties are saying, we can give these guarantees, that lock in change that is better, faster, fairer and safer than anything the SNP can offer through independence. So let us lock in three guarantees that will deliver the best deal for a stronger Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. The guarantees that we now have pave the way to the future – a great Scotland as a driving, successful and vibrant nation playing its full part in Great Britain. I believe what I am saying locks in a period of constitutional improvement and progress in preference to the risk-laden and dangerous change offered from an irreversible separation from which there is no going back.”
Cameron backed the timetable for more powers in an emotional speech in Aberdeen yesterday. He told more than 800 party members and activists that the UK is not a “perfect country” and pledged to change it. The PM added: “The question is, how do you get that change? “For me it’s simple. You don’t get the change you want by ripping your country apart. You don’t get change by undermining your economy and damaging your businesses and diminishing your place in the world.” Cameron said the plans outlined by the pro-UK parties amounted to “real, concrete” change. He added: “The status quo is gone. This campaign has swept it away. There is no going back to the way things were. A vote for No means real change. We have spelled that change out in practical terms, with a plan and a process.
If we get a No vote, that will trigger a major, unprecedented programme of devolution, with additional powers for the Scottish Parliament – major new powers over tax, spending and welfare services. We have agreed a timetable for that stronger Scottish Parliament – a timetable to bring in the new powers that will go ahead if there is a No vote. A White Paper by November, put into draft legislation by January. This is a timetable that is now agreed by all the main political parties and set in stone and I am prepared to work with all the main parties to deliver this during 2015. So a No vote means faster, fairer, safer and better change.”
Cameron seemed close to tears as he made a direct appeal to Scots to vote No. He admitted that many people might be tempted by a Yes vote just to get rid of his Government. But he warned Scots not to “mix up the temporary and the permanent”. With his voice breaking, Cameron added: “Don’t think, I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back”. If you don’t like me, I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this Government, it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever. The different parts of the UK don’t always see eye-to-eye. Yes, we need change and we will deliver it. But to get that change, to get a brighter future, we don’t need to tear our country apart.” He asked Scots to consider what would provide the best future for them and their family when they cast their vote. Cameron said: “As you stand in thestillness of the polling booth, I hope you will ask yourself this – will my family and I truly be better off by going it alone? Will we really be more safe and secure? Do I really want to turn my back on the rest of Britain and why is it that so many people across the world are asking, ‘Why would Scotland want to do that? Why?’ And if you don’t know the answer to these questions – then vote No.” The Promises:
* New powers for the Scottish Parliament.
* Holyrood will be strengthened with extensive new powers, on a timetable beginning on September 19, with legislation in 2015.
* The Scottish Parliament will be a permanent and irreversible part of the British constitution.
* The guarantee of fairness to Scotland.
* The guarantee that the modern purpose of the Union is to ensure opportunity and security by pooling and sharing our resources equitably for our defence, prosperity and the social and economic welfare of every citizen, including through UK pensions and UK funding of healthcare.
* The power to spend more on the NHS if that is Scottish people’s will.
* The guarantee that with the continued Barnett allocation, based on need and with the power to raise its own funds, the final decisions on spending on public services in Scotland, including on the NHS, will be made by the Scottish Parliament.
* The Scottish Parliament will have the last word on how much is spent on health. It will have the power to keep the NHS in public hands and the capacity to protect it.
15 September 2014: David Cameron makes emotional plea to Scotland as independence vote looms
In an emotional speech on his last visit to Scotland before Thursday’s independence referendum, the prime minister warned that a yes vote would end the UK “for good, for ever” and would deprive the Scottish people of a shared currency and pooled pension arrangements. He also asked people not to mix up the temporary and the permanent, saying neither he nor the government would “be here forever”.
A Guardian/ICM poll shows that 63% of voters in England and Wales objected to the post-independence currency union sought by Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister. Most people in Scotland, previous polls have shown, want a deal on sterling. Cameron, whose voice was close to breaking, spelled out what he believed would be the costs of independence. “It is my duty to be clear about the likely consequences of a yes vote. Independence would not be a trial separation. It would be a painful divorce,” he said. He said he would be “utterly heartbroken” by a yes vote and listed the benefits of UK membership that the people of Scotland would lose, including a shared currency, armed forces built up over centuries and pension funds that would be sliced up “at some cost”. Independence would mean Scotland’s border with England – and the sea routes to Northern Ireland – would become international frontiers, Cameron said, and that more than half of Scottish mortgages would suddenly be provided by banks in a foreign country.
“We want you to stay,” he said. “Head and heart and soul, we want you to stay. Please don’t mix up the temporary and the permanent. Please don’t think: ‘I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back.’ “If you don’t like me – I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this government – it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever,” he said.
