When the polls suddenly showed the Scottish YES campaign was in the lead, the leaders of the UK’s three biggest parties raced to offer vast amounts of greater devolution to Scotland so long as they stayed in the Union.
Today, having secured the vote they wanted, they’ve promised to keep their word and bring forward new powers to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and answer, finally, the absence of devolution in England.
The first change that needs to happen is ending the ability of Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs to vote at Westminster on issues which are devolved within their home nation and where the laws being passed don’t impact on their constituents.
London, even in our wildest fantasies, is unlikely to get a law-making body of its own but if we did gain complete control over a policy area such as the NHS, the same restriction should apply to London MPs.
Laws should only ever be passed by MPs who represent those affected by them.
That has to be at the core of any new devolution settlement.
On Wednesday Boris Johnson told Assembly Members there’d been less ministerial interest in the London Finance Commission’s proposals to allow London and other major cities to keep more of the taxes collected within them and be free to invest them to secure local growth than he’d have liked.
That has to change.
MPs and councillors from all parties have endorsed the Commission’s proposals and it’s time their national leaderships did the same and ensure their rapid implementation.
And we need Westminster government and its layers of select committees to leave it to voters to hold local politicians to account for the money they spend and the decisions they make.
The practice of MPs hauling the Mayor of London or other local leaders before them to be questioned about local decision making has to end.
Most importantly of all, whatever devolution settlement emerges from the discussions ahead has to be recognised and enshrined as the permanent baseline.
Further devolution will always be welcome, but grabbing powers back at a future date must be impossible.
Here in London we know how damaging it is when ministers rip devolved government away from voters when it becomes a hinderance or nuisance to them.
The longterm impact of abolishing the GLC is still being felt – it’s one of the causes behind London’s homes shortage and one reason why schemes such as Crossrail have taken so long to get off the drawing board.
Strong local democracy must never again be seen as a gift to be bestowed or revoked by central government.
Over the years Westminster has centralised too much, disempowering communities and driving down voter engagement.
As painful as it’ll be for the MPs whose status and sense of self-importance will be inevitably diminished, it’s time for the distribution of power to be rebalanced in favour of local structures which are closer to voters and more easily held to account.