A number of positive things came out of the referendum, civility and engagement being just two, but I feel the most important was the huge turnout. We need to look at how we can replicate this in every election, whether for council, Parliament or EU in every part of the United Kingdom so that we get the type of Government we want.
It seems to me that a key element for the huge turnout was that the Scottish people not only thought it was important but felt also that their individual vote counted and would affect the final result.
This morning we hear again about the West Lothian question. Rather than this being divisive could this not be an opportunity to tackle the issue, along with the need for people to feel that their vote counted? Is it not time to look again seriously at proportional representation as a solution? It could help Labour, which feels threatened by some possible solutions to the West Lothian question, and would help engage people who feel their vote does not matter.
Ross on Wye
With a conclusive result against independence, Scotland is now in a “win, win” by having the comfort and security of staying in the UK and yet more devolved powers given to our Parliament.
The remarkable turnout of 84 per cent endorses the result of the referendum and kicks independence into the long grass for the foreseeable future as the people of Scotland have now spoken loud and clear in the matter.
Dennis Forbes Grattan
I am a Scottish voter who cast his vote in the referendum on the Yes side. I had many reasons for doing so, but by far the largest one was that I am constantly angered and shamed at the things the UK government does around the world, supposedly in my name. Our national Government is base and evil and without any moral compass. I had hoped that the new Scottish nation could break free from this and forge its own path as a real democracy, with a foreign policy which reflects the wishes of its people. What I am left with is the feeling of being trapped in a system which will never change and which will continue to make enemies around the world for years to come.
As the collective sigh of relief echoes around Westminster and the City of London, it would be encouraging to think that lessons have been learned. Firstly, that the democratic process thrives on passionate debate and vision. The chances of next year’s election producing a healthy turnout will not be helped if Messrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg continue in their current styles. I do not wish to see misty-eyed declarations of what they “passionately believe in” but I want to hear their passionate advocacy of their radical solutions to the issues that confront our country. Bland, anodyne party politics is killing UK democracy at its roots.
The second lesson is that many found the threatening, bullying pronouncements from the leaders of the financial and business world distasteful to say the least. Our political leaders must have the strength to resist threats from unelected figures, who often speak only for themselves and their vested interests. If fear of change drives our future the outlook is bleak and our decline assured.
It was a Scottish Labour MP, Tam Dalyell in 1977 (yes, 37 years ago), who pointed out the obscene unfairness of Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh MPs voting on issues that pertained only to England. Why have Labour and Conservative governments taken so long to address the West Lothian question?
The Scottish referendum must be taught in schools. Scotland has gained worldwide admiration for its ingenuity, rationality and democratic performance. No deployment of tanks and military personnel such as the case in the Crimean peninsula, no electoral fraud and rigging as is the case in many parts of the world, and most importantly, no illegal forms of voter intimidation.
The voting was a happy ending, a colourful demon- stration of a strong sense of belonging to the United Kingdom. The UK has asserted itself as the bastion of freedom and democracy. As Mr Cameron put it, “now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and move forward”.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
A tragedy that Scotland voted No. I was looking forward to Nigel Farage (why isn’t it pronounced Faridge?) bleating on about repatriating the Scots who live in the rest of the UK.
The answer to the English question is so obvious that politicians can’t see it: abolish the House of Lords, put an elected English assembly in its place and make the House of Commons the upper house, with over-arching authority over all four national parliaments.
Our political ‘‘leaders’’ may well be feeling some relief at Scotland’s choice to stay with the Union but none of them can claim victory: the vote went the way it did not because of them but in spite of them. Not only David Cameron but also Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg jeopardised the very fabric of our country through their obstinacy, their ignorance and arrogance. We don’t need a referendum to know that the people of Britain have no confidence or belief in these stuffed shirts.
The disunited kingdom may thank those who behaved poorly during the course of the Scottish referendum. It reminds the rest of us of the dangers of nationalism. Like Mr Farage, Mr Salmond can- not easily control fellow-travellers. As we know from the past, other potential nationalist leaders may not even want to.
In victory, the leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, has proclaimed the primacy of unity over division. Yet he was part of a government that presided, untroubled, over the longstanding division of Ireland.
Throughout the campaign, a definite hypocrisy and dishonesty has been at work, and David Cameron’s government has no option now but to support and facilitate the unity of Ireland, without delay, in the interest of justice and democracy.
Cadhla Ni Frithile
Scotland’s decision, followed by Cameron’s announcement of a “fair settlement for all parts of the UK”, presents the problem of the disproportionate size and power of an English assembly. Suppose that there were not just one ‘‘English assembly’’ but several, with each assembly serving a population of, say, eight to 10 million.
This would offer not only the benefits of equity and balance, but could also build on institutions already in existence (the mayoralty of London, for one), while directly addressing the opportunity to devolve more power to large cities. The parliament in Westminster would be the seat of the government; the next level would be Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a series of regional assemblies across England – with names, perhaps, such as Mercia, Wessex or Northumbria.
Before folk in England rejoice at the thought of a form of devolution, they should reflect on the reality of the Welsh Assembly. Here we have an over-manned talking shop, distributed across an archipelago of expensive and ultra-modern office blocks that stand half empty in small rural towns “distributing democracy” to a disillusioned population.
English regional administrations will have exactly the same disposition to providing themselves with equally well-provided accommodation. Instead of streamlining the British government in our medium-sized country, with its faltering economy, we have chosen to expand admin-istration and entangle ourselves with a multi-layered series of govern- ments when we could have reinvented ourselves as a federation of states, governed by a House of Commons and an elected second house. We have another British fudge of confusion that will preserve the Etonian/Harrow ruling elite beneath a phoney veneer of radical reform.
Gwent, South Wales
In the midst of his relief that the UK is still intact, Mr Cameron would do well to consider how close his government and its policies came to destroying it. With almost half of Scotland voting to quit the Union, I am not sure anyone can call this a victory. Can I suggest he prioritise social cohesion and a sense of justice throughout the country that is felt by all. With that in mind, he would do well to immediately scrap the Bedroom Tax, a levy so disastrously conceived that it has gone a long way to almost changing the shape of the nation.