In the short term, Cameron has to decide whether to recall parliament in the event of a yes vote, as early as the weekend or next Monday, a move that would disrupt Labour’s annual conference in Manchester. Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, said Cameron’s speech “was the same litany of empty threats and empty promises we have come to expect from the no campaign – and he is the prime minister who has been orchestrating the campaign of ridiculous scaremongering being directed against Scotland. A yes vote would give Scotland its “one opportunity” to ensure it had job creation powers and end government by parties that Scottish voters did not elect, which presided over a vast increase in food banks and new nuclear weapons systems its politicians had rejected. Instead of believing the word of a Tory prime minister on a very few more powers, the people of Scotland can get all the powers we need to build a better, fairer country by believing in ourselves and voting yes,” he said.
Cameron’s comments came as Ed Miliband prepared for a return visit to central Scotland on Tuesday when the Labour leader is expected to try to woo back disillusioned Labour voters who have largely driven a late surge in support for independence. Taking the opposite tack to Cameron, his ally in the Better Together campaign, Miliband said he believed the yes campaign had delivered a clear message to UK parties that change was needed. He insisted Labour would be the best vehicle for unseating the Tories in 2015 and delivering more progressive policies. “The will of the people of Scotland for economic and political change has been heard and we will deliver,” he is expected to tell a rally. Contrasting his offer with “a future of separation and risk” offered by an irreversible yes vote, Miliband added: “I ask the people of Scotland to lead that change of our whole British constitution.”
That message risked being undermined by a Guardian ICM poll which showed Labour’s support has dipped by three points to 35% across the UK, bringing the Tories to within two points at 33%. The findings are likely to increase voter anxieties in Scotland that Labour could fail to beat the Tories next May. Miliband’s offers of further significant tax and welfare powers for Holyrood were challenged by one of Scotland’s leading campaigners for greater devolution. Writing for the Guardian, Ben Thomson, founder of campaign group Devo Plus, said he was close to voting yes to independence because he was so disappointed by the failure of the UK parties to make an ambitious, concrete offer for greater tax powers, beyond a promise to agree new powers next year.
In a further push by the no campaign, all three UK leaders – Cameron, Miliband and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader – signed a front page pledge in the Daily Record newspaper entitled “the vow”. It promised they would give the Scottish parliament a legal guarantee of its independence from Westminster and to protect the Treasury’s funding system, known as the Barnett formula. Along with a “categoric” statement that Holyrood had the final say on Scottish health service spending, both are major new commitments, pushed for by the paper after it accused the three leaders last week of making weak promises on devolution.
Giving Holyrood its own legal standing instead of having its power gifted to it and controlled by Westminster under Labour’s original devolution settlement in 1998 was a key demand of Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, earlier this year. The Scottish National party has repeatedly claimed that English and Welsh politicians would force Scotland to accept cuts or the loss of the Barnett formula if there was a no vote, accusing Westminster parties of being fickle.
Miliband is due to spend the rest of the week in Scotland, making a series of speeches in central Scotland and campaigning into polling day on Thursday, as Labour attempts to persuade its core vote to back the UK and to vote heavily in the referendum. Brown sought to bolster that offensive by insisting that his party’s plans to increase the tax powers and legal status of the Scottish parliament were “locked-in by a triple guarantee”. Brown said the three guarantees were that Holyrood would be given legal protection from meddling by Westminster, as well as extra powers; there would be a “clear statement of purpose for the UK guaranteeing fairness”; and a guarantee that Holyrood had the freedom to spend more on the NHS, using its new powers to set income tax rates.
On Monday the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international thinktank, warned that a yes vote was a potential risk to the global economy, the eurozone and emerging markets. Arguing that the UK was an important member of the group of rich countries, its secretary general, Angel Gurria, said: “We clearly believe that better together is perhaps the way to go.”
Property website Zoopla said a flood of homes being put up for sale in the event of a yes vote could lead to a repeat of a 17.5% fall in Scottish house prices, which took place during the financial crisis of 2008.
Albert Edwards, strategist at French bank Société Générale, questioned whether a yes vote could have wider implications across Europe. “The obvious market conclusion is for a weaker sterling – but a proper old fashioned crisis is plausible. But maybe that is too parochial a vision. The sequence of events which might flow from a yes vote may be as unpredictable and as uncontrollable as those of the late 1980s in eastern Europe, which led to the ultimate demise of the USSR,” said Edwards.
