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 Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 173.

    The attitude of many Scottish people towards the Englsih would be called racism in any other part of the union. I hope they vote for independence, the cheer will be louder south of the border than north!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 172.

    Do Dave and George really want Scotland to remain in the UK? It looks as if they have agreed a referendum which in the eyes of Salmond will give him the best possible chance of a YES vote:

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 171.

    "134.Brangy
    20 Minutes ago
    As a Scotsman living in the NW of England I don't get a vote while English people living in Scotland do. How does this work?"
    You could have stayed in Scotland if you felt that attached to the country. Seems you want what England offers, but can't have it both ways.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 170.

    Two things. Allowing 16+ voters to vote is bonkers the SNP will bus this lot to the polling booths on the day and its not difficult to guess which way they will vote. Most will not have a clue about the issues but will have been shown 'Braveheart' at school in the morning. Secondly, Labour's silence on all this is deafening if it goes the wrong way they could be in opposition forever yippee!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 169.

    I would like to know Alex Salmond's real agenda .To paraphrase another politician about another politician,''there is something of the night about him''. He makes me feel very uncomfortable.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 168.

    #166 krokodil

    OMG we just lost a First Minister and a Prime Minister

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 167.

    As an Englishman I am all in favour of Scottish Independence. Think of all the positives - no Scottish MPs in Parliament. Hang on, how can Labour survive? But then again there are certain members (Gordon Brown, Kirkcaldy) who are taking their MP salaries and not actually turning up.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 166.

    Salmond must resign and/or face a vote of no confidence if his referendum is rejected.

    It would be like Cameron holding an EU referendum, campaigning for a YES vote and losing. He would have to go.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 165.

    Like others, it seems to me that we English should also have a vote on whether we want to stay linked to Scotland. A fair Union should surely be agreed by both parties?
    It also begs the question of Northern Ireland. Given that it was the Scottish MPS that pushed for the partition of Ireland, it would be timely if the Scots (or English) voted for separation, for the Irish question to be reopened.

  • Comment number 164.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 163.

    I think it is outrageous that I have no say whatsoever in the future of my country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain. If there is to be a referendum let everyone vote, not just one small section of our community. England is currently under represented in the democratic forum as unlike Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland we do not have representation except in Westminster

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 162.

    I cannot understand why 16-17-year-olds are not trusted to vote in a general election, yet in a much more important and emotive subject like this, they are deemed to be mature enough. Unless it is a ploy to increase the "yes" vote, which begs the question of why Cameron allowed it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 161.

    Since this affects the whole UK all UK voters should have a say.
    'West Lothian' in reverse?
    And what a nightmare a split will be - mostly paid for by the non-Scotland part of the UK.
    I do hope Salmond will retire from ploutics if he gets the wrong answer - it is only right.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 160.

    I think every one north and south of the border should have a say.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 159.

    @ 146
    The United Kingdom refers to GB (the united kingdoms of Scotland and England) and the Kingdom of Ireland now NI so technically it could still be the United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland. it is GB that dissappears. Wales was seen as part of England and never mentioned!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 158.

    #143 Little-Old-Me

    I have spent ages researching issues relating to Scotland becoming independent. There is lots of contradictory information and where I have referred to "evidence" in previous HYS topics they have either been supported or the source denigrated in equal proportion. The "FACTS" that are published prior to the referendum will be the ones that a winning pro vote will be judged by.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 157.

    Just think scotland get independance and the the rest of the UK will give them oversea aid. (that should double the budget).
    Any way the english could become Scotish for the day and have a vote?

    Re using the pound, I believe if they still want to use the £ then they have to use our exchange rate.
    If they want to go independant and and be part of europe then they have to join the Euro

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 156.

    The system is broken

    One Scottish Tory at Westmister and legally speaking he's running the country. 1 MP out of 60

    So 10 MPs at Westminster are in charge and making policy for 600?

    The system is truly broken and the legacy of Thatcherism is playing out it's final historical battle for the UK

    I didn't leave the Union
    The Union left me

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 155.

    If Scotland vote yes, then i'm moving to England. Scotland could not run a pee up in a brewery, let alone a country of 5 million poor unfortunate souls.

    With countries failing all over Europe, and the Euro about to burst, Surely we must (we being Britain) be better together than apart.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 154.

    As a Scot living in England, and returning to Scotland on Holiday 2 or 3 times a year (spending my money!) The UK is a great Union, and needs to stay that way. Independence... is that what it is all about, more power to the people? No this is simply about Salmon and his own agenda, Vote for me the 'cheeky chappy' I will put Scotland firmly in the 'Arc of Prosperity' with Iceland and Ireland

 

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