I am delighted that Scotland spoke decisively and clearly to reject division and separation and to endorse our United Kingdom. In a huge 85% turnout the separatists were defeated by 55% to 45%.
I spent my two weeks holiday in Scotland in late August including a week in Edinburgh knocking on doors campaigning with Scottish Labour and the cross party Better Together Campaign. When I left I predicted a No vote. Despite a panic induced by a late narrowing of some polls in the end only 4 areas including Glasgow and Dundee voted Yes, 28 voted No including Aberdeen, Perth and by 61% to 39% Edinburgh.
Scotland will expect the UK parties to now quickly implement the promise of greater devolution of taxation powers and control over social security and housing benefit. These changes are likely to lead to calls for future greater devolution in Wales and Northern Ireland and also to English cities and Regions.
I do not support a centralised English Parliament. We need to devolve power within England. We already have a London Mayor and Assembly with considerable powers over planning, housing, transport, fire and policing but we now need to go further perhaps with powers to raise money for London infrastructure projects from a tourist tax or hotel bed tax.
We should support similar moves to devolution in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Newcastle. We should establish a cross party constitutional convention to develop considered and realistic proposals over the next few years. These should include measures not just for devolution within England but also for replacement of the House of Lords by a new second chamber made up of representatives of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English counties and city regions as the constitutional cement for our United Kingdom.
We are indeed Better Together.