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Britain after 5 May

May 5th, 2011, was a pivotal day for Britain, democratic reform, the fate of the Union and the party political landscape. The resounding 'No' to the referendum on introducing the Alternative Vote system arguably killed the electoral reform agenda in Britain for at least a generation. While those who believed a fairer voting system was needed and possible, whether for AV, PR or some other system, licked their wounds, the Union was rocked by the astonishing victory of the Scottish National Party north of the border. So while the archaic and peculiar status quo of British representative democracy was enforced, the grip of the traditional Westminster parties loosened, if it didn't break. The Liberal Democrats faced a crisis of identity and purpose reflecting directly on their role as the junior partner in power. Meanwhile, the Conservatives were emboldened by the local election results, increasing tensions in the Coalition. We published 28 articles in the direct aftermath of 'vote day'. The Scottish content went on to become our longer debate, 'The Scottish Spring'.

UK needs a Convention for a renewed federal union: an argument from Wales

Welsh Assembly Member David Melding argues that ‘Little Britain’, as a truncated union of England and Wales, would be unlikely to survive

The Death of Positive Unionism: 10 reasons why there will be a single Scots referendum vote

To hold two referendums on Scottish independence would be without grounding or precedent, and dangerous for politics in Scotland and the UK. Westminster must drop this idea if they are to set forth a positive vision of the Union

Where is the positive Scottish nationalism?

The Scottish First Minister is claiming that the independence of the country's legal system is under threat, while his critics say he's playing politics. Is the SNP preparing to deploy shameless tactics to win the referendum on Scottish independence?

Festival of Britain 2011: microcosm of a troubled Union

As Scotland faces the prospect of a vote on independence, the Festival of Britain 2011 is underway in central London. Designed to celebrate the anniversary of the 1951 exhibition and capture the spirit of modern Britain, the festival instead reveals a Union in crisis and denial

England needs an independence conversation

The English no longer know who they are. The Scottish do. Labour must learn from the Scots in rediscovering an optimistic Englishness that embraces the future with confidence

The BBC's silence on Scotland and the politics of Little Britain

The SNP majority win in Scotland is of momentous importance to the United Kingdom. Yet the BBC's post-election coverage has been notably silent on Scotland, reflecting a deep crisis of unionism

Conflicting fantasies of Scottish independence - and building a reality

Scottish independence has long been a political fantasy. Before the elections, the SNP allowed for conflicting visions of an independent future. Now, whatever the referendum result, we must listen and engage with each-other's hopes for Scotland

How do we talk about Scotland?

How should we talk about Scotland and the coming referendum on independence? A non-partisan debate is needed that includes all the nations, acknowledges the English question, and exists outside of the Westminster circle. But how will this be achieved?

What next for Britain's purple people?

Those who campaigned for a 'Yes' vote in the recent referendum have lost a battle but the larger cause of democracy in Britain still cries out. What should they do?

Losing the AV referendum: a personal view from the Conservative Yes Campaign

The Chairman of the Conservative Yes Campaign describes how his party was sidelined from what was intended to be an all party campaign. He argues that the support of the Conservatives and Greens was critical to a Yes vote, while the Lib Dems' decision to take the lead set them on the road to failure

After AV - a debate on what next

A Lib Dem and an OK Co-Editor strike different notes as they respond to the ruins of Britain's AV referendum campaign

The emotions of Britishness and being English, a response to David Mitchell

David Mitchell has said that the prospect of Scottish independence makes him worried about his British national identity. Gareth Young responds by asking Mitchell and other Brits who wish to save the Union to imagine a multi-national Britain that embraces hybridity instead of relying on Anglo-centric notions of Britishness

A Beginner’s Guide to Scottish Independence and Britain

Many in England don't understand the country they live in let alone Scotland. Here is a helping hand.

Scotland's opportunity is about more than 'independence'

Something profound and genuinely radical is taking place in Scotland.

To protect the Union, England and the centre-left must start fighting now

Following the SNP's unexpected triumph, full or fiscal independence for Scotland are suddenly real possibilities. Salmond has five years to call a referendum, and the result is critical for the whole UK. Both the Conservatives and Labour will fight to protect the Union, but the centre-left has more to lose

The Northern Ireland Assembly elections revealed the failures of devolution

The big story of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections was not the re-instating of the DUP and Sinn Fein, but the dramatic fall-off in turnout. Voter apathy reveals the failures of devolution in such vital areas as education, public service management and the control of paramilitary violence

Scotland's perfect storm: a long-term SNP supporter reflects on Salmond's triumph

It's been a long journey since 1970, when the SNP gained its first MP in a general election, to the 5th of May, 2011, when the party won an unprecedented majority in the Scottish Parliament. After the historic result, Ryan Gallagher asks his father, a long-term SNP supporter, what does the future hold?

Know your enemy – never underestimate the Tories

Last Thursday's election revealed the power of the traditional British establishment. The lessons of history show that the left must never underestimate the Tories

The SNP won through faith in a Scottish future; now they must make it real

The debate in England over Scottish independence misses the point. It was the SNP's ambition and positivity, not the independence issue, that won them the Parliamentary majority. Now they must be more bold still, and build a path towards a distinctively Scottish future

The AV vote was a fiasco. But then, UK referendums are undemocratic

Much of the blame for the No to AV vote lays with Nick Clegg, Compass and the Electoral Reform Society. But we must also acknowledge the illegitimate and ultimately undemocratic nature of referendums in the UK

How the beat of Scottish nationalism is becoming the nation's music

It has taken 40 years for the Nationalists to become the dominant force in Scottish politics. The SNP's victory has changed the story of Scotland and of the UK itself. But a referendum on independence is not enough. We must open a pluralist conversation about the kind of Scotland we want to live in

Scottish independence would open the way for constitutional reform

Scottish independence would spell the end of Great Britain. The UK would live on, but would need to be radically re-defined and re-designed. Constitutional reformers should grasp the opportunity presented by Scotland’s possible departure from the Union would open the doors to large-scale constitutional reform

We Lib Dems cannot return to 'business as usual'

Liberal Democrat life peer Trevor Smith sets out the implications of 5 May for his party. He argues that, while Nick Clegg will not resign as a result of crushing electoral results nationwide, they cannot return to 'business as usual'. The Lilb Dems must formulate a set of objectives, to restore public faith in the party

Lessons to be learned from the Yes to AV campaign failure

Why did the Yes to AV campaign fail, and what can we learn from its mistakes? Compass campaigns organiser Joe Cox and writer and researcher Ralph Scott set out four reasons why the campaign failed to convince the public to vote for reform on 5 May

AV is dead, where now for electoral reform?

Arguing for electoral reform in isolation from a full bloodied constitutional settlement that includes the UK's national question was far too limited and asked to fail.

After Britain’s shocking Thursday, is the earthquake still to come?

The contrast between the SNP's resounding victory in Scotland and Britain's decision to embrace our current FPTP voting system suggests that we have entered an explosive political decade. The 'Scottish Spring' signals an opportunity for a genuinely democratic party south of the border

What went wrong, and what now for reform in the UK

What a shocking day for progress in the UK outside Scotland. The minor improvement of AV spurned, hopes of PR dashed, and the Tories escaping not just unscathed, but positively emboldened. Today was not ‘a good day for the left’; it was a victory for tribalism and mendacity.

The Scottish Spring

Scotland emerged from its election completely and utterly changed. A huge historic Nationalist victory and the worst Labour result in seats since 1931. In its own way, the country has undergone its very own Scottish Spring
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