After a close fought campaign the Scottish National Party leader, Alex Salmond has resigned as the Fist Minister of Scotland. The Scottish public rejected independence by keeping the 307 -year-old union with England. According to the Scottish Secretary of State, Alistair Carmichael, Scotland should give up on holding future independence debates in order to prevent damaging the union’s image, as the independence question has been resolved in a “way that was legal” and should therefore be respected.
However, a favourite to replace Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, stated last month that in the case of a failed promise of further devolution of powers for Scotland, the Holyrood Parliament could have the right to reopen the independence debate. Devolution of some of the economic and welfare powers could allow Scotland to self-govern its country despite Westminster scaremongering which undermines Scotland’s capacity to home-rule.
The Scottish Deputy First Minister warned David Cameron over the complex process of the legal transfer of powers, as there is “no going back” from making such promises and as much as Westminster politicians would have wished for they cannot put Scotland “in a devolved box.”
Nicola Sturgeon believes that the Better Together campaign of “fear tactics” had without a doubt played a key role in influencing the voting patterns. Nonetheless Sturgeon does admit that if the Unionist government successfully delivers all devolution pledges it will lessen future independence questions. Scaremongering in the form of making threats to Scottish economy has consequently “diverted attention and undermined confidence” of many Scottish voters.
Additional powers given to Scotland require a level of self-government in areas such as finance, education and welfare. Thus, one can only hope that the Holyrood Parliament uses these powers wisely for the benefit of the commonwealth. However, despite recent Scottish hunger for home-rule, a recent poll has suggested that two thirds of Scottish citizens desire the right to self-govern in all areas apart from foreign affairs, including security and defence. This may give the impression of Scots expressing a lack of faith in their country’s own capacity in being an international player that is truly independent and possesses qualities necessary to secure its borders.
Unionist politicians claim that a future referendum would not only garble Scottish politics but would also compromise business growth and market economy. During difficult financial times, the Scottish government should employ all efforts in joining Downing Street in order to create certainty and ensure jobs – instead of propelling more doubt by hosting more independence referendums in the near future.
The former Labour Party leader, Gordon Brown, was credited with winning over votes in the Better Together campaign during his passionate speech: "There is a time to fight but there is a time to unite and this is the time for Scotland to unite and see if it can find common purpose and move from the battle ground to the common ground and let us seek to find high ground in trying to find a way forward for the future." Gordon Brown assured the Scottish voters that the eyes of the world were fixed on the key political figures that will be held accountable to upholding promises and thus making them “promise makers” and not “promise breakers”. Gordon Brown’s speech played a key role in the last days of the ‘No’ campaign as he channelled positivity and charisma which had been lacking before.
So what does the referendum result mean? Well one may be certain of the fact that as much as it was a victory for the union it was a complete disaster for the Labour Party which has utterly lost touch with much of its heartlands throughout Scotland. There is a growing distaste for Downing Street politics and a sense of a ‘NotWestminster’ movement spreading anger and chaos around Britain. This may lead to extremist parties, such as Ukip – the Eurosceptic rightwing populist political party – in using the antiWestminster drive as a future campaign tactic.
The hostility towards the Westminster Parliament is so well-rooted and universal that it makes it almost impossible to put a stop to it. However, despite losing the independence vote, the close result may be portrayed as a major stepping stone for Alex Salmond and the Scottish National Party. The independence debate saw people from all walks of life becoming empowered and engaging in politics. It was a true victory for Scottish democracy as people exercised their democratic and civil rights to the fullest.
There is a growing desire for social and economic changes to be made in Scotland which require mutual respect and partnership between Holyrood and Westminster. In the next couple of months we will see David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond discuss the type of society one hopes to create in Scotland. The key political parties should focus on creating harmony and peace as these unite us “nationally, regionally and globally.”