PBS NewsHour

How will Scotland’s vote change the U.K. power balance?

Revelers wrapped in a St Andrew's or Saltire flag, the national flag of
         Scotland, sit on a bench following Scottish independence referendum result night celebrations in George Square in Glasgow,
         U.K., on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scotland voted to remain in the U.K. after an independence referendum that put the future
         of the 307-year-old union on a knife edge and risked years of political and financial turmoil. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
         via Getty Images

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JUDY WOODRUFF: And for more on the significance of the result of the referendum and what comes next, we turn to Louise Richardson, principal and vice chancellor at the University of St. Andrew’s, and David Rennie. He’s Washington bureau chief for “The Economist” magazine.

Welcome to both of you.

Louise Richardson, I’m going to begin with you.

Were you surprised at the margin of victory for the no vote?  It was 10, almost 11 points.

LOUISE RICHARDSON, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of St. Andrews: I think everyone was surprised by the margin of victory, but we all had so little to go on because this was such an unprecedented occasion.

And we were seeing 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds vote for the first time. We were seeing an electorate in which 30 percent had only recently registered. We were seeing a — looking at a turnout of 85 percent, so it was very difficult to predict. But I think most people were surprised by the margin of victory, yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Rennie, were you surprised?

DAVID RENNIE, The Economist: I think so.

And, remember, the polls had looked so sort of safe and solid for the no camp until just a few weeks ago. You had the sort of 20-point lead for the camp that was going to keep the U.K. together. And then, suddenly, that lead just collapsed very, very quickly in the last two or three weeks.

And all that movement seems to be with lower-income, left-wing voters, often slightly older voters. And so there was clearly just a big shift taking place. And one of the first analyses of what happened last night is that they just didn’t turn out in quite such massive numbers as some of the more affluent pro-union voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Louise Richardson, we’re now being told — I’m reading that, no, there won’t be independence for Scotland, but there is going to be a big change in the relationship between Scotland and London, the home government, and as well as a change for Wales, England, for Northern Ireland.


I think this referendum in Scotland will prove to be a catalyst for constitutional change throughout the United Kingdom. And in the past few weeks, as the London parties decided that they actually could win this — could lose this campaign, even though they had been somewhat complacent for much of the campaign, they came up to Scotland. They promised what is called devo max.

They promised significant new powers for Scots if they would vote no. They promised for tax-raising powers, more powers over issues like benefits, which are very important to people who are voting. And this means, I think, that there will be more power going to Scotland, but it raises the question, what’s called in Britain the West Lothian question, of what this means for Westminster, where English members of Parliament can vote only on — Scottish members of Parliament can vote only on issues pertaining to English constituencies, but English constituents can’t vote for Scots.

So, I think there is a real sense, but especially I think in the back benches of the Tory party, that it’s time for some change. And I think we have seen Prime Minister Cameron today indicate that he’s going to address those concerns.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Rennie, so, is it believed that the government is going to carry through on these promises?

DAVID RENNIE: Yes, I can imagine that here in the United States, this may seem a bit esoteric, something for the constitutional lawyers.

But I think what people need to understand is that what really has happened, even with the vote to stay together, is that the sleeping beast of English nationalism has been woken, because there is an English backlash today, because essentially a lot of people south of the border think the Scots were bribed to stay with some more privileges.

And what’s really happened now is that Scottish voters feel a bit like super voters. They have exclusive rights over other Scottish stuff, schools and hospitals, other things, but they also get a say, decisively sometimes, on what happens down south in England.

English voters now feel more like second-class voters, because they can only vote on English stuff, not on Scottish stuff. So, what is really happening now is, remember, the English are five-sixths of the population of this — of the United Kingdom. They feel slightly sort of shoved into second place, that the Scots have been bribed with all these promises.

And that’s a really unprecedented thing, to have English nationalism stalking around as a big political force, putting pressure on David Cameron, the prime minister.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Louise Richardson, coming out of this, the U.K. is more politically unsettled?

LOUISE RICHARDSON: Well, yes, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I think British people are now very much engaged. It has been an extraordinary exercise in democracy these past few months in Scotland. We have never seen anything like it. Few democracies have. I think it’s worth remembering that many countries fought civil wars over whether one region had a right to secede.

And here in Britain, it’s been democratic — with a democratic vote, with everybody accepting the will of the majority, a peaceful, robust debate. So I think it is a real statement of the strength of British democracy. And if it’s a little unsettled, that’s good, because it means the public is more engaged.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But what about — David Rennie, what about the independence movement itself?  Is that going to continue?

DAVID RENNIE: Well, you have seen the leader of the independence movement, the boss of the Scottish government, resigning because of this loss.

