Westminster, scared by last opinion polls which showed Scottish voters turning towards independence, promised too much and now conflict has ever so typically followed.
While The Queen has communicated the desire that we all respect the referendum’s decision there were nasty street riots overnight in at least one Scottish city, Glasgow – Britain’s fourth-largest and one that supported independence.
But such emotion will be short-lived. Far more damaging will be the discord caused within Westminster which may now erupt into a feeling of being short-changed in Scotland.
As one reader commented on a newspaper’s website following the no to independence victory “you had your chance. You muffed it”.
This muff might yet work in Scotland’s best interests except that MPs in Westminster are furious that a former Labour premier until recently judged a fine FinMin but failed prime minister had begun throwing out offers with cross party support but without Westminster’s approval.
Even if Gordon Brown’s heart is in the right place it looks increasingly likely that Tory premier David Cameron will use the constitutional reform as a way to shore up support for his own party ahead of the UK-wide General Election next May.
As well as more powers to Scotland on the agenda are more powers to Wales, Northern Ireland and England.
Also the misnomer since 1997 that has allowed Scottish MPs – principally Labour – to vote on UK and English issues while English and other UK MPs cannot sit and vote in Scotland’s Holywood Parliament could soon end.
The cross-party support that a hurried set of new powers had a week ago is ebbing fast. That is because while more tax and spend powers are planned so too are more powers for other parts of the UK including England – and a block on Scots voting in London.
While an English Parliament is off the agenda the idea that only English MPs are allowed to vote on English laws is one Labour cannot stomach…. The party relies on Scottish Labour MPs to back legislation in London.
Meanwhile it is unclear whether Welsh MPs would be allowed to vote on English laws… since there are technically only three bodies of UK law: England & Wales combined, Scottish and Northern Irish.
The bottom line is that as we approach the May elections the willingness of Westminster to agree on reform will become less realistic. That could mean Scotland has lost the chance to gain more powers that independent destiny might have afforded. Did Scotland muff it? Not really. But expect calls for another vote in 2024 or so…