A majority in Scotland still want change

Should the Westminster parties fail to listen to the Scottish people they will pay a heavy price at the polls.

Should the Westminster parties fail to listen to the Scottish people they will pay a heavy price at the polls

In less than a month, Scotland has become a different country. The referendum may have – narrowly – delivered a No vote, but new and progressive forces have been unleashed which promise that things will never be the same again.

Westminster may have hung on to its political stewardship and breathed an enormous sigh of relief as a result, but it cannot afford to settle back into a comfortable slumber. Things have changed, changed utterly.

The referendum process saw Scots become more politically engaged and assertive than ever before. We are in a new era of civic politics, where it is ordinary people rather than political parties who set the agenda and drive the outcomes.

This is hugely exciting, bringing a freshness and vibrancy to democracy not just in Scotland, but across these islands.

The genesis of this lies in the Yes campaign. It created the biggest popular political movement in Scottish history. Members of different parties joined with those with no party affiliation in a hugely energising, uplifting and positive drive for a fairer, better, greener and more equal Scotland.

This broad, ecumenical campaign encompassed more than 300 local groups across the country as well as sectoral bodies such as Women for Independence, Business for Scotland, Generation Yes for younger people, the artist-led National Collective and Radical Independence.

There was a renaissance of community, street and doorstep politics, bringing both a new confidence and a sense of expectation. This was at its most visible in the few days before the vote, when thousands of people packed into civic spaces across Scotland in an exuberant and good-natured display of flags, dancing and singing.

The vision of Yes ultimately appealed to 1.6 million Scottish voters – 45 per cent of the total – but unfortunately, that wasn’t quite enough to win. And while I will always make the case for independence – and believe that Scotland will become independent – I accept that a majority have not chosen that future at this time.

But a majority – in my view – do want change and so I will work to ensure that the promises of substantial additional powers, made by the Westminster parties days before the vote in an attempt to head off a Yes, are upheld.

It is critical that their pledges are kept. Many people who voted No did so because they believed these vows would be honoured. Polling since the referendum has shown that most people in Scotland want the Scottish Parliament to have control over welfare, pensions and taxation and two thirds want Devo Max – that is, control in Scotland of everything except defence and foreign affairs.

This would not be independence – it would not, for instance, allow us to get rid of Trident, or give us EU member state status – but it would be a major step forward, delivering our chosen levels of public spending, powers to create jobs, the protection of our distinctive NHS and decent social security, and transformative childcare.

This is the settlement, then, that the Scottish people now demand. Should I be elected first minister, I shall work relentlessly for its delivery as well as ensuring that our existing devolved public services – schools, hospitals, police and other services – are of the highest quality.

Should the Westminster parties fail to listen to the voice of the Scottish people on this call for more powers – and it is a loud and clear one – then in my view one thing is certain: they will pay a heavy electoral price at the polls.

High quality service provision and social protections matter in Scotland. This is a country where the consensus between the parties which increasingly defines politics south of the border has been overwhelmingly rejected in favour of a society built on fairness, cohesion and social democracy.

With the rise of UKIP and Tory and Labour parties which continue to move ever rightward, the political gap between Scotland and the UK party establishment continues to grow. It is imperative that Scots are able to make their own choices about how they wish to build their society.

I still believe that independence offers the best way forward, and remain disappointed that it was not the choice we made last month. But these are still good times for Scotland. We are in a period of hope and belief, and the opportunities we now have are unprecedented.

This is a challenge that the Westminster parties must rise to. We can replace poverty with opportunity and austerity with prosperity. The Scottish people are waiting. We are claiming our right, and we expect that claim to be honoured.

Not in the breach, but in the promise.

Nicola Sturgeon MSP is deputy first minister of Scotland and a candidate to replace Alex Salmond as leader of the Scottish National Party

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42 Responses to “A majority in Scotland still want change”

  1. Dave Stewart

    I find the idea that a 10% majority voted no is a “narrowly delivered” no vote a bit odd. Labour won a 12% majority (in terms of number of votes) over the Tories in 97 and that was considered a historic landslide victory. So how a 10% majority can be consider narrow is beyond me.