He will be replaced, but he is kind of irreplaceable. I mean, Scotland is a small country. He was really the absolutely dominant sort of big political beast. He was the really talented politician up there. I think, personally, if I had to bet, the new few years, thing to keep an eye on is that sleeping giant the five-sixths of the country, the English nationalists.

You will see calls for an English parliament. You will demands to have English M.P.s. having exclusive rights to vote on English subjects. And let’s work out, this is a big fight about power. Scotland is basically a left-wing country. England has more or less a conservative majority, a narrow conservative majority.

The country as a whole is kind of finely balanced. It’s purple, if you like. So this is a blue country, red country, purple, gigantic power struggle that’s about to break out.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Louise Richardson, finally, what does that mean in terms of the U.K.’s relationship with other countries, the United States, Europe and others?

LOUISE RICHARDSON: Well, there can be little doubt that Britain would have been very weakened had Scotland decided to separate.

The whole question of Britain’s membership, England’s membership in the E.U. is going to subject to yet another referendum. So I think, going forward, most countries like to deal with unitary actors. And it’s — few countries can really understand the depth of domestic politics in other countries. And it looks as though English, British domestic politics are going to be more complex, which will complicate relations with other countries, but the fundamentals are unaffected.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And it sounds like that’s what you’re saying too.

DAVID RENNIE: Absolutely.

Are we going to be looking inward?  Are we still a global, outward-looking partner for America, or are there now an increasing number of English who quite fancy being something a bit like Switzerland, kind of rich and inward-looking and just shunning the rest of the world?  Those forces are definitely out there now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Rennie, Louise Richardson, we thank you both.


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Scotland says ‘no thanks’ to independence

NO THANKS monitor scotrland vote

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the votes are in and the no’s have it. Polls had flip-flopped in recent weeks, but in the end, Scotland’s residents decided to stay in their 307-year-old union with the United Kingdom.

A dreary mist shrouded the Scottish capital of Edinburgh this morning, matching the moods of 1.6 million people who’d voted for independence, only to see it lose.

CHERYL BURGAR, Yes Scotland supporter: It shows that still there are a lot of people in Scotland that didn’t want that. It’s not like — it’s not a landslide vote. So we think that’s a good thing overall, even if it is still no, because it’s going to show that we’re not — we’re not all happy with the way things are.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The official announcement came in the early morning hours.

MARY PITCAITHLY, Chief Consulting Officer, Scotland: The majority of valid votes cast yesterday by the people of Scotland in response to the referendum question, should Scotland be an independent country, were in favor of no.


JUDY WOODRUFF: From the no campaign headquarters, the cheer was deafening.

MAN: I’m happy that in the morning I’m going to wake up Scottish and I’m going to wake up British. I’m just so happy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The leader of the no side, Alistair Darling, was triumphant.

ALISTAIR DARLING, Leader, Better Together campaign: The people of Scotland have spoken.


ALISTAIR DARLING: We have chosen unity over division and positive change, rather than needless separation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The breakdown showed 55 percent voted to stay with the United Kingdom, while 45 percent voted to leave. And the unprecedented turnout topped 85 percent. Despite his disappointment, despite his disappointment, yes campaign leader Alex Salmond said the turnout was a huge point of pride.

ALEX SALMOND, First Minister of Scotland: This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Salmond has been at the forefront of Scotland’s pro-independence movement for decades, but, today, he announced he’s resigning as Scottish first minister.

ALEX SALMOND: We lost the referendum vote, but Scotland can still carry the political initiative. Scotland can still emerge as the real winner. For me as leader, my time is nearly over. But for Scotland, the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In London, with the threat of separation past, Prime Minister David Cameron renewed his promise to begin granting Scotland more powers.

DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: We have delivered on devolution under this government, and we will do so again in the next Parliament. The three main pro-union parties have made commitments, clear commitments on further powers for the Scottish Parliament. We will ensure that those commitments are honored in full.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Even so, there were complaints from some in Cameron’s own Conservative Party ranks that the promises are too generous. And Queen Elizabeth issued her own statement, speaking of her enduring love of Scotland and urging the entire nation to work together in mutual respect and support.

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Iranian foreign minister on U.S. strategy on Islamic State, sanctions


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to Iran and our interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

He is in New York this week for the so called P5-plus-one talks on that country’s nuclear program, as questions loom over whether a deal can be reached by a late November deadline and what will happen if there is no agreement.

Earlier today, our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, asked about that, the U.S. strategy in fighting the Islamic State militant group, and why Tehran has ruled out working with Washington to defeat the organization.

MARGARET WARNER: Minister Zarif, thank you for joining us.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Foreign Minister, Iran: Very good to be with you.

