Saturday, 20 September 2014

The audacity of nope..

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – preserved!

The final number is N0 55%, Yes 45% - which, after the last few weeks, feels like a bigger win than it is. Separatism is defeated but not dead. The PM and his opposite number, meanwhile, have are left with much to ponder.

Just a few months after being humbled by one populist politician – Nigel Farage-  in the European elections, David Cameron and Ed Miliband came perilously close to being permanently undone by another in the shape of Alex Salmond. Nor can they say with any honesty that they’ve worked out how to tackle the underlying problem; that is, a lack of faith in London’s politicians to get anything done. Instead, they had to dig a politician from another era out of the freezer.

The Conservatives have been reminded that the PM’s tendency to govern by essay crisis will, sooner or later, be his undoing. The mood on the backbenches – and the frontbenches for that matter – is pretty unhappy. They feel that the PM sold the constitution down the river off the back of some bad polls. Who knows what effect a Ukip gain in Clacton – remember that? – will have on Tory morale.

As for Labour? We now know for sure that Labour’s wafer-thin lead is good for nothing this far out from the election. For all the cross-party sheen to Better Together, behind the scenes, it was a Labour operation from start to finish. The question they must be asking themselves is this: what happens when the British public start paying attention in the last weeks of April 2015? And who do they have who can have the same stabilising effect that Gordon Brown had?

All of these, however, are questions for another time. Yes, it’s some way from the thumping defeat for nationalism that Downing Street dreamed of, but as Winston Churchill said: one is enough. There are questions ahead about the Barnett formula and the West Lothian question, but for now: Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom. Forget the questions about how we got here and what happens next for a moment. Just congratulate our forces and rejoice at that news.

LET ENGLAND SHAKEThis morning the PM spoke of "a balanced settlement", with "a bigger say" for the voters of England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well. In addition to the constitutional arguments, it's important for Mr Cameron's position that he is seen to be taking the English question seriously.  Later today, Tory whips will meet to discuss how to maintain party discipline over the coming weeks. The evidence is that they have a job of work ahead of them. Claire Perry, the rail minister, has warned against giving out"financial party bags" to Scotland which have to be paid for "by us south of the border". Meanwhile, Conservative backbencher James Gray has savaged the PM's pledge to maintain the Barnett formula in perpetuity: "Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want.". Mr Gray's put to words what many of his colleagues are saying privately. It's not just the Conservatives who are calling for greater powers for England, either: John Denham was sounding the call on Newsnight yesterday, while Jim Murphy this morning conceded that the constitutional anomaly of Scottish MPs voting on English laws will have to change.
Labour fears that their planned mansion tax could hit their voters in marginal London seats, Laura Pitel reports in the Times. A quarter of the seats that would hit by the tax are currently in Labour hands.
Restrictions on travel, similar to those that can be deployed to prevent forced marriage, must be introduced to protect women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation, Yvette Cooper tells the House Magazine. Holly Watt has the story.

Doctor Who is "too unhappy" and Peter Capaldi's performance has "no joy", Yvette Cooper tells The House magazine. "I really like Peter Capaldi but I'm worried that he's really unhappy. It's not just that he's darker, it's like there's no joy at the moment."  You can read the full interview here.
What have you done for me lately? That's the joint call from local newspapers in Manchester, Newcastle, Yorkshire and Middlesborough today, while David Sparks, Chair of the Local Government Association, has called for further powers for local areas in England and Wales.
The chief executives of Kingfisher and Nomura are among the signatories to a letter from business leaders calling for the minimum wage to rise faster now that growth has returned to the economy.
And so to Manchester for Labour Party Conference. You can liven up the Conference season by playing Demos' Fantasy Politics - collect points for front-pages, buzzwords and so forth.  Speaking of Demos, I'll be in the chair for their panel on self-employment on Sunday, details are here
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as @stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams; you can see his cartoons on Instagram.

Conservatives 33% Labour 36% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15% Others 9%
Poll of polls 12th to 19th September (Ipsos Mori-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) 
YouGov: Con 33% Lab 35% LD 8% Ukip 14% 
@janemerrick23:  It is not a new dawn, is it?
From the Telegraph
James Kirkup - What happens now?
Jenny Hjul - After a Yes vote, surely Alex Salmond has got to go?
Daniel Hannan - Thank god, my country is still intact

From elsewhere
Philip Collins - Labour are the real losers of the referendum  (Times)
Helen Lewis - Devolution strikes back  (Statesman)
The Telegraph Festival of Business is taking place once again on the 11th November, at The Brewery, London. Confirmed speakers include: Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Nigel Wilson,Chief Executive of Legal & General, Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado and Roger Bootle, Founder of Capital Economics and former HM Treasury Advisor. To register for your free place at the event, click here.