How should the United Kingdom now run itself? Not in the same way as in the past. That is the first clear answer that follows from the Scottish “No” vote. The country is still united, and by a solid margin, but the status quo has gone.
Yet better answers are still opaque. Standing in Downing Street after the No victory was clear, David Cameron made ambitious commitments: more power to the regions; a financial settlement that is “fair to Scotland” but fair to other regions too; more power to cities. He promised legislation in January and a commission on wider changes. His answers were short on detail and the timing stretches credibility. But all the same, the outcome of the vote, and the various pledges made by the Prime Minister and the other party leaders, open the door to radical change in the way that Britain governs itself on a scale that it has not contemplated for a long time.
That is right, indeed long overdue. The UK is an increasing complex society, projected soon to have the largest population in Europe, with one of the most successful Western economies and yet disparities of income and wealth between social groups and regions which dominate its politics, choke its potential and corrode its sense of national identity—a country united in a desire to be British.