There were thunderstorms over London in the small hours, but as I type this, looking out over a pleasantly quiet square in the West of the city, the sun has broken through and the late Summer warmth has returned. So it has been with the Scottish independence referendum, where some significant areas voted Yes – Glasgow being the largest – but overall the vote was a clear No.
That was, as I said yesterday, “the outcome that appears the most likely – that the ‘silent majority’ ensure there is a No vote, and this is upwards of 55% of the poll. All parties will try to claim credit for saving the Union, but the one that will garner the lion’s share of that credit will be Labour. So that will be Fair Play to them, then. But it will be grim news for Young Dave and his jolly good chaps”.
And so it came to pass: 55.3% voted No, against 44.7% for Yes. There was the inevitable last-minute movement in favour of the status quo. That part is over; now, attention has shifted back to the Westminster parties and how they will deliver not just more powers for Scotland, but a genuine regional settlement for England. But first came the reaction of the party leaders.
This, inevitably, put Young Dave in the spotlight, and straight away he misjudged the mood badly. It has been plainly obvious that the late intervention of Pa Broon was a significant help towards preserving the Union: Cameron has been all over the place, and his fellow Tories have been largely irrelevant to the No campaign. So what thanks did he give Brown? He gave him none at all.
That is at least consistent: Dave and next-door neighbour Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, have made denigrating Gordon Brown part of their raison d’être, the idea that he was part of the Rotten Lefty Bad Old Days that they are sweeping away by implementing their much-vaunted Long Term Economic Plan (which in reality is just a PMQs talking point).
The Union has been saved, mainly, by Her Majesty’s Opposition. Cameron cannot get away from that. Nor can he get away from the rising tide of resentment among his own MPs, the belief that he has given the Scots something that not only puts them at an advantage, but by the same token puts English voters at a disadvantage, something Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow Kippers will readily exploit.
Right now, the Prime Minister will be mightily relieved to have got through what could have been a career-ending event for him. But, as I noted yesterday, he will now “be facing Mil The Younger across the dispatch box, knowing that his opponent was keeping him and his increasingly fractious coalition on life support until next May’s General Election – and no longer”. Cameron is a Dead Man Walking.
His advisor “Shagger” Major will be able to tell him all about that.