The United Kingdom has set up federal systems across the world but has been reluctant to embrace the principle itself, whether in relation to its constituent nations or to Europe. In the latter context, indeed, it has remained the ‘f-word’. Now almost everyone is talking about federalism as a new way of approaching the Scottish issue, a third way between devolution and independence, and as a device for fitting the United Kingdom together as a whole. As usual, when so many people agree on an idea, however, they do not agree on its meaning.
Opinion polls have consistently suggested strong support for the Scottish parliament to have powers over social security. Over the next 6 weeks, the Smith commission now has an opportunity to consider, as part of its broader process, whether agreement can be reached over welfare devolution.
Over 1.7m Scots were energised enough about the future of their country to campaign, research and turn out to vote for radical change on the 18th September. And according one of the first post-result polls, 25% of No voters voted that way because they believed that Scotland would receive significant additional devolved powers whilst remaining in the UK. So that’s over 2 million voters wanting policy decisions for Scotland to be taken in Scotland.
Michael Keating on the result, offers of further devolution, the Barnett Formula and a poisoned chalice.
So Scotland voted no. Yes won 45% of the vote, significantly short of a majority and indeed what most of the polls in the run-up to the referendum suggested. Yes won in just four local authority areas, losing in 28. All in all a comprehensive defeat.