In a hard fought exciting Scottish referendum contest with an overall turnout of 84.6% the No forces have won a clear victory 55.3 % to 44.7% Yes. The final numbers were only completely counted in the early hours of the morning in Scotland but they revealed a clear cut victory for the no side. The no side received 2,001,926 votes compared to the 1,617,989 votes for the yes.Of the 32 councils reporting results the Yes side won only four of them and came very close in one other, Inverclyde known for its ship building industry. The four were Glasgow turnout 75% where the Yes won with 53.5 % of the vote 194,779 votes to the no 169,347 votes,46.5 %; Dundee turnout 78.8% yes 53,620 57.3% no 39,880 42.7 %; North Lanarkshire 84.4% turnout Yes 51.1% 115,783, no 48.9% 110,922 and West Dunbartonshire turnout 87.9% yes 54 % 33,720 and no 46 % 28,776. In most of the other 27 areas the No side won by relatively large margins. Unemployment was higher in the areas which voted yes.
However, the yes side did well enough with 44.7 % of the vote to bring about what looks like will be major changes in terms of additional powers given to the Scottish parliament and consequently a major debate about devolution of comparable powers to Northern Ireland and Wales and perhaps the establishment of an English Assembly and the principle of England’s voters representatives only voting on English issues and policies just as only Scottish MSPs will vote on Scottish issues and similarly for Wales and Northern Ireland. This will be a lively and difficult debate for the UK as a whole with the political parties disagreeing about the character and extent of devolution. For example Labour might well be reluctant to accept totally the principle that Scottish MPs at Westminister not be entitled to vote on devolved issues like health care and education because so many of their MPs come from Scotland and they might lack a majority among English MPs even if they become the Government of the UK after the next election.
At the other end of the spectrum the anti EU party UKIP is a strong advocate of the principle that only English elected MPs should vote on devolved policy areas.
So the road ahead will have many twists and turns as the United Kingdom evolves from a quasi unitary state to a close to federal state. As a Canadian observer I offer my best sentiments and wishes for success for the difficult debates and issues to come. There is much to be learned about the benefits of flexible federalism and sensitivity to regional minorities for healthy polities. We can learn much from each other in this increasingly democratic and integrated world.