Less than a week after the Scottish referendum results and the art of low politics has already made its debut onto what is turning into a particularly sordid little stage.
Having held back on my personal view prior to the vote, I’m personally very pleased that the No vote was successful. I certainly don’t see my many Scots friends as subjected to England or Britain. Nor do I fail to see the unique national identity of the Scottish people. I’m just pleased that they chose (in the majority) to exercise that distinct identity within the scope of the United Kingdom.
That said, I would be the first person to say the behaviour of the major parties (and specifically the English parties) has been nothing less than disgusting. It’s made me quite ashamed to be part of the English nation.
Of course, the expected resignation of Alex Salmond MSP took place with almost undue haste. Although it was expected that he would fall on his own sword in the event of a defeat, his speed took many (including me) by surprise. Whilst I had anticipated him stepping down as the leader of his party, I didn’t expect him to leave the political stage completely. I for one disagreed with his rationale, didn’t appreciate the way he ran his campaign (it was too presumptuous and incomplete) and disliked his personal style. However, I did believe he felt his ambition for Scotland was in it’s best interests. I certainly believe Scottish politics more generally (arguments over independence aside) will be the weaker following his departure.
However, the speed of his leaving was nothing compared to the ‘clarifications’, ‘qualifications’ and ‘variations’ uttered by the main party leaders within England post referendum.
In the days immediately prior to the vote, promises were made to Scotland indicating that far more autonomy, self-determination and decision making powers would be settled on the Scottish Parliament. How disappointing it was to see English politicians squirming like a worm on a hook three days after the vote trying to recover ground as if we hadn’t heard them make the offers to those north of the border.
I for one remember the extent of the promises made in those days and within the ‘vow’ printed on the front of the Scottish Record and signed by all three English party leaders.
Of course the issues raised by granting Scotland more independence has an impact on England and Wales, potentially it encourages more regional devolution and undoubtedly it shows that the promise has many ‘loose ends’. However, all that said – the promises were made in order to secure the union and once made in good faith, I would be shouting as loud as any Scot that those promises are honoured without the shabby examples of watering-down their words after securing their desired result.
What is worse is that this behaviour is exactly the kind of Machiavellian scheming that resulted in the Scottish arguments for independence stating UK politics was unfit for Scottish purposes.
I trust and hope that the politicians within England will realise that their actions over the next 12-18 months will either secure the union for the next generation or will merely hasten the calls for a second bite of the rotten cherry. If you renege on your promises now, you will prove the point that those calling for Scottish Independence made. A point I had hoped was just opportunistic shorthand for anti-English sentiment.
Come on political classes within England and Westminster. Keep your word !