Monday, 15 September 2014

Shuffling towards a federal UK

In response to Gordon Brown's proposals for "home rule" for Scotland in the event of a No vote, there have been many murmurings about what is to be done about England and the West Lothian Question. In line with the current government fashion, the most popular change suggested is to resurrect regional devolution, only this time to city regions in the form of combined authorities.

Although giving more powers to cities would be welcome, it is not clear what this has to do with the matter at hand, namely who gets to write legislation for England. More importantly right now, it is a gross insult to Scotland to assert that English regions are constitutionally equivalent to the whole of their country. If the union is to mean anything, it should mean equal treatment for the constituent countries, and the only logical conclusion is an English parliament.

As I've argued before, if such a parliament was designed correctly it would have the added benefit of reducing the unhealthy dominance of London over the rest of the UK. It would moreover concentrate minds in Westminster wonderfully in a future referendum if Scotland were entitled to take 8% of London with it if it separated.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Independence means independence

At one point during the seemingly endless interrupting competition between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond I took a look at what I had written previously on the subject of Scottish independence. What I recalled as fairly recent posts turned out to be two and a half years old. I can only imagine how interminable the independence debate has been for the poor residents of Scotland.

Nevertheless I was surprised how relevant the point about currency options for the discarded "devo max" option remains today. In essence, what the SNP are trying to propose as independence is devo max: they want to keep the Pound, the Queen, the BBC, and other trappings of the UK while having maximum powers in every other respect.

If anything the idea of a Poundzone is even more stupid for an independent Scottish state, as it would require a political union of a kind which negates its own independence. Salmond must know this and therefore I suspect he would want negotiations for such a union to fail in the end if he truly believes in Scotland running its own affairs. His strategy may be to sell independence as devo max, but that's just a means to an end. That's why after two and a half years he has no good answer to the currency question, and why Better Together are absolutely right to bang on about it as much as they can.