MARGARET WARNER: Today, France joined the U.S. in launching airstrikes in Iraq against the I.S., ISIS, militants. Do you think that’s going to be an effective strategy to counter these militant forces?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, I believe the international community should come to realize that this is a common threat, a common challenge, and it requires a common response.

In our view, the response should come from the region and supported by the international community, not the other way around. We have been cooperating with the government of Iraq and the government of — or the regional government of Kurdistan in order to defeat these terrorists, because we consider these terrorists a threat to all nations in the region and beyond because — because of all these foreign fighters that you have.

MARGARET WARNER: So you and President Obama are really on the same page on this. That is that the international community can assist maybe from the air, training and equipping, but not getting involved on the ground?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, I believe the Iraqis themselves are quite capable of liberating their territory.

What the international community needs to do is to prevent assistance to the terrorists, which has been coming, unfortunately, over the past three, four years from various quarters in the region and outside the region.

MARGARET WARNER: So you’re talking about Saudi Arabia, some of the other Gulf states that have helped with financing and training?  You’re talking about Turkey that’s allowed foreign fighters to cross over into Iraq and Syria?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, I’m not in the business of naming names.

We are willing to work with them, particularly with our friends in the region, in order to defeat this threat, but defeat it fundamentally, not simply by military action.

MARGARET WARNER: But, by all accounts, President Rouhani’s government has rebuffed overtures from President Obama’s government to actually cooperate

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Because we were not convinced that the United States government was serious.

I’m sure that what happened yesterday in the House and the Senate, approving the request of President Obama for financing the Syrian opposition, doesn’t correspond well with an attempt to fight terrorism. If you undermine the central government in Syria, that would enable the I.S. terrorists to gain even more territory.

And we see this as basically contradiction in terms of trying to defeat ISIS, but at the same time funding those who are trying to undermine the very government that is withstanding ISIS terrorists. Those forces who are operating on the ground in Syria are, unfortunately, ISIS and people of the same color.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Almost a majority of them. At least a majority of those who control any territory in Syria are either ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra or other..

MARGARET WARNER: Al-Qaida-linked groups.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: … fringe al-Qaida groups.

We do not believe that supporting these groups will help the process of democratization and respect for the will of the people in Syria.

MARGARET WARNER: But you are a major patron. You are a major patron of the Syrian government. Can you not use your influence with the Syrian government to, in fact, encourage them, force them to make such an inclusive arrangement with their own opposition?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Actually, nobody can force anybody in our region. We have an influence in Iraq. We have influence in Syria. We have influence in the region. The reason we have influence is that we do not impose our will on the countries in the region.

MARGARET WARNER: Well, but many would point out that the Shiite-backed Hezbollah fighters have in fact moved up from Lebanon to assist President Assad.

But let me move on to the other major item on your plate, one reason you’re here early before UNGA week, which is the nuclear negotiations. You face a two-month deadline now to finish this second phase and really finish a deal. Do you think there’s any prospect of getting there?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, I think there’s every prospect of getting there, provided that people want to address the problem, not the constituencies.

There are two ways of resolving this problem. One is to try to resolve this problem, and the other one is try to appease those who do not see any resolution, whatever the parameters of that resolution may be, in their interests.

So if we abandon the second alternative and put our focus on the first alternative, then I believe that a solution is at hand. Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons. Iran doesn’t need nuclear weapons. The only problem, if I may, is this basically infatuation, obsession with sanctions. Sanctions do not achieve any objective. Sanctions simply put pressure on the people.

MARGARET WARNER: But those in the United States that don’t trust Iran say, well, Iran has an obsession with building a gigantic nuclear infrastructure that they don’t need for energy purposes, that will be nuclear weapons-ready.

I mean, don’t you have a problem of the hard-liners on both sides, when you’re talking about constituencies?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, there may be lunatics everywhere.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: But no serious person in Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon, because people have very serious strategic calculations.

What we can suggest to people, there is a lot of mistrust to go around. I mean, Iranians don’t trust the United States. We can change that. And it’s important for all of us to try to — instead of living in the past, to try to write a new history. And writing a new history is to try to come to arrangements that would scientifically prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

MARGARET WARNER: So, if the Iranian government wants to persuade the rest of the world that, as you say, the intentions are purely peaceful, why not agree to the much lower level of centrifuges, number of centrifuges that the United States and the Western powers are insisting upon?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Because we’re not here to accept arbitrary decisions. We’re here to negotiate.

But what we are suggesting is not that you have to take this or leave it. We are saying that let’s consider together how best we can do this. We have agreed to limit, for a certain number of years, the number of centrifuges that will be spinning. And that is out of no necessity, simply in order to create confidence. But I’m not prepared to accept any arbitrary numbers.