    Having said that the political brinkmanship of both the Tories and Labour after the No vote has been disgraceful. Cameron should never have linked devolution for Scotland with English votes for English laws as this is not what was offered at the end of the campaign and Milliband although right in not linking the two things clearly doesn’t want to loose Scottish MPs when it comes to voting for English legislation. All major parties should support and push through what they promised for Scotland and then deal with the West Lothian problem separately (in parallel if need be but still separately).

  2. Bill Cruickshank

    The people of Scotland were cheated out of their independence by a dirty tricks campaign orchestrated by Perfidious Albion. This included an unprecedented campaign of negativity and lies waged by the mainstream media both in Scotland and across the UK. Unionist politicians bullied, bribed and blackmailed the people of Scotland into voting No. Examples being: 1. Gordon Brown who terrorised Scotland’s pensioners into believing that they would lose their pensions if they voted YES. It was a downright lie. Even the UK Government itself said pensions were safe in an independent Scotland. 2. Alistair Darling who never tired of telling Scots their oil was running out. Another lie, only days after 18th September, Scots were being told that new technologies would keep their oil running for decades to come. 3. George Osborne who lied when he said Scots would not be allowed to keep the pound. We now know that the Bank of England had contingency plans to back the Scottish pound in the vent of a YES vote.
    There is now much bitterness in Scotland not least among many No voters who now feel they were duped into voting No. Bitterness is also present among many of the 1.6 million Scots who voted YES. They know they have been cheated out of their independence. This bitterness will translate into a massive swing to the SNP and possibly the Greens and the SSP. All three parties have had a substantial increase in their membership. The SNP has gone from 25,000 on the day of the referendum to over 80,000 today.
    Scotland will be independent sooner rather than later and those who betrayed their country and the people of Scotland will never be forgiven or forgotten!

  3. Craig Stewart

    Let me quantify narrow 190,000 votes the other way and Yes would have won. Considering mainstream media and Westminster tugging Big Businesses to create a multitude of scare storys. I thought Sir Ian Woods 20yrs of oil was the peach as, its now claimed that there is at least 100yrs

  4. CharlesPtwo

    You make an error in your assessment in that this was not an ‘Election’ whereby swings could have been shared between a number of Parties. This was a referendum between Two opposing views where a swing of 5% from ‘No’ would have given victory to the other side!
    That the 10% difference was achieved by the foulest of means, and, continues by means of the present chicanery in Westminster, has caused a backlash in Scotland that will see Independence sooner rather than later!

  5. Alistair Sheehy Hutton

    Because the interpretation of margin that applies to a single yes/no question should be different to that of a multi-party election.

    If 6 percentage points less people voted for Labour and switched to other parties that would not have resulted in a majority of votes for the Conservatives as those votes would have been spread amongst all the parties – Labour would still be multiple percentage points clear of second place. In the referendum if 6% had switched from No it would have been a ‘clear’ Yes result by ‘1.4%’

    The result of one-question-two-answer referendums have to be analysed in terms of how close to 50% the results are rather than the difference between the two results as looking at the difference magnifies variation. A 1% higher Yes result means a 2% smaller gap.

    The AV Referendum Result was decisive, the Independence result was close.

  6. Leon Wolfeson

    Whining, still? You lost, get over it.

    Of course you’re bitter, but you are now claiming that everyone really backed you, when they didn’t. Your determination to ignore self-determination and to launch a war is sad, and of course there will be reprisals and attacks on those who didn’t vote for your cause if you get your way.

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    “That the 10% difference was achieved by the foulest of means,”

    Democracy, the foulest of means. Oh my.
    And that’s coup language, ignoring self-determination.

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Miliband, as I’ve said elsewhere, should introduce a bill with exactly what was promised. (And ignoring other issues)

    If the Coalition vote it down, they’ll politically shoot themselves in the foot.

