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The 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum - Looking ahead

Updated Monday, 2nd March 2015

Is Scotland in a different place post-Independence Referendum?

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It was widely claimed that with a NO result, the Scottish Independence Referendum would have ‘secured the Union for a generation’. However, relatively few would now in the aftermath of the Referendum put much weight on this claim. The promises made of more devolution for Scotland if it voted No by the leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties, Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, which were instrumental in securing a NO vote has already caused massive political eruptions across the UK.
 
In Scotland there have been widespread concerns that the well-publicised vow for more devolved powers for Scotland is already being diluted or delayed, as the three main UK parties squabble over the timetable, their respective political futures and the growing emergence of ‘the English question’. 
 
In early November 2014 several opinion polls reflected this ongoing fall-out from the Referendum. In an IpsosMori poll (November 3, 2014), 66% of people in Scotland support having another referendum within the next ten years regardless of circumstances; 58% support having another referendum vote in the next five years; 55% support another referendum if the UK votes to leave the EU in 2017, and this has already been demanded by First Minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon. So much, then, for the September 18 being a once in a lifetime/generation opportunity!
 
However, the Scottish Independence Referendum has also re-ignited other though interconnected debates about the UK’s territorial arrangements. There are different dynamics and emerging, renewed tensions, contradictions and ambivalences. In all of this social welfare issues are pivotal in that they point to and are utilised in claims about the fair or unfair distribution of resources across the pluri-national UK. These issues are destabilising the UK union in ways that have not been seen before. 
 
Nobody asked to design a political system for Britain would ever propose the one it has. The one-and-a-bit large islands (and many smaller ones) that The Economist calls home are a hotchpotch of parliamentary systems, unevenly distributed powers and constitutional uncertainties. The set-up is as uneven as Britain’s history is eventful, which is no coincidence: the causes of the mess date back centuries. The latest upheaval - Scotland’s referendum on independence, which ended with a “no” vote on September 18 - has made things untidier still. (The Economist, September 27, 2014).
 
Scotland is, despite the NO vote, a very different place post-Independence Referendum. The nature of that difference is working out in ways that had perhaps not been foreseen. The future is perhaps now even more uncertain than that which would have been provided by a clear YES mandate for Independence. The demand for change remains high – and, as yet, unmet. Scotland and the rest of the UK are in a period of transition – which will see new ruptures and tensions during the 2015 UK General Election - and beyond.
 
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This article is the final article is a series of articles on the 2014 Scottish Referendum. See all the articles. 

 

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