Constitutional change: The debate starts here

Alex Salmond Image copyright PA

There has never been a day in politics like this one.

A vote to reject massive constitutional change in one part of the UK has triggered a debate about just that in every part of it.

The man without whom this might never have happened - Alex Salmond - is quitting ensuring that that debate does indeed happen without him as Scotland's leader.

Those who filled the streets of Glasgow and Dundee and Perth with flags and chants and protests have lost yet they may trigger a process with the potential to deliver a little of the change they dreamt of.

The reason is clear - this referendum was not simply about national identity or self-government - it became a vote on the way power is exercised from Westminster - and one the establishment could so easily have lost.

For years constitutional change obsessed and excited a certain breed of political activist and bored pretty much everyone else. Remember the disinterest in the referendum on changing the voting system or the debates on reform of the House of Lords.

Now, though, it will be the focus of election contests in which rivals parties and rival leaders compete to be seen to be standing up for the interests of their people and their country.

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