Scottish referendum results: And now for the West Lothian question – but resolving it won’t be easy

This result heralds major changes to our constitutional structure, and that’s invigorating

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The UK is saved. The Scotland that I love – from Glasgow’s vibrant heart to the heather-banked graveyard in Aberfeldy where three generations of my family lie – will not be a foreign country. The margin of victory for the No vote is not breathtakingly close, as the polls suggested, but emphatic.

The huge turnout is a cause of celebration for anyone who loves democracy, who thought that the British people couldn’t be bothered with politics – they can. Anyone who loves Scotland too should cheer the fact that its relationship with England has changed forever. The Scottish have given the English a lesson in nationhood and pride, a lesson in the importance of embracing the idea of Great Britain, a lesson in rejecting narrow nationalism.

There is, this morning, wild talk of a democratic revolution in Britain – not just giving more powers to Scotland, as David Cameron has promised, but of major changes to our constitutional structure. It feels invigorating and optimistic - a bit like after what Danny Boyle gave us at in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Yet before we get carried away, there are some reasons to be troubled. How does this overwhelming feeling of celebration and relief sit with the fact that 1.5m people have voted for independence? Or the fact that Glasgow - the city that more than anywhere else represents the disaffection with the Westminster Establishment, the place that more than anywhere else needs the warm embrace of the family of nations - voted Yes?

he Prime Minister this morning promised he will deliver, in the next Parliament, on the enhanced powers that were pledged to voters at the 11th hour. He also pledged there would be real change across the UK, including a settling, once and for all, of the West Lothian Question – with Scottish and Welsh MPs to be barred from voting on English-only devolved issues. The Labour Party will be vehemently opposed to the change, and it indeed this question, which has troubled the British Parliament for decades, won’t be resolved easily. But on the wider issue of change, we have been here before: after the expenses scandal, we were promised a “new politics”, a transformed way of how Westminster does things. Yet apart from a few humiliated MPs, and some tweaking of select committee rules, Westminster remains the unmodernised, entrenched old boys club that is run, as the Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said this week, more like a public school than a great institution.

It is easy to become intoxicated by what has happened overnight. But what the whole of the UK needs now is a bit of sobriety.