The White House reaffirmed on Monday its belief that it would be better for Scotland to stay in the UK. Press spokesman, Josh Earnest, repeated what President Obama said in Brussels earlier this year. “The president said that from the outside the US has a deep interest in ensuring that one of the closest allies that we’ll ever have remains strong, robust and united and an effective partner with the US. This is a decision for the people of Scotland to make; we certainly respect the right of the individual Scots to make a decision along these lines, but as the president said, we have an interest [pause] in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united,” Earnest said. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/15/david-cameron-emotional-plea-scotland-independence
18 September 2014: Experts say the “No” vote has resulted in political stability in the UK. “The union is like a damaged marriage” stated an anonymous Conservative MP
Despite Civil Service orchestrated baseless threats from companies like The Royal Bank of Scotland, to move operations to England in the event of a “Yes” vote, many Scots dismissed such threats as scaremongering. Furthermore, the Canadian example also suggests that the narrow “No” vote will prolong constitutional uncertainty, causing problems for businesses and jobs in Scotland.
Although Westminster promised to extend “home rule powers” to Edinburgh, the narrow majority of “No” votes will not end the discussion over Scottish independence and pro-independence voters will most likely seek a fresh mandate for a new referendum in a few years’ time, the so-called ‘never-endum’ scenario.
A YouGov poll revealed that almost two-thirds of people in Scotland are unsure what powers are to be devolved so the “no” voters have no idea of what “extensive new powers” Westminster promised. http://sputniknews.com/analysis/20140918/193047983.html
18 September 2014: The British state is an imperial behemoth that can only look on in panic as Scots scramble for the lifeboats
In Scottish city centres right now, you’re rarely out of sight of a yes badge. The vibe was summed up by an Edinburgh cabbie: “We’re being invited to run our country. It’s very exciting. Maybe we can show how things can be done differently”. It’s not just him. Polls have shown the yes vote surging. It’s worth noting how remarkable this is. The only UK party supporting independence is the Greens. Of all of the local Scottish and British papers, only the Sunday Herald backs yes. The official story has long been that it’s only a few angry men in kilts who care about this.
But in the internet age, officials don’t get to write the stories any more. There were always people who had little time for flags, tartanry and shortbread, but who wanted to escape a political system that has made Britain one of Europe’s most unequal counties. And it is these people – a better organised and vastly more powerful version of the occupy movement – that the Westminster parties and their media partners failed to consider.
It’s this movement that has mobilised thousands to come together at meetings and online to imagine and plan out a better country; which has spurred them into activism, often for the first time in their lives; which has laughed together at the arrogance of disconnected rulers; and which has learned together as it has gone along. It’s this movement that attracted my cabbie to the first, then second, then third political meetings of his life – all in the past month.
These people created their own media and founded their own organisations. They are young, energetic, enthusiastic, funny. They looked the British state straight in the eye and saw through its illusions. The hierarchies of a steeply unequal country reward loyalty and elite connections while punishing independence of mind. No wonder kids from “the regions” are running rings around the “gurus” of a floundering establishment.
It isn’t just about activist groups. Visiting one of Edinburgh’s gurdwaras with Scots Asians for Yes, the people I met were typical. Some were undecided; some were no. Most were yes. And what distinguished the yeses was this: they were discussing how to persuade relatives and friends. They collected data-filled booklets to talk through with their families. They had become Google and Twitter aficionados, digging out and sharing information that debunks the horror stories our politicians use to frighten us away from anynotion that another world is possible. With social media, Paul Mason once wrote, “truth moves faster than lies, and propaganda becomes flammable”.
It’s against this self-organised network that the British state is flagging. Research from Edinburgh University shows that the more information people have, the more likely they are to vote yes. In the face of mass peer-to-peer education, the puffed-up power of elites melts away: polls show most Scots no longer believe what Westminster MPs say. As David Cameron and George Osborne and Ed Miliband huff and puff and woo and cajole the people of Scotland, more and more simply look these politicians up and down, shrug, and say: “You have no power over us any more.”
It’s their own fault. Westminster’s parties have made conventional politics so bland that people barely pay attention. To win elections they have got used to flashing simplistic messages in front of our eyes – we don’t notice or care that we’re being patronised. And because they destroyed their pesky grassroots, they failed to spot that the referendum isn’t an election. People are paying attention, are thirsty for information, and don’t take kindly to their leaders treating them like idiots or trying to bully them.
Yet as the polls narrow, they offer a timetable to nowhere and fly from Downing Street a blue and white symbol of their utter failure to understand what’s happening. In a sense, this gets to the core of what the referendum is about. Because the vote on independence isn’t just about escaping Westminster’s supercharged neoliberalism – though it offers that chance too. There’s also a different story of the modern age here: the network v the hierarchy. Do Scots want to huddle behind the clumsy, centralised British bureaucracy, or join the network of nations? Now the age of empires is over, do we want to stay on a Titanic, which once brutally ruled the waves? Or is it time to join Europe’s flotilla of more human-sized countries, more responsive to each of our needs, but capable of huddling together in a storm?
The British state was built for a previous era, to run a vast and violent empire built at a time when centralisation brought power. In the roaring flames of the second world war it was softened enough to be bent a little towards justice. But that was a blip. Those days are gone.
