The people of Scotland voted by 55% to 47% to stay in Britain but their referendum has shaken the usually smug politicians in London to take note. British Prime Minister David Cameron whose job was on the line, promised after the result, to allow more powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Friday September 19, 2014, 8:07 DST
In a nail-biting referendum, the people of Scotland rejected by a fairly narrow margin separation from the rest of Britain.
While the referendum was based on a complicated set of proposals, people were given a straight-forward choice of voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
Pre-vote polls had indicated a very narrow contest but in the end the ‘No’ vote carried the day by garnering 55.3% of the vote (2,001,926) while the ‘Yes’ side could muster only muster 44.7% (1,617,989) for a huge turnout of 84.5%.
There were nearly 4.3 million eligible voters that cast ballots in more than 500 polling stations across 32 districts.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond called for unity and urged the unionist parties in Westminster to deliver on more powers.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted that UK would remain together and said the commitments on extra powers would be honored.
He said the three main parties at Westminster—Conservative, Labor and Liberal Democrats—would now follow through with their pledge of more powers for the Scottish Parliament.
“We will ensure that those commitments are honored in full,” he said.
While the ‘Yes’ side did not achieve their objective of independence, the fact that nearly 45% of Scots wanted separation represents a very broad constituency of dissatisfied people that want the way Britain is governed to change.
British politics are very centralized and dominated by politicians at Westminster in London, England. People in other parts of Britain—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—feel left out.
Scotland has its own parliament but they want more powers over taxation, resource allocations and a greater say in how spending and welfare schemes are managed.
Scottish politicians have also adopted fairer policies vis-a-vis such issues as the zionist occupation of Palestine and US-British imperialist policies in the rest of the world.
Prior to the referendum, unionist politicians including Cameron and Labour leader Ed Milliband as well as former prime minister Gordon Brown all rushed to Scotland to urge people to stay in the UK.
They appealed to people’s sentiment not to break a 300-year-old union. Acknowledging that he was not popular, British Prime Minister Cameron said he would “not be around forever” and that the people of Scotland should think of Britain!
Had the ‘Yes’ vote won, Cameron would be out of a job. British politics, like politics elsewhere, are a vicious game in which the knives are always at hand.
Despite the ‘No’ vote, Cameron may be on his way out since his popularity is way down in the polls.
Even the Queen was pressed into service for the unionist cause. She called on the Scottish people to ‘think very carefully’ before voting. Many people saw this as a veiled threat from the British monarch suggesting that Scots would be worse off on their own.
Many Scots would disagree. Scotland produces $40 billion worth of oil that it shares with the rest of Britain. Scotland also exports about $75 billion annually to England alone. And in the union, Scottish per capita GDP is one-sixth of that of people in England.
Cameron acknowledged that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over their affairs.
It will be interesting to see whether he will honor his pledge now that the Scots have rejected separation.