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The Union Itself Wasn't Broken... But Politics Certainly Is

19/09/2014 17:30 BST | Updated 19/11/2014 10:59 GMT

The outcome of the Scottish referendum will come as a relief to many of us on this side of the border.

The spectre of passport control at Berwick, which would have probably become unavoidable given that Scotland would have had to join Schengen and eliminate passport control from Europe, was an ugly thought.

But No prevailed, as I always expected it would. None of the final polls showed a Yes lead, and I expected the polls to underestimate the strength of the No vote for four main reasons:

a) Voting Yes would be a leap into the unknown - telling a polling company you intend to vote Yes is different from actually doing so. (As seen in Quebec's independence vote in 1995)

b) Such was the pressure applied by the Yes campaign, some people might have been reluctant to admit to intending to vote No. (As seen at the 1992 UK General Election - the 'shy Tories' returned John Major to no.10)

c) Older people support No, and older people are the most likely to actually turn out to vote.

If it weren't for the complacency of David Cameron, I don't think it would even have been close. From the wording of the question to the appointment of Alastair Darling, from 16-year olds having a one-off chance to vote to ex-patriate Scots being excluded, the Yes side had every imaginable advantage.

So what now? The union itself wasn't broken but politics certainly is. We need to think about what the relationship should be between the four countries which make up our United Kingdom.

Is the decades-old Barnett formula still right for the 21st Century?

Should devolution extend to England too?

Should Scotland now get the 'devo max' option that didn't appear on the ballot paper?

Should Scottish MPs continue to vote on English-only issues in Parliament?

These are all thorny issues as we want to decide what the Union should look like to bring it up to date.

That's why UKIP leader Nigel Farage has proposed a Constitutional Convention to find a resolution to these issues. If we bury our heads in the sand, we'll find that the Union is living on borrowed time.