Helen Martin: England needs to wait its turn

Yes and No groups clash in Glasgow on Friday. Picture: John Devlin
Yes and No groups clash in Glasgow on Friday. Picture: John Devlin
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BY this time, we were all supposed to have accepted the result of the referendum and be working together for the future of Scotland.

Instead, even those who voted No have witnessed Westminster, particularly the Tories who have nothing to lose in Scotland bar one head, making a mess of it already.

The fall-out after the count has been extraordinary, and almost impossible to keep up with. A magic flying carpet wouldn’t have been enough to cope with the shifting sands below.

But David Cameron’s duplicity in lining up with the other leaders to present a united pledge to the electorate of Super Devo powers, described by Gordon Brown as nothing less than home rule, only to place extra conditions on it after the event, must be as disappointing and embarrassing to Union supporters as it is treacherous and sadly predictable to the Yes camp. Even if he does now re-commit, he has already shown that he will be prepared to compromise any undertaking to Scots when England stamps its foot.

His promise lasted just as long as it took southern Tory MPs to say they would not stand by and watch extra powers come north of the Border, unless they got the same deal at the same time.

They would not countenance England’s constitutional change being parked to one side while he honoured his promise to Scotland, a promise that in all likelihood altered the vote.

Any fool can see that would derail the timetable which was an intrinsic part of the vow made by the three leaders.

Failure to understand that other countries in the UK have a different psyche and culture to England is a serious problem for southern Westminster MPs.

We all knew, for example, especially those of us from the west, that the Orange Order marching in support of the Union meant trouble.

It wasn’t exactly surprising when organised, triumphant groups of Loyalist paramilitaries, some from Ulster, turned up in Glasgow’s George Square to gloat, set fire to Saltires, swear at Yes supporters and, 
according to their social networking activity, look for blood.

They made very strange electoral bedfellows for the majority of No voters, often middle-class professionals, concerned about interest rates and mortgages or their jobs in the finance industry, or the elderly fearful for their pensions, but that is the complexity of the west of Scotland, or parts of West Lothian.

Just as they seemed utterly astonished to discover the polls were neck and neck, the finer points of Scotland going forward without turning Glasgow into another Belfast are probably lost on Cameron and the other Westminster leaders.

That is just one of many reasons, including integrity, honesty and honour, why the UK Government must pull out all the stops to deliver on time the promise made on its behalf by its leaders.

England’s people will have to be patient. It was a promise to Scotland. They will benefit eventually from the constitutional changes we won, but they will have to wait their turn.

SO, WHAT’S THE CHAT?

I HAD wondered if pub, dinner party and garden wall meetings would be conducted in stony silence by now with folk struggling to recall what they talked about before the referendum years. No chance!

Brown promise left in balance

EVEN though I was a Yes voter and didn’t think much of Gordon Brown as chancellor, no-one could doubt his sincerity, courage and inspirational performance over the weekend when he took on the responsibility of ensuring That Promise was kept.

He is now a backbencher. I am bemused by why his signature sits alongside that of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband on the “contract” and timetable of reform.

He will either go down in history as the man who held Westminster to its word, or the poor sap who had faith in them and was hung out to dry.

They think it’s all over . . sadly not

IT was Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney, who of all people was among the first to point out that when Alex Salmond ruled out another referendum in a generation or perhaps even a lifetime, that would not be binding on Nicola Sturgeon (or anyone else) once he stands down.

Yesterday, during an interview with Andrew Marr, Big Eck was asked if he still held to that view. He confirmed, before quietly slipping in: “That is, of course, a personal opinion.”

The sands are still shifting, not least in SNP membership numbers which have gone up by 9000 since Thursday. Referendum after referendum is a non-starter, yet there is a palpable feeling in the air that this isn’t over.

Get with the programme, Ed

IT is perhaps only a small thing, but one that in the wake of the referendum and with a general election looming Ed Miliband must try to get right if he doesn’t want to stoke the fire.

His conclusion from the vote is that we are now “one country, the UK”.

Surely even he can see if that was the case, there would never have been a referendum in the first place. Even No voters flinch at being lumped in with England. The UK comprises four countries sharing one monarch and, for the meantime at least, one umbrella government above our own.