Rule, Britannia — For Now
The Scotland independence referendum — the big project of Scotland's regional Parliament under First Minister Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party — has come up far short, with the "No" side winning a big victory in Thursday's referendum. This comes after a campaign that for a time had scared the markets, and the entire British political system, over the potential consequences of Scottish secession.
With 26 out of 32 local government areas now reporting, the No side leads with 54.3 percent of the vote, against the Yes campaign with 45.7 percent. In the 26 areas that have now reported, the Yes campaign has only won the majority in four of them — though this did include a win in the largest city, Glasgow.
The BBC projects that when all the counting is done, the No campaign will have won with an even slightly higher 55 percent of the vote.
The No side — officially calling itself "Better Together" — led for much of the campaign, until a late surge in the polls by the Yes campaign that put them briefly ahead. As a response to this voter insurgency, the three leaders of the UK's major national parties — Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservatives, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats, and opposition leader Ed Miliband of the Labour Party — promised that there would be new powers granted to Scotland in the event of it staying in the Union.
This promise could potentially lead to an even broader upheaval for Britain: Potential devolution in the rest of United Kingdom, and a tilting of Britain's overall structure toward regional governments. Only time will tell where this process leads — if it can successfully get anywhere at all.
If Alex Salmond lost the referendum, former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, both Scots, come out winners. Darling debated Salmond in public debates and Brown gave a rousing speech for the Better Together campaign on Wednesday, urging Unionist supporters to reclaim their own identities as patriotic Scots, against the claims of the Yes side.