By Derek Bateman
There is one option left to the No side as far as I can see and they won’t take it. It is Reversion. They must rewind, undo, start again and admit everything that went before was a mistake.
They must apply the air brakes, screech to a halt, burn rubber and come to a juddering stop. Dead weight – Darling, McDougall and co – must be jettisoned and the whole Better Together convoy turned around and headed in the opposite direction.
That route takes them on to the same road as Yes but with a slightly different destination. It leads to maximum devolution with virtually everything the Yes side demands included in the deal and a commitment to a restructuring of UK powers clearly heading for federalism.
It would be led by the Prime Minister because only he can deliver and must be wholly backed by the other parties. An unequivocal commitment to cede powers over all areas of taxation and spending including oil and a deal on currency would transform the meaning of a No vote.
The entire British government papers on independence would be wiped out, a public promise to support Scotland over entry to the UN, EU and NATO given and an apology for the wrong-headed campaign of degradation issued.
It would of course be humiliation and split his party, but it has at least a chance of saving the Union. If they do want to save it. It’s always been in the government’s grasp to save the Union, it was only a question of what they would sacrifice to achieve it. And I think we’re now getting the answer.
As you no doubt realised while reading the above paragraphs, they don’t actually care enough about it to take the steps necessary. If the support for Yes continues, it is likely to overtake No before voting but it seems they are prepared to risk all rather than enter into a mature dialogue.
Why? They’ve gone too far down the road now to turn back and would rather face the consequences of losing than admit they have been wrong, another admission that the Union itself doesn’t really matter enough.
And I think the deeper reason is that they know they can live with the result. It remains in their hands after a Yes vote to dictate much of what follows and they can fashion that to their interests.
The argument that it is the end of a long friendship will be revised to say it isn’t the end of anything, just the beginning of a fruitful new relationship. It wasn’t what the government wanted but the bedrock of the Union was always democracy and London respects Scotland’s wish.
“And you don’t get away so easily”, he will say. “Sovereign or not, the Scots will continue to share with us a language (mostly), an economy, joint institutions, a currency, a monarch, our family links and friendships, our military through NATO, the EU with our increased representation, shared diplomatic facilities, democracy, a desire for peace and of course, whisky.”
He will cite the Edinburgh Agreement as the basis for the friendly deal which includes a joint memorandum of understanding that the question of nuclear arms is not in dispute between the nations for the purpose of entry to NATO. It will be resolved bilaterally from within the Alliance.
Every effort will be made to present as close to a united front to the world as possible. He will publicly demur about losing Labour seats and easing in future Tory governments, while his aides will brief furiously Tory delight at the voting coup. The Conservative Right will be grimly satisfied to get rid of the troublesome Scots who have at least taken a fair share of debt with them and allowed their exports to shore up the balance of payments.
Britain’s global image will be enhanced, he will say, by the democratic ethos behind a legally binding referendum, an acceptance of the result, despite the closeness, and the immediate decision that there should be no formal frontier between ancient friends. “I think this shows the world how even countries with disagreements can work together in enlightened self interest if the democratic will is there.”
The hideous No campaign will be deemed a mistake that Cameron allowed to be led by Labour – Darling is already taking the flak – and was against Cameron’s own instincts. Didn’t he make the Don’t Leave Us speeches?
He will also agree to set up annual bilateral Heads of Government meetings in Edinburgh and London to keep relations cordial. He will attend openings of Parliament in Edinburgh.
“Any man can re-write history,” he will say. “But no man can stand in the way of the future. With this deal, we keep a neighbour AND we keep a friend. Only next time we come calling, we must remember to knock.”
Courtesy of Derek Bateman