The rebellion in Scotland right now is against a rapidly centralising state in an age when information is diffuse and people have the capacity to organise themselves more than ever. It’s against an elitist structure in an age of mass education. It’s against a system built to keep us out. And there’s a simple way to tell, whatever the result, that yes voters have history on their side: look at the pathetic campaign mustered by the British state to defend itself. Watch Westminster’s wide-eyed panic as a widely predicted surge in the polls emerges. And ask yourself – would a functional state have failed to see this coming? http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/scotland-yes-campaign-voting-british-state
19 September 2014: Conservatives Praise Role of Former Labour Prime Minister Brown in Independence Campaign
Former Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been praised for his contribution to the Scottish independence campaign by Conservative Minister for State for Scotland David Mundell. He said,”Gordon Brown played a very significant role as have a large number of other people. I listened to Gordon’s speech and it was very, very impressive. http://sputniknews.com/world/20140919/193075895.html
19 September 2014: Scottish Referendum: David Cameron and the Queen seek to ease tensions
David Cameron and the Queen will hope to calm tensions after the heated Scottish referendum campaign when they make conciliatory statements on Friday after the formal declaration of the result. The prime minister is planning to make an early appearance in Downing Street to outline a package of constitutional reforms, amid increasing confidence in No 10 during the early hours of Friday that the pro-UK side would prevail. Cameron is expected to use the occasion to show that the coalition is committed to delivering the pledge, outlined by the leaders of the three main UK parties in the final days of the campaign, to deepen Scotland’s devolution settlement.
But Michael Gove, the Scottish-born Tory chief whip, made clear early this morning that the prime minister would present a balanced package to ensure that voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not feel they have lost out. Gove even suggested that Scottish MPs may be banned from voting on English-only matters at Westminster as government sources said that the Barnett formula, which guarantees extra public spending in Scotland, would be part of the changes.
The Queen, who is understood to have watched the referendum debate with close interest, is planning to issue a written statement in the afternoon. It is understood that the monarch, who was praised by both sides during the campaign, believes that it is important to send a message of reconciliation after the heated debates. In a rare intervention on the political stage the Queen said last weekend that she hoped voters would think “very carefully” before voting. Her remarks, delivered outside Crathie Kirk near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire after the Sunday morning service, were interpreted by the no camp as a helpful intervention.
The prime minister wants to move quickly to show he will stand by his word as he confirms the timetable to devolve greater powers, over taxation and welfare, to the Scottish parliament. Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg issued a joint pledge after Gordon Brown warned the main UK party leaders that they needed to make a dramatic intervention to fight a late surge to the SNP.
Cameron is facing calls from Tory MPs to balance the powers for Holyrood by denying Scottish MPs the right to vote on English-only matters at Westminster and to reform the favourable funding arrangements for Scotland in the Barnett formula. Claire Perry, the rail minister, became the first Conservative frontbencher to speak out when she warned against “promises of financial party bags”.
Gove, who has been canvassing opinion among Tory MPs, indicated that the prime minister is heeding the concerns of Perry and scores of backbenches. The chief whip told the BBC: “If, as seems likely, there is a no vote then the prime minister will be saying more not just about the need to make sure that the interests of Scotland are protected but how we bring the whole UK together and what the means for Northern Ireland, Wales and England. The critical thing is there needs to be change in order to ensure that Westminster works better for the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
Gove ruled out the idea of an English parliament. But he suggested that the West Lothian question, which asks why Scottish MPs are entitled to vote on education and health in England while English MPs are unable to influence such matters in Scotland. He indicated that this could involve denying Scottish MPs to ability to vote on such areas.
The indication from Gove that No 10 is prepared to restrict the voting rights of Scottish MPs may spark a coalition row after Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, ruled out the proposal on Wednesday. Labour, which holds 41 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster, will be opposed to tinkering with the Barnett formula.
It is understood that the prime minister will move to reassure Tory MPs who are alarmed at the favourable funding arrangements for Scotland enshrined in the Barnett formula which ensures that an extra £1,200 per head of public money is spent per head in Scotland. Many Tory MPs were alarmed when the joint guarantee by Cameron and the other UK leaders appeared to guarantee the Barnett Formula. But the commitment was carefully worded to guarantee “the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources”.
It is understood that this means that devolving greater tax raising powers to the Scottish parliament will lead to a claw back in the Scottish block grant which is underpinned by the Barnett Formula.
A command paper setting out the reforms will be published within the next few months. This will be followed by draft clauses on a proposed bill in the new year that will be formally introduced to parliament after the UK general election next May. Conservative backbenchers lined up to demand separate powers for English MPs shortly after the polls closed, underlining the pressure on Cameron to act. Many are angry at what they see as their leader’s complacency that forced him to offer “bribes” to the Scots to stay in the last day of the campaign. Led by former cabinet minister John Redwood, up to 100 MPs could be prepared to veto the Scottish devolution package if England is not given what they consider to be an equal deal.
