I welcome unreservedly the decision by our fellow citizens in Scotland to keep the United Kingdom intact.
The result though does underline the need for a new constitutional framework for the four nations that make up the United Kingdom. But the creation of a new relationship will take time if we are to achieve a fair and equable settlement.
Voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had no opportunity to make their views known.
The future of 63 million people was decided by a mere four million. We need a period of reflection and reconciliation, of consideration and compromise to ensure that the settlement lasts for at least another 100 years.
There are, though, some matters that are indisputable. More power given to Scotland must be matched by more powers being to English MPs on purely English concerns.
It was 37 years ago that Tam Dalyell identified the West Lothian Question.
MPs representing Scottish constituencies must no longer be entitled to vote on matters relating purely to other parts of the UK. Their English colleagues cannot vote on Scottish matters.
A better and fairer system of funding must be found. Even the architect of the Barnett Formula acknowledges that it is unjust and unfair to English taxpayers. Scottish Governments’ priorities may often continue to be different to those based in Westminster.
If Scotland is to be given more tax raising power, then the funds provided centrally, must be on a different basis. There must not be a blank cheque underwriting the potential profligacy of a left wing Scottish government.
It is time to reduce the number of MPs sent to Westminster by Scotland. There are more Scottish constituencies per head of population than in England, this must end; particularly if more power is to reside in Edinburgh.
I’m not sure what form regional government in England could take, particularly since we in the North east have already ejected by an overwhelming 78 per cent vote the chance to have a regional assembly, but one thing is certain.
We do need to have a Constitutional Convention held not purely on party political grounds. We need to examine the relationship between the countries of the UK and their parliaments. Do we need an English Parliament and precisely what powers will it have?
What will be the relationships between all parts of the UK (and regions within) with London. What other layers of elected government do we need (want)? If we create a more federal relationship what powers will reside with Westminster?
If that Parliament is to deal only with Foreign Affairs and Defence, can it be reduced in size?
There are many questions that need answers and the danger of the timescale proposed by David Cameron et al is that they will not be found.
We need to carefully consider how we are going to bring about a solution that will not mean that Scotland or indeed another part of the UK feels the need to hold another referendum in 10 years. It is a time where party political advantage must not be sought. It is the next century that is at stake. We need statesmen and women to take their time.
There is a General Election next May. Any attempt to force through fundamental and lasting change on the strength of a few weeks discussion will smack of desperation and gerrymandering will not last. And will be punished by voters on both sides of the border.
Ukip Prospective Parliamentary Candidate,
Berwick upon Tweed