Constitutional wrangles are debilitating and, in some cases, can be lethal for the countries concerned.
Northern Ireland has suffered from a constitutional wrangle between unionists and nationalists for decades. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland has become the focus of all political debate there, polarising the community and driving party politics to the extremes. During the years of deadlock the economy has stagnated and the everyday concerns of practical politics have been pushed down the agenda. The constitutional wrangle has dominated politics and the province has suffered the consequences.
So there are grounds for concern when we see the constitutional debate in Scotland beginning to take a similarly dominant role here. We have had our referendum and the people have declared their decision. There is to be no constitutional change. Everyone who cares about the future of Scotland and of the UK should respect that decision. Our energies should now be directed towards building our economy, generating more exports, protecting our public services and tackling the social blight of unemployment, inadequate housing, degradation of the environment and crime. Practical issues should move to the top of the agenda, such as guaranteeing our electricity supply once our two ageing nuclear power stations have been decommissioned.
Given the huge practical problems that we face, it is incumbent on our politicians that they put an end to the constitutional wrangle and instead devote their energies to finding solutions to those real problems. Let’s have a break from all the rhetoric and give us some action on improving the state of our country instead!