The referendum result last Thursday was earth-shattering. Hundreds of years of history were consigned to a Scottish dustbin. Yes, the members of the Royal and Ancient voted to let women into their clubhouse, the worldwide HQ of golf, for the first time. Whatever next? Women had got their rights at last as this last Scottish bastion of male domination fell, adding another relic to the tourist trail of ancient ruins.
Oh, and down the road in Edinburgh another referendum ended in a desperate gambler losing all his chips, as Scotland voted with its head and not its heart to stay in the Union that has worked OK for 307 years.
Salmond the wrecking-ball, however, dreaming of his own Soviet Socialist Republic of Scotland, has shifted the UK’s tectonic plates, but not quite as he had planned. Cameron, Clegg and Miliband agreed the Scots needed to be headed off at the pass and so agreed a pact to bury the hatchet for a day and tell the Scots they could run their own NHS, which in fact Salmond had been doing for several years already. And they could now raise their own taxes too. (More jobs for England, then.)
It only took until Friday morning, within minutes of the No result coming out of Edinburgh, for Miliband, who hadn’t forgotten where the handle of that hatchet was buried, to break his bond and start wielding it wildly about his head: he demanded devo-max for the Scots – a rash call, indeed: Cameron was on to it quicker than a rat up a drainpipe as he called for devo-max too – for the English!
It doesn’t augur well for Ed’s chances next May: Old Labour’s 40 Scottish Labour MPs, now under threat from the SNP, won’t be able to vote on English matters, and so Labour will be equally out of it in Scotland and at Westminster too, as a failing national party. Ed suddenly realised he had been suckered by an own goal.
There will now be a right royal bunfight at Westminster, and on a tight timetable too, as they all career towards 7 May 2015; as there’s no time for any bill before then, devo-max will now be what the next election is all about.
Conservatives will be fighting for an English Parliament; Labour will be fighting to hold onto Scotland and keep the West Lothian question alive for Westminster; the SNP will be demanding more powers and no welching on promises; while the Welsh are out for themselves, and Ulstermen are tailgating them.
Nigel Farage has already got his revenge for his shoddy treatment in Edinburgh, by posting a cheeky letter to every Scottish Westminster MP inviting them not to vote on English matters, while he mocks them all. They are in thrall to Brussels anyway, and only scrapping over scraps. He will stand out, championing max-devo-max, or a real EU Brexit.
As the demand for devo-max spreads at home, we are at the other end of the spectrum of 1979, when Thatcher centralised power in Westminster to control the Medium-Term Financial Strategy that hauled the economy out of the mess left by Old Labour that time around and led to a thirty year expansion.
Fasten your seatbelts, here we go again, back in the wrong direction, back to the slag-heaps, Middlesbrough, Strathclyde, the Welsh Development Agency et al… Yes, it’s just the same old salami, as Governor La Guardia used to say.