Their core demands are that Cameron must address the West Lothian question – why Scottish MPs are allowed to vote on English-only issues – and the Barnett formula – the Treasury mechanism that divides up funding between the four nations of the union. They are unlikely to be placated if the prime minister simply says he will implement the McKay Commission, which recommended a greater say for English MPs on English issues without banning Scottish MPs from voting on any legislation.
One of the new voices to pile pressure on Cameron was Boris Johnson, the London mayor and candidate for Uxbridge, who said Scottish MPs should no longer have a say on legislation that just affects England. He told Sky News: “Let’s not give any more sauce to the goose until we’ve given some sauce to the gander.”
Liam Fox, a former Tory defence minister, also said the West Lothian question and the funding settlement between all UK nations would become “unavoidable” .
Others to raise concerns included transport minister Claire Perry, Conor Burns, Andrew Percy, and Michael Fabricant. From Labour, Diane Abbott, a former shadow minister, and John Denham, a close adviser to Miliband, said it would have to be considered.
Other senior figures in Labour, including Jim Murphy, the shadow development secretary, expressed reluctance to ban Scottish MPs from voting on English issues. Allowing this to happen would put any Labour prime minister dependent on Scottish MPs for a majority in a very difficult position. For example, Scottish MPs would potentially not be able to vote for a budget, after tax powers have been devolved. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/19/scotland-independence-david-cameron-queen-address-tension
19 September 2014: Scotland votes no: the union has survived, but the questions for the left are profound
Like the battle of Waterloo, the battle for Scotland was a damn close-run thing. The effects of Thursday’s no vote are enormous – though not as massive as the consequences of a yes would have been. The vote against independence means, above all, that the 307-year Union survives. It therefore means that the UK remains a G7 economic power and a member of the UN security council. It means Scotland will get more devolution. It means David Cameron will not be forced out. It means any Ed Miliband-led government elected next May has the chance to serve a full term, not find itself without a majority in 2016, when the Scots would have left. It means the pollsters got it right, Madrid will sleep a little more easily, and it means the banks will open on Friday morning as usual.
But the battlefield is still full of resonant lessons. The win, though close, was decisive. It looks like a 54%-46% or thereabouts. That’s not as good as it looked like being a couple of months ago. But it’s a lot more decisive than the recent polls had hinted. Second, it was women who saved the union. In the polls, men were decisively in favour of yes. The yes campaign was in some sense a guy thing. Men wanted to make a break with the Scotland they inhabit. Women didn’t. Third, this was to a significant degree a class vote too. Richer Scotland stuck with the union — so no did very well in a lot of traditonal SNP areas. Poorer Scotland, Labour Scotland, slipped towards yes, handing Glasgow, Dundee and North Lanarkshire to the independence camp. Gordon Brown stopped the slippage from becoming a rout, perhaps, but the questions for Labour — and for left politics more broadly — are profound.
For Scots, the no vote means relief for some, despair for others, both on the grand scale. For those who dreamed that a yes vote would take Scots on a journey to a land of milk, oil and honey, the mood this morning will be grim. Something that thousands of Scots wanted to be wonderful or merely just to witness has disappeared. The anticlimax will be cruel and crushing. For others, the majority, there will be thankfulness above all but uneasiness too. Thursday’s vote exposed a Scotland divided down the middle and against itself. Healing that hurt will not be easy or quick. It’s time to put away all flags.
The immediate political question now suddenly moves to London. Gordon Brown promised last week that work will start on Friday on drawing up the terms of a new devolution settlement. That may be a promise too far after the red-eyed adrenalin-pumping exhaustion of the past few days. But the deal needs to be on the table by the end of next month. It will not be easy to reconcile all the interests – Scots, English, Welsh, Northern Irish and local. But it is an epochal opportunity. The plan, like the banks, is too big to fail.
Alex Salmond and the SNP are not going anywhere. They will still govern Scotland until 2016. There will be speculation about Salmond’s position, and the SNP will need to decide whether to run in 2016 on a second referendum pledge. More immediately, the SNP will have to decide whether to go all-out win to more Westminster seats in the 2015 general election, in order to hold the next government’s feet to the fire over the promised devo-max settlement. Independence campaigners will feel gutted this morning. But they came within a whisker of ending the United Kingdom on Thursday. One day, perhaps soon, they will surely be back.
