Scotland politics

Scottish referendum: Scotland set for 'ceaseless change'?

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon's SNP candidacy speech in full

On Sunday at a service in Edinburgh's St Giles Cathedral designed to bring Scotland together, the congregation sang of a "world of ceaseless change."

It is a phrase which chimes with the strategy now being advocated by some in the independence movement, not least those close to Nicola Sturgeon.

"More powers" they cry, adding "and then some more."

This new approach is intended to be open-ended, to lead to the nationalists' ultimate goal by a different path.

If the Scottish Parliament controls 50% of income tax, goes the logic, why not 60%? Why not 100%?

If it has partial control of welfare, why not total control?

And so on, until Scotland is so close to being a state of its own that it may as well take the final leap.

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Today, launching her leadership bid, Ms Sturgeon made a point of reassuring voters that the final decision would be for them: Scotland would not be unilaterally declaring independence.

This is a necessary step to prevent people being scared off from voting for the SNP in parliamentary elections.

But the strategy now is likely to be this: if you can't bring the people to independence, then bring independence closer to the people.

Of course there are many objections to this approach, not least those set out in the Labour Party's Devolution Commission report which was published in May.

It argued that the SNP had "attempted to adopt the language of social union" without the substance.

For the United Kingdom to be an "effective union" the report argued, control of macroeconomic matters, along with defence, foreign affairs and "the core of the welfare state" must remain with Westminster.

Labour's problem - and the SNP's opportunity - is that these arguments were apparently rejected by voters in all eight of Glasgow's Scottish Parliamentary constituencies.

Every area in a city which was the cradle of the Labour movement voted by a majority in favour of independence.

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The SNP already has significant electoral success in the only other "Yes" city, Dundee, once a Labour stronghold too. Can it now replicate that in Glasgow by tapping in to this appetite for change?

Certainly Scottish Labour is still struggling to find its way, seven years after being defeated for the first time in Holyrood elections by the SNP.

There have even been calls at the party conference for Johann Lamont to be replaced as Scottish leader by Jim Murphy.

Speaking in Glasgow on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon made it clear that she hopes to turn support for independence into support for her party.

"So many people who have been so let down by society voted 'Yes' last week because for the first time in their lives it gave them hope of something better. 'Yes' didn't win but their hope must not die," she said.

The challenge for Labour and the other unionist parties now will be to persuade Scotland that their approach is the one that best accords with the referendum result and to find a formulation of more powers that stops a long, slow, slide to independence.

The referendum is over but the ceaseless change may yet continue.

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