It Doesn't Matter the Scottish Voted No on Independence



The Scots rejected independence yesterday by a wider than expected margin and amid a high turnout. Perhaps Helen Dale best captured the meaning of the vote by explaining that had she still been living in Scotland she'd have voted No but from afar she hoped to see what a Yes would yield.

Though the result of the vote keeps Scotland within the United Kingdom, it won't stop the process of devolution of power to the Scottish government that's been happening since the 1980s. In fact, the no vote will accelerate it, as no supporters in the British government promised more devolution if Scotland stuck around. As John Cassidy explains in the New Yorker:

Many Scots might be content with such an outcome. But what about the English, the Welsh, and the Northern Irish? Going forward, would they be content to allow Scottish M.P.s to vote on policy measures in Westminster that shape their lives when their own representatives aren't allowed to vote on similar issues involving Scotland, because those get decided in Edinburgh? This question was first posed in 1977, by Tam Dalyell, who was then the Labour M.P. for West Lothian. For many years, the West Lothian question, as it became known, was regarded as an interesting but hypothetical puzzler. But, as more and more powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, it is one that takes on great urgency. Eventually, it could lead to the breakup of Great Britain.

Cassidy suggests a constitutional convention—the United Kingdom is one of only a handful of countries with an uncodified constitution. But while Scotland's government in Edinburgh may be the most prominent and the most independent, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own local, devolved governments as well. Only the English don't—the Scottish referendum result has already led to renewed calls for English devolution.