20 September 2014: Gordon Brown said draft legislation on the Scotland Bill will be ready in January as he warned the UK’s main party leaders the eyes of the world are on them
after their vow to deliver extra powers to Scotland. The former prime minister, who has spearheaded an accelerated timetable for Holyrood to get more powers, said he would ensure the commitment given by the leaders of the three main Westminster parties is adhered to. Nationalists have already raised concerns that the schedule Mr Brown set out for further devolution will not be met. But speaking just two days after the referendum, in which 45 per cent of Scots voted for independence, with 55 per cent wanting to remain in the UK, Mr Brown said: “The promises that were made last week about change, about the delivery of further devolution, must be, and I believe, and will ensure, will be delivered. These are men who had been promise makers, and they will not be promise breakers, and I will ensure that that these promises that have been made are upheld.”
Mr Brown, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said a resolution had been issued which would be placed in the House of Commons on Monday, which had been signed by him, the Prime Minister, Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg. This calls on the Government to lay down a command paper taking in the devolution proposals from the three different parties by the end of next month, and for draft clauses of a new Scotland Bill to be ready by the end of January. Mr Brown told an audience at Dalgety Bay Primary School in Fife: “I can ensure to you that this promise that people were doubting on the airwaves and on the Twittersphere last night, the civil service are already working on the proposals. Decision day was Thursday, delivery day started on Friday. They are working on the timetable but also on the detailed plans so that the publication will indeed be the end of October.”
He added: “To ensure that they are locked in and ensure that there is proper scrutiny, so everybody knows this deadline will be adhered to, I have called, with the permission of the Speaker of the House of Commons, a debate in the House of Commons which will take place in the first week back at Westminster on Thursday October 16. In that debate I will want to ensure that the instructions to deliver have become a plan to deliver and not just a timetable to deliver but a certainty that we will deliver. I am utterly convinced that whatever else happens, I am absolutely sure that unconditionally the timetable that I set out, that will be delivered.” The Parliamentary motion:
That this House…
• welcomes the result of the Scottish independence referendum and the decision of the people of Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
• recognises that people across Scotland voted? for a Union based on the pooling and sharing of resources and for the? continuation of devolution inside the United Kingdom.
• notes the statement by the prime minister, deputy prime minister and leader of the opposition regarding the guarantee of and timetable for further devolution to Scotland.
• calls on the government to lay before Parliament a Command Paper including the proposals of all three UK political parties by 30th October and to consult widely with the
Scottish people, civic Scotland and the Scottish Parliament on these proposals.
* further calls on the government to publish heads of agreement by the end of November and draft clauses for the new Scotland Bill by the end of January 2015.
Gordon Brown said he hoped in the coming weeks Scotland could now “build a new constitution within a new union”. He said the new powers coming to Scotland would mean that in the future there “could be no bedroom tax imposed on Scotland ever again, there could be no poll tax imposed on Scotland again”.While he said there was now a “deep desire” for change, he added “The change that is going to happen in my view can meet the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of the Scottish people.”He said this, together with previous legislation, would mean Holyrood has “powers over health, over housing, over transport along with powers over the environment and land use, powers over jobs, the economy and job creation”.
He also stressed the need for the governments in Edinburgh and London to work together, not just on devolution, but on the major issues facing Scotland. “There is no way forward other than co-operation between the Scottish and UK Government to deal with the problems of jobs, young people’s skills, opportunities for the future and economic change. Instead of this stand-off, instead of them talking to themselves but not each other, instead of this war of attrition between a Scottish Government and a UK Government, let them both get together, let them address the economic challenges of Scotland together.”
He went on “I hope we can move beyond the old, that we can start a new chapter now. I hope the government of Scotland and the government of the United Kingdom will come together, not just to deliver the devolution we have been promised but to deal with basic social and economic challenges that we can only address if we do them together and not apart.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/gordon-brown-sets-out-proposals-4291765
23 September 2014: The peer tasked with building a consensus around new powers for Scotland has advised his work will not be easy and he cannot force an agreement between the political parties.
Robert Smith, Lord Smith of Kelvin, urged Scotland’s political parties, which have separate devolution proposals, to show “courage and compromise” in reaching an agreement. He set out details of his Scotland Devolution Commission and started talks with Scotland’s political parties during a visit to the Scottish Parliament today. He said: “Following the referendum we have a willingness, shared by all five of Scotland’s main political parties, to strengthen the powers of the Scottish Parliament. “My message today to the political parties is a simple one – Scotland expects you to now come together, work together and agree the detail of what those powers should be. “Time is tight but this is not an exercisein thinking about what we could do; that has been done. It is about agreeing on what we will do. “My job is to create a process through which agreement is reached, but I cannot force an agreement. It will not be easy; it will require positive intent, courage and compromise from all parties. But I have confidence that our political leaders will rise to the challenge and I look forward to working with them.”
The commission will hold cross-party talks and civic engagement to produce recommendations for further devolution by November 30. This will be informed by a UK Government command paper, to be published by October 31, and will result in the publication of draft clauses by January 25. The recommendations will deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers to the Scottish Parliament. A set of proposals – the heads of agreement – will be published by the commission, independent of both the UK and Scottish governments, based on the views of the five political parties and with input from the wider engagement programme.