  9. steven simpson

    You honestly believe this was democratic, and that we live in a democracy, by the foulest of means, he’s talking about the scare tactic’s, i.e, pensioners getting told they would lose their pensions, foreigner’s getting told they would automatically be deported if Scotland won independence, told our oil was going to last 20 yrs, when we know its now going to last over a hundred yrs, told we couldn’t keep the pound, when we know now there was a contingency put in place to back the Scottish pound, the list goes on.

  10. lorraine

    David Cameron needs to admit “that he cant manage to run the UK fairly”, as it is all to much for him to cope with and therefore i think he should lighten the load and hand all the powers to Scotland.

  11. steven simpson

    Tell you what, no ones interested in your opinions, the vote went the way you wanted, whats your problem, oh I know, your shitting it from the alarming membership growth rate in the SNP.

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    So you’re no-one. Okay. You’re very interested, and no, I’m not a shitter like you but thanks.

    In fact, much of the growth in the SNP over the last decade seems to be from their stance to the left of Labour as much, if not more, as independence.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    So you don’t like democracy, and think it’s the foulest of means, I heard you the first time.

    And no, 15-20 years remains accurate for the oil…
    We have contingency plans to fight a war with the USA as well. Not saying it’ll happen.

  14. beoffwithyou

    launch a war ? reprisals and attacks ?, seriously what are you on. beoffwithyou

  15. William Davis

    Nicola, where are you getting this idea of ‘Devo Max’ being promised before the referendum?
    None of the Westminster powers promised Devo Max and you know that fully well. Gordon Brown spoke about what powers the Scottish parliament and none of it resembled anything close to the SNP’s plan.
    You lost the referendum and it’s absolutely right that your party shouldn’t be allowed to introduce ‘independence by stealth’. You might not like it, but that’s democracy.

  16. Bill Cruickshank

    I find your reply disturbing and nonsensical. I did not mention “war”, “reprisals” or “attacks”! Your attempt to link my argument with such language is slanderous and reeks of venomous hysteria. Also where is my “determination to ignore self-determination”? That is what the independence referendum was all about i.e. self determination for Scotland. I suspect you do not live in Scotland and know nothing of what went on during the referendum campaign and even less about Scotland, its’ people and its’ politics.

  17. NorthBrit

    Whining, still? Of course you’re bitter but your determination to ignore self-determination and launch a “war” is sad.

    Polls suggest that over 50% of voters born in Scotland voted Yes and the majority of voters aged under 55 voted Yes.

    In the long term, you’re going to lose.

    Get over it.

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah, so it’s about who’s *acceptable* to you as a True Scotsman.
    Hmm, I seem to remember a fallacy there…

    And of course you demand that you’ll rip Scotland out the Union regardless of what people want, and that I should “get over” democracy.

  19. NorthBrit

    You really don’t understand self-determination.

    It means the right to choose to be independent.

    Thanks to people like you, no-one ever moves from Yes to No.

    In the long term Scotland will be free and the Labour party will be extinct. The best of both worlds.

  20. Leon Wolfeson

    So you suspect I’m like you? Okay.


    There is a proposal for things which might work, and which might raise yields, and whose risks are not properly studied. It is not what you claim.

  21. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah, the legal threats, from a Scottish Supremacist.

    Your post’s sitll there.

  22. Guest

    Hi Dave. Still trying to silence me, I see.

  23. Leon Wolfeson

    No, it means the right to decide if there will be independence or not, as you show your intolerance with nonsense proclamation about “no-ones”, denigrating people whose opinions change.

    Not to mention, of course “like you” is PC bigotry.
    And banning political parties, too? Sheesh.

  24. Guest

    “Perfidious Albion”

    It’s you.

  25. Bill Cruickshank

    I am not referring to those who voted No. My accusation lies squarely against unionist politicians like Gordon Brown who promised the “Vow”. Brown and acted as a patsy for Cameron and Miliband. He was not in a position to deliver it and he clearly misled the people of Scotland into believing they would get Federalism. Again I find your language disturbing. Your insults only reflect your lack of credibility and the paucity of your argument.

