David Cameron, Alex Salmond and Scotland's referendum

 
David Cameron and Alex Salmond, pictured in 2011 David Cameron and Alex Salmond, pictured in 2011

They shake hands. They smile for the cameras. They hail an agreement which allows the people of Scotland to determine their own future. However, both men will know that there can only be one winner.

Either David Cameron is set to become the last Prime Minister of this United Kingdom, or Alex Salmond is on course to be the first nationalist leader forced to admit that his country has rejected the chance to become an independent nation.

In a little over two years Mr Cameron could return to Edinburgh as the leader of a foreign country, or Mr Salmond could still be coming to London as just one of the leaders of one of the parts of the UK.

This is a decision which will affect people in Accrington as well as Aberdeen and Cardiff as well as Cowdenbeath. It will have an impact not just on the taxes raised and the money spent throughout the UK, but also on such diverse questions as the location of army, navy and airforce bases, how our interest rate is determined and, even, the future of the BBC.

If Scots vote for independence there would be a natural English Conservative majority in the rump UK. If they vote against, Scottish politics will, for the first time in decades, not be dominated by the promise or the threat of separation from the rest of the UK.

That finality is the real point of today's agreement which heralds the transferring of power from Westminster to Edinburgh to hold a simple yes/no independence referendum by the end of 2014. It is meant to ensure that there is no dispute, no confusion, no rival interpretations which could see a court of law rather than the people determine Scotland's destiny.

Yet, for all this talk of resolving the future once and for all, it is worth remembering that Scots will not be able to vote for what many say they want and what all the biggest parties here advocate - namely more powers for Scotland within the UK.

Many Unionists assume that today marks the beginning of the end of Alex Salmond's dream as the polls suggest that there is no majority for independence.

Providing he can hold his party together and ensure this vote is not seen as a referendum on him - both big ifs - Scotland's First Minister may consider more powers a pretty good consolation prize.

 
Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 73.

    I wish the Scots good luck in their referendum. However many people have scots heritage but haven't lived in the country for years. Canada has a huge population who claim scottish heritage. Who is going to be entitled to vote ?. Scots who live abroad, England or further ? Or only people resident on the Scottish register of electors ?. What about English people resident in scotland can they vote ?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 72.

    If Scotland votes for independence then at least Westminster will be free of the Scottish MPs block vote on legislation that only afftects England. Why is this ConLib and was the last Labour government so reluctant to rectify this glaringly obvious democratic deficit.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 71.

    #61: How about simply "United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland". We could keep the united part since it could represent we are one kingdom who is united in spirit, rather than two kingdoms which united into one.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    It is quite extraordinary how many think that if the secessionists win this referendum that everything else will remain much the same. It won't. The end of the Union changes all the countries of the Union fundamentally.

    My suggestion to the secessionists is that they be careful for what they wish for, both for themselves and others.

    The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 69.

    If Scotland votes for Independence and I hope we do then the national debt and the national assets of the UK will have to be divided. There is international precedent for it all. We will have to take our share of debt but we will also own a proportion of the military assets. Remember at the moment more money from Scotland is spent on the BBC and the military than is spent in Scotland by either.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 68.

    sadly Tom (Tom Waller) "looking on the bright side" for many people in England would be Scotland leaving UK. This will leave England a pretty right wing place - with maybe a majority in favour of leaving the EU also.

    As for Nick Robinson, Scotland is NOT voting to be an independent nation, but an independent state.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 67.

    I can't wait to fly into some long far off destination & present my new English passport & proudly confirm that I'm not British anymore now that Scotland is independent. Its time to end this 'British' description nonsense - there is no such thing as 'British' as is about as stupid as an old Jimmy Savile cigar waving joke. I don't care about Britain being world policeman or on UN security council

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    @54
    Too true.

    But have the electorates in all parts of the UK fully realised what this malarkey is costing them?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 65.

    49.Tom Waller
    14 Minutes ago
    "I look forward to Scotland becoming a Proud, Free and Independant Nation again, as we were before our so called 'Noble Men' sold us out to an English King for Land and Money"

    That would be James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England, would it?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 64.

    I'm not a Scot but I hope they vote for Independence. This will focus attention on the rest of the Union and allow Scotland to create a progressive and fair minded left of centre European nation.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 63.

    Regarding the 'london centric' banks - the two banks that collapsed, RBS and HBOS are Scottish-based. Gordon Brown strong-armed Lloyds-TSB into taking on HBOS cause it to collapse as well.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 62.

    Not sure why some people are stating Scotish independence will mean Tory rule in England forever more.

    Just some very simple stats will show you that taking out all Scottish MPs in 1997, 2001 and 2005 still gave Labour a majority (enormous in '97 and '01)

    Makes you look stupid saying otherwise.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 61.

    But what would we call our country if the Republic of Scotland is born? The United Kingdom of, er, parts of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. Well, that won't do there's only one kingdom left. How about the first two letters of each constituent country's name: Enwani? No, that sounds like a Vic & Bob word. It'll have to be the the first letters only followed by -land: NEWLAND. Excellent.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 60.

    "In a little over two years Mr Cameron could return to Edinburgh as the leader of a foreign country," Um, Nick, even if Scotland votes "yes" then I doubt they will separate from the United Kingdom immediately, after-all there will be mountains of negotiations to make over shared organisations, resources, defence equipment, pensions... this will all take a while.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 59.

    let us not forget that Scotland would probably already have Independence if we had been given devolution when we voted for it first in the 1970s! There's no way we would have stayed with the UK after Thatcher!!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 58.

    Dear BBC I am sure we would wish you to continue to broadcast to our Nation under the existing license fee. I am pretty sure we will keep the Queen, and of course the Commonwealth of Nations who have served us well. Oh and look on the bright side - England will get the chance to beat Scotland at International level again in Football tee hee

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 57.

    It's straightforward and simple. If Independence rejected Cameron wins and he might just win the next UK election, if accepted the Tory party wins and becomes the largest party in England

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 56.

    Independence will happen as Salmond needs to think not only of a majority in referendum but how many diseenters & rabble rousers are needed to keep Independence issue alive until Westminster & all & sundry worn down & especially if UK has another financial crisis caused by London centric banking mess. Independence is inevitable with or without more devo powers - UK cannot have perpetual acrimony?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 55.

    Justin150 - Your comment regarding the withdrawal of armed forces pending a "Yes" vote for independence is absurd.

    Do you not feel that Scotland and the Scottish people have as much a share in the Armed forces as the rest of the UK? And that a vote for independence simply should signal the start of the process to equally share and divide assets such as the Military?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 54.

    I think the Scottish politicians are just as capable of making a dog's dinner of running Scotland as those in Westminster are, and both sets of politicians have amply and repeatedly demonstrated that. The only true difference it will make is how the Scots feel about themselves as a nation. What it will do, at long last, is stop all the moaning from north of the border - for a little while.

 

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