In my heart, I was glad Scotland voted to stick with us
For a long time I wasn’t sure how I felt. Tempted by change for its own sake. Excited by the prospect of something new. Romantic about a resurgent England.
But Scotland has voted to stay. We owe it to Scotland to build a union worthy of their continued participation – and we owe it to ourselves too.
English votes for English MPs at Westminster does not represent real change. It is a subset of the Westminster elite (English MPs) holding its power to its chest in the closest solution to the status quo that remains tenable.
An English assembly answers a nationalistic calling, a desire for a romanticised England of Jerusalem etc. I love England and many of the ideas, romantic and practical, associated with it. But its status as a historic, constituent nation of the United Kingdom does not make it an appropriate political solution to the West Lothian Question.
Inasmuch as there is a satisfactory answer to the problem of our over-centralised, unbalanced state, it is regionalism. And if there is to be any English body – unlikely given the public disregard for politicians and their institutions – it should be based far from Westminster. Nottingham or York, perhaps.
We live in exciting times. There is now an opportunity to remake our union, to forge a new constitutional settlement. With imagination and resolve, this extends not only to political processes but the practical change on the ground they are designed to bring about. Not only a remaking of the British state, but a remodelling of society. Could this now be the time for rediscovering the spirit of 1945.
As Alex Salmond said, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Don’t let's squander it.
So thank you Alex.