Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom, but the leaders from both the independence movement and the pro-union side demanded change in Westminster in their post-ballot speeches. British Prime Minister David Cameron and his colleagues promised Scotland a plethora of enhanced powers if they voted to stay with the union in the uncertain days leading up to Thursday’s vote. Cameron now appears ready to deliver.
Cameron addressed Scottish "Yes" voters in a speech Friday morning with an emphatic: “We hear you.” Cameron promised that “powers over tax, spending and welfare” would be agreed by November and legislation published by January. Those powers will come through “devolution,” or a relegation of governance powers from the central British government in Westminster to the separate Scottish Parliament. The independence debate has exposed major issues with British governing practices.
“We now have a chance, a great opportunity to change the way the British people are governed and change it for the better,” Cameron said. “We have delivered on devolution in this government and we will do so again in the next parliament. The three pro-union parities have made commitments on further power for the Scottish parliament. We will ensure that those commitments are honored in full.”
Both “Yes” and “No” leaders want change in Westminster after the heated referendum campaign underscored just how unhappy Scots are with the way the British government is being run.
Alistair Darling, a pro-union leader, was criticized for supporting a united Britain that didn’t fulfill the needs of his fellow Scots. But he repeatedly made clear that change was needed, just not through independence. He reiterated his intention to hold Cameron and the rest of the British government responsible for their promises in his victory speech on Friday morning.
“So I am clear that all of the parties who have made shared commitments to change must now start to translate this into action,” Darling said. “I give my commitment to promoting that process. We will work with the people of Scotland in advancing these commitments.”
Alex Salmond, the fiery independence leader, was clearly disappointed with his loss during his post-ballot speech, but immediately promised his constituents to hold Westminster accountable. A wave of applause came from the crowd as Salmond declared “Scotland will expect [union vows] to be honored in rapid course.”