MARGARET WARNER: OK. Now, of course, Iran then wants all of these sanctions rolled back and lifted. Many of those would require, to be permanently lifted, U.S. congressional approval.

As you well know, there’s a lot of opposition to that. Would Iran accept something less, for instance, just having President Obama waive those?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, obviously, I — I do not engage in negotiations on the air, but we understand U.S. politics. We understand the constraints that President Obama is facing.

As we don’t accept them asking us to do the impossible, we will not ask them to do the impossible.

MARGARET WARNER: So, if President Obama wanted to do something of an end-run around Congress, that would be enough assurance for you?


We deal with the government. Of course, we know the complexities, the domestic complexities involved. But as a sovereign state, we deal with the United States government as a sovereign state. We do not interfere in the internal domestic politics of the United States. If President Obama promises us to do something, we will accept and respect his promise.

MARGARET WARNER: So is an extension beyond the November 24 deadline possible?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I don’t think so. And I’m not prepared at this stage to entertain that idea.

I’m not saying that November 24 is a doomsday. I’m saying that we should put all our energy into reaching an agreement by that time.

MARGARET WARNER: So no brinksmanship?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I believe this issue requires statesmanship, not brinksmanship. And I’m prepared to exercise as much of that as I can possibly do.

MARGARET WARNER: Despite the political price that President Rouhani and you and your government are paying for this at home?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, leadership requires courage, and I hope that everybody is prepared to exercise that courage.

I believe we are at the point in history that we can. In fact, what we do has an impact on the future of our region and the future of the perceptions of two nations towards one another. So we should seize this opportunity.

MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Minister, thank you very much.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Thank you for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On our Web site, you can see more of Margaret’s interview with Foreign Minister Zarif, including his comments on Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who has been jailed in Tehran for almost two months.


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News Wrap: Rice says U.S. ready for Syria airstrikes


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JUDY WOODRUFF: France joined the U.S. in the skies over Iraq today, conducting its first airstrikes on the Islamic State group. Military video showed attacks on a logistics depot, plus a munitions and fuel dump. Officials said dozens of militants were killed. And President Francois Hollande promised more to come ,within limits.

PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through interpreter): Other actions are expected in the coming days with the same goal, to weaken this terrorist organization and come to the aid of Iraqi authorities. By that, I mean the Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga based in Iraq. There are no French troops on the ground, only planes which, in liaison with the Iraqi authorities and in coordination with our allies, are weakening the terrorist organization.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in Baghdad, car bombings killed at least 30 people at a Shiite mosque and markets. And, in Washington, Obama signed a bill to arm and train Syrian rebels for the fight against Islamic State forces.

Sectarian fighting in Yemen escalated sharply today, as Shiite rebels battled Sunni militiamen in the capital. The rebels attacked the headquarters of state TV in Sanaa, after surging out of northern Yemen in recent months. The pro-U.S. government is largely caught between the warring factions.

The World Health Organization is appealing for renewed efforts against Ebola in West Africa, despite the murders of eight health workers. Their team was attacked in a remote part of Guinea. Meanwhile, a three-day national lockdown began in Sierra Leone to slow the disease. Aid workers went door to door today with health tips and soap.

And Bloomberg News reported that the Centers for Disease Control now estimates a worst-case scenario of 550,000 cases, before the outbreak subsides.

A storm over domestic violence by pro football players drew a new pledge today from the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that new rules on personal conduct are coming. He acknowledged mishandling the case of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice, but he said, “Now I will get it right.”

ROGER GOODELL, Commissioner, National Football League: The same mistakes can never be repeated. We will do whatever it is necessary to ensure that we are thorough in our review process and that our conclusions are reliable. We will get our house in order first.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Goodell said he doesn’t plan to resign from his post as commissioner.

Also today, President Obama launched a new effort against sexual assaults on college campuses. The It’s On Us campaign aims to send a message that it’s everyone’s responsibility. The president criticized what he called the — quote — “quiet tolerance of sexual assault.”

In the Philippines, widespread flooding from a tropical storm and monsoon rains shut down Manila today with neck-high water in places. The floods drowned whole sections of Manila after more than 10 inches of rain fell over a 24-hour period. At least three people died and some 37,000 others were displaced.

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has been fined nearly $5,000 million for bribing doctors in China. The police ministry said that British national Mark Reilly, who was the company’s former China manager, paid doctors to use Glaxo’s products beginning in 2009. He was ordered today to leave the country immediately.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 13 points to close at 17,279. The Nasdaq fell 13 to close at 4,579. And the S&P dropped a point to 2,010. For the week, the Dow gained 1.7 percent. The S&P was up 1.3 percent. And the Nasdaq rose a fraction of a percent.

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