  26. Bill Cruickshank

    Your link does not work. Funny that!. I have close family and many friends in the oil industry. Scotland’s oil industry has many decades left and I am only talking about the North Sea. West of Shetland and West Coast oil remains largely unexplored.

  27. Bill Cruickshank

    An informational contribution: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfidious_Albion LoL

  28. Guest

    Ah, so you’re arguing from anecdote and personal interest.

    I’m going with the existing studies…or I could argue fusion was going to make oil useful only for petrochemicals, with as much backing.

    (And yes, context for links, thanks!)

  29. Guest

    Yes yes, late changes.

    That you see having values as being a patsy…when Labour haven’t opposed a thing yet… of course you find that disturbing, and you’re arguing with democracy, not me.

  30. Guest

    At least you admit it.

  31. Sydney Bangham

    What a load of twaddle you spout. Oil and Gas People .com have already produced statistics to show that the estimates by sir Ian Wood of between 7 and 19 billion barrels could be as much as three times too low. That in itself takes the estimate to 60 years. And that’s before they start on the same again in the Clair field.
    The substantial offers were made in contravention of the Purdy rules. And don’t say they only announced it because the Record asked for it. They had already mentioned that extra powers would be given before they asked the Daily Record to ask them so that the Record could publish them.
    Then there were the lies spouted by Gordon Brown about pensions and the loss of the Blood Transfusion service when correspondence already existed giving assurances these services were safe.
    It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, it was a dirty tricks campaign by the “No” campaign and the media. Even a host on question time said he had received an e-mail concerning the Royal Bank’s intention to move its head office before they had even decided whether or not they would move. And he confirmed on air that he had not requested it.
    There will be another and it won’t be very far into the future. I don’t think the people of Scotland will be deceived a second time.

  32. Julia

    Those who supported building a fairer system in society won the arguement. Those who employed the well tested Imperial machine won the vote.
    Fear is no foundation for future improvements. It is a holding tactic only. If the UK system continues in it’s present fashion then the journey to Independence will continue.
    People from Labour / SNP / SSP / Green and even some Conservatives voted for change.
    Those who think the debate “won” and a settled matter are fools.

  33. NorthBrit

    “decide if there will be independence or not” is incoherent nonsense. Clear English is the first casualty of Labour Party membership.

    Self determination is the right of a nation to choose to govern itself. It does not have to be exercised, but it should not be taken away.

    I don’t want the Labour Party to be banned. I want it to disappear unlamented from Scottish political life.

    However, your side, first Jack Straw and now his Tory allies are trying to ban self-determination for Scotland, because they are scared of what democracy will bring.

    In the long run you are going to lose. Try to lose the bitterness. It’s ugly, like the Scottish Labour party.

  34. Leon Wolfeson


    You are talking Orwellian nonsense, as you spew an attack based on your incorrect assumptions I’m a Labourite. I am not, I am a left winger. Borders do not benefit workers, and you lost the vote. Get over it.

  35. Guest

    Democracy is for fools? k.

  36. Mark Coburn

    What you’re forgetting dear anonymous fellow guest is that the Tories are about to introduce English Votes for English Laws. I’d advise you to study the consequences of this as it will put a further wedge between Scotland and England. If you are a unionist argue the merits of NP Scottish Parliament because we shall see very shortly the precarious nature of devolution and the union itself. Hint read Gordon Brown’s comments in yesterday’s Telegraph.

  37. Scott Dearden

    Thing about democracy is that people have the right to keep campaigning after they lose a vote. Furthermore the demos has the right to change its mind over time. There will be another referendum eventually be it in 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. And the YES campaign has demographic trends squarely on it’s side. So yes, anyone that thinks the debate is over is indeed a fool.

  38. Keith M

    Well said Bill.

  39. Keith M

    Many who voted NO expected something else – they were well and truly shafted.

  40. Bill Cruickshank

    Thanks Keith I appreciate that.

  41. johnproblem

    What is astonishing is the fact that nobody on the ‘Yes’ side brought up in detail the huge amounts of Scottish tax used by Westminster on such Scottish matters as Border Patrol in Dover, Defence , and colossal ‘admin services’ for running Westminster.

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