Over the course of today, Lord Smith will meet with the Presiding Officer and representatives of the Scottish Conservative Party, Scottish Labour, Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party. He will invite each party to nominate two representatives, at least one of which should be a member of the Scottish Parliament, to take part in the cross-party talks.
He will also ask each party to prepare a written submission on their views on strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. The names of the party representatives will be published by September 26. Later this week, Lord Smith will write to Scottish civic institutions and business groups, seeking their views on strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. Next week, he will announce plans for how individual Scots can share their views on the issue. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/reaching-agreement-further-powers-scotland-4308584
23 September 2014: First Minister Alex Salmond promised the SNP party would play a full part in strengthening the Scottish Parliament, with Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories pledging to do the same.
Scotland’s party leaders vowed yesterday to bury the referendum hatchet and work together for more powers for Holyrood. On a landmark day at the Scottish Parliament, the leaders pledged to move on from the frenzied Yes or No debate – for the good of the country. And the outgoing First Minister and SNP leader promised his party would play a full part in strengthening the Scottish Parliament, with Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories pledging to do the same. The mood changed as Lord Smith of Kelvin, the man charged with building cross party agreement for more powers, called for courage and compromise from politicians.
Salmond said: “The Scottish Government will contribute fully to a process to empower the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people. We will bring forward constructive proposals for doing this.” He said Scotland can emerge the “winner” after years of energising, and sometimes bitter, debate on the constitution. And he added: “Wherever we’re travelling together, we’re a better nation today than we were at the start of this process. We are more informed, more enabled and more empowered. As a result of that, our great national debate in my estimation will help us make a fairer, more prosperous and more democratic country. And in all of that, all of Scotland will emerge as the winner.”
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont congratulated old rival Salmond for giving Scots the chance to have their say. She said it was now clear that staying in the UK was “the settled will of the Scottish people. But she added: “No one believes Scottish politics can go to business as usual.” Lamont said she enjoyed shouting at people as much as anyone, but that could no longer be the way to do politics. She pledged to work with the SNP on child care, protecting the NHS and other big issues including land reform. And she pleaded: “Let us not lapse into the debates of the past and be found wanting.” Davidson and Rennie echoed Lamont’s plea for politicians to move on and focus on Scotland’s needs. And Harvie said the massive involvement of young people in the referendum debate had brought a “generational change” to politics.
The Holyrood debate came eight days after UK party leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg made a front-page vow in the Daily Record that Scots would get more power over tax and welfare if we voted to stay in the Union. They also promised that the Barnett Formula, which determines how public funding is divided across the UK, would not be scrapped despite demands from Tory backbenchers. Salmond said Scotland now has “a responsibility to hold Westminster’s feet to the fire to ensure the pledges are met”. He said: “That’s not just a job for the Scottish Government, it is one for all parties in the Parliament. Indeed, we might well argue there is a special obligation on the unionist parties. They promised further devolution. It is essential they deliver.”
Lord Smith, fresh from successfully guiding the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, watched the speech from the public gallery. He said earlier: “My job is to create a process through which agreement is reached, but I cannot force an agreement. It will not be easy. It will require positive intent, courage and compromise from all parties. But I have confidence our political leaders will rise to the challenge.” Over the day, he met Holyrood’s presiding office and politicians from all parties. The names of two people from each party to work with him will be published by the end of the week, and he will seek the views of civic groups, business and the public. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/scotlands-party-leaders-vow-bury-4313734
25 September 2014: Cameron to Apologise to Queen for gaffe
David Cameron is to make an unprecedented apology in person to the Queen, after being caught privately describing her as “purring” in pleasure at the result of the Scottish referendum result. A chastened Prime Minister admitted he was “very embarrassed” and “extremely sorry” over the gaffe, which came as he chatted with billionaire media tycoon Michael Bloomberg in New York. Downing Street has already contacted Buckingham Palace to offer the PM’s apologies and it is understood that Mr Cameron will say sorry in person when he next meets Her Majesty for one of his regular audiences.
The Prime Minister came under fire after being picked up by a TV microphone on Tuesday telling former New York mayor Bloomberg of the relief he felt at not having to inform the Queen that Scotland had left the United Kingdom. As the pair arrived for a press photo-opportunity, the PM smiled broadly as he recalled how he was able to tell her it was “all right” after the referendum resulted in a victory for the No camp. “The definition of relief, if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s okay’,” he said. “That was something. She purred down the line.”
