Will Hutton has probably been the most influential writer on the British constitutional state over the last two decades. Last night he issued a call to arms arguing that the party leaders at Westminster have just 10 days to announce a constitutional settlement to ‘save the Union’.
Personally I think it’s a bit late in the day for this kind of move, however well intended. Hutton is making the assumption that reason is operating in this debate, which I don’t think it is. He is right in my opinion that a truly federal UK would be the way to go, especially one which emphasises the importance of cities rather than the nations of the UK. But suggesting this so late in the day just smacks of desperation (and would be portrayed as such by YeSNP) and could backfire badly.
Cameron should have offered a constitutional convention back in 2012 after Salmond requested a referendum. The question of Scottish independence is one that affects everyone in the UK and so everyone in the UK should have had a say, through a convention. The latest Yougov poll is the first serious poll in two years which has given the Yes proposition a lead (of 1 point so within the margin of error) so we need to not panic, keep calm and carry on. But there has clearly been movement towards yes and we must recognise some of the causes behind that.
If there is a no vote, regardless of the margin, I think it is vitally important that there is a constitutional convention to look fundamentally at altering our constitutional configuration and devolving more power to all the regions and cities of the UK as I’ve suggested before. But this should happen in the days after the referendum, not the last few days before it.
Scottish patriots are hard-headed as well as idealistic which is why I think the die was cast in this referendum from the time it was announced. The only thing at this stage that might prevent a no vote are last minute panic gestures to change Scottish minds emanating from a distant and unpopular Conservative led administration at Westminster.
Image courtesy of greensambaman