Scotland has voted to stay in the Union. In spite of all the polls which tended to suggest a "close run thing", it was "No" by a decent margin which one hopes will put the issue to bed for a generation. Why were the polls so far out? My instinct says that a large number of Scots keep themselves to themselves and probably were recorded as "undecided", or, in certain areas simply said what the pollsters expected to hear for fear of intimidation.
The three party leaders at Westminster offered a load of last minute bribes to Scotland should they stay in the Union, but these have got to be approved by Westminster and many MPs are unhappy that the English were not consulted as it would seem that they will undoubtedly carry any extra costs. And, of course, there remains the so-called "West Lothian" question with Scottish MPs being able to vote on English legislation, whilst English MPs are unable to vote on those same issues in Scotland, as they have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
It is clear that Westminster will now be forced to address this issue and there a number of solutions. Simply saying that Scottish MPs can't vote at Westminster on English issues could give major problems. What happens if country as a whole decided to elect a Labour government, but on English issues there was a Tory majority?
If the referendum has achieved one thing, it is that Westminster will have no option as to produce significant constitutional reforms. It seems doubtful that these will be introduced during the remains of this Parliament and I suspect we will have to wait until the next. Hopefully the parties will come forward with detailed proposals in their manifestos.
The next political event is of course the forthcoming by-elections, particularly at Clacton where the sitting MP changed his allegiance to UKIP and, unusually, called for a by-election, rather than simply hanging onto his seat. Let's hope he gets back with a huge majority as this will at last prove that UKIP is beginning to be a force in UK politics following the election of so many UKIP MEPs
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