Changes on the way following referendum result

Aberdeenshire count in the AECC
Aberdeenshire count in the AECC

Scotland may have voted to remain part of the United Kingdom last Thursday, but politicians from both sides of the debate agree that the outcome will herald change.

With politicians opposed to Scottish independence promising more devolved powers, the call is now for major changes to the way the UK is governed.

Last Friday brought the first major change as Alex Salmond announced his decision to stand down as both Scotland’s First Minister and as leader of the Scottish National Party. He will, however, continue as MSP for Aberdeenshire East.

Lord Smith, who has been appointed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to head a commission on devolving more powers to the Scottish Parliament warned that all parties would need to be able to compromise before an agreement is reached.

Speaking in the first debate to be held at Holyrood since the referendum on Tuesday (September 23), the outgoing First Minister said “Scotland now has the most politically engaged population in western Europe and one of the most engaged in any country, anywhere in the democratic world.”

And all sides have hailed the level of political engagement in Scotland generated by the referendum and the 84.5 per cent turn-out of voters.

Both SNP and the Scottish Green Party have announced that membership in their respective parties has risen as an outcome of the referendum. More than 26,000 people have joined the SNP nationally and 3,800 have joined the Green’s, with the Aberdeenshire branch reporting 140 new members.

Mr Salmond said: “The Scottish referendum has brought a new confidence to the people of Scotland and we should be very proud of what has been achieved.

“The campaign has inspired a new wave of political engagement and has re-energised democracy here in Scotland

“The benefits of this can and will flow into all aspects of Scottish life.”

And commenting on the rise of Green Party membership, John McCallum, convenor of the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Green Party branch, said, “I am delighted to be welcoming so many new Green Party members to our local branch. The huge boost to our membership will stand the Party in good stead in the elections to come.

“We can confidently look forward to fielding more candidates, running stronger campaigns and seeing more Greens elected over the next few years.”