The comments were condemned as “crass and incompetent” by SNP MSP Dennis Robertson, though Buckingham Palace declined to comment. Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr Cameron was asked whether he regretted the comment and whether he would apologise. He replied: “Yes and yes.” And he added: “Look, I’m very embarrassed by this. I’m extremely sorry about it. “It was a private conversation, but clearly a private conversation that I shouldn’t have had and won’t have again. “My office has already been in touch with the Palace to make that clear and I will do so as well.” http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/pm-to-apologise-for-queen-gaffe-1.593841
28 September 2014: Cameron red-faced over Purrgate
David Cameron today vowed “never again” to discuss his conversations with the Queen after being challenged whether he was ashamed to have been overheard saying she had “purred” when told the result of the Scottish independence referendum. The Prime Minister told the BBC One Andrew Marr programme he regretted the exchange between himself and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, which was overheard by TV cameras at the United Nations this week. Mr Cameron said: “(It is) one of those moments when you look back and kick yourself very hard. “It was not a conversation I should have had, I am extremely sorry and very embarrassed about it. “I have made my apologies and I think I’ll probably be making some more.” Asked if he felt ashamed, the Prime Minister added: ” I’m very sorry about it… I’m not going to ever discuss my conversations with the Palace ever again.”
Downing Street has already contacted Buckingham Palace to offer the Prime Minister’s apologies and it is understood that Mr Cameron will say sorry in person when he next meets Her Majesty for one of his regular audiences. As the Prime Minister and Mr Bloomberg arrived for a press photo-opportunity, Mr Cameron smiled broadly as he recalled how he was able to tell the Queen it was “all right” after the referendum resulted in a victory for the No camp. “The definition of relief, if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s okay’,” Mr Cameron said. “That was something. She purred down the line.”
30 September 2014: Cameron ‘reveals fresh talk with Queen’
David Cameron has reportedly breached royal protocol once again by sharing another private conversation he had with the Queen on a visit to Chequers. It has been claimed he told Tory MPs gathered at his country retreat last week to discuss English devolution about a time the monarch had to be corrected by his curator. She apparently said the original of the Anthony van Dyck painting they were viewing – described as A Family Group – was in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The awkward moment – when she was informed her version was a copy – was said to have unfolded during a tour of the stately home with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in February, their first visit in almost two decades.
The faux-pas, revealed in the Evening Standard, could see Mr Cameron forced to make a second apology in a week after he was recorded saying the Queen had “purred” down the phone to him when he called with the Scottish independence result. And to add to his embarrassment, an art historian has since claimed the Queen was in fact right. Bendor Grosvenor, who writes the blog Art History News, says he has consulted the index of a catalogue of van Dyck works which indicates the Prime Minister’s residence only has copies of the group pictures that match the description of the piece apparently discussed.
He went on: “The Queen – who knows her art – was absolutely right. The two group portraits by van Dyck that would match the description given here of A Family Group are the so-called ‘Great Piece’ of Charles I and Henrietta Maria with Charles II and Princess Mary, and The Five Eldest Children of Charles I. “Both are in the Royal Collection. Chequers has a copy of part of the former – with just Henrietta Maria and Princess Mary – and a full-scale copy of the latter. “These are both listed in the 2004 Van Dyck catalogue raisonne as copies.
“If the curator at Chequers really did not know that van Dyck’s original was indeed in the Royal Collection, they should be sent to the Tower. Equally, if the PM was making the story up as a good yarn, he should be sent to the Tower too. “There are two genuine van Dycks at Chequers, small head and shoulders portraits of Charles I and Henrietta Maria.” Asked what advice he had for Mr Cameron, Mr Grosvenor quipped: “Perhaps he needs a new curator.”
Ukip leader Nigel Farage told the newspaper: “I’m pleased the Tower of London moat is being filled with ceramic poppies at the moment to commemorate First World War soldiers. “But if the prime minister makes any more comments like this we should start to think about using the inside of the Tower as well.” On Sunday, the Prime Minister told The Andrew Marr Show that he regretted being recorded telling former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the Queen had “purred” down the line to him. He has indicated he will say sorry in person when he next meets the Queen for one of his regular audiences. Downing Street refused to comment on the latest matter, saying it was a “private conversation”.
Mr Cameron made the first gaffe during a private conversation with US media tycoon Michael Bloomberg during a visit to New York last week, which was overheard by television cameras. Asked whether he had given his apologies to the Queen about that incident yet, Mr Cameron told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain: “My office has already registered that very strongly with the Palace and I will do so in person when we next have our audience. “But I think I have probably said enough about those audiences, so I won’t say any more.” In an interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Cameron was asked whether his description of the Queen “purring” was demeaning to women in general and the monarch in particular. He replied: “I deeply regret that entire conversation. It was a private conversation but nonetheless it’s a conversation I shouldn’t have had. “I’ve said what I’m going to say about that. I regret it, I’m sorry about it, it won’t happen again.” http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/pm-reveals-fresh-talk-with-queen-1.603248