World·Analysis

Scotland's No vote doesn’t mean satisfaction with the way things are: Margaret Evans

All eyes will be on British Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake the Scotland's vote to stay within the United Kingdom, and critics are already wondering if he's promised more than he can deliver, Margaret Evans writes.

Critics question whether British PM David Cameron has promised more than he can deliver

"It was a private conversation, but clearly a private conversation that I shouldn't have had and won't have again," David Cameron said. (Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)

British Prime Minister David Cameron lost no time in popping out of that famous door on Downing Street after the results of yesterday’s Scottish referendum were no longer in doubt. 

Accused of being asleep at the wheel while Scottish separatists made an open play for the keys to the kingdom, he’s anxious to be seen taking charge and taking Scotland seriously. 

His timetable for handing over more power to Edinburgh, as promised if the Scots voted to stay in, is ambitious.

"I can announce today that Lord Smith of Kelvin ... has agreed to oversee the process to take forward these devolution commitments," he told the cameras, "with powers over tax, spending and welfare all agreed by November and draft legislation published by January."

Critics are already asking if he’s bitten off more than he can deliver, especially by throwing Wales, England and Northern Ireland into the mix. 

A British election looms next year and Cameron lives in an uneasy coalition with the Liberal Democrats. 

He’s facing a potential leadership challenge from the popular mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and his Conservative Party is bleeding support to the U.K.’s Independence Party.

Beyond that, he and other Westminster politicians simply have little credibility in Scotland. 

“They can’t even back [their promises] up with fact,” a man wearing a kilt told me as he wearily found his way home early this morning in Edinburgh after staying up to hear the results.

“Their own MPs say they’re not even going to vote for [devolution].”

As he conceded defeat this morning, Scottish First Minister and SNP Leader Alex Salmond said all Scots, not just those who backed independence, will be watching Cameron. 

And he’s right. 

For many Scots, the vote to stay in the union does not equate to satisfaction with the status quo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margaret Evans

Europe correspondent

Margaret Evans is a correspondent based in the CBC News London bureau. A veteran conflict reporter, Evans has covered civil wars and strife in Angola, Chad and Sudan, as well as the myriad battlefields of the Middle East.

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