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The Mess Of Devolution 19 June 2006

Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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The English people never sought to break the Union between England, Wales and Scotland in the centuries of its history. Next year will be the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union that created Great Britain, a nation which went on to make numerous and noted achievements – yet it has never looked so much in danger, and now it is from itself.

The foolish and muddled devolution pushed through by the New Labour government in its early days has created a confusion. By refusing the settle the West Lothian Question, Scottish MPs vote on English matters and may take English only cabinet jobs. The Scottish Parliament continues spending at a rate higher than some socialist countries due to the Barnett Formula at England's cost – despite it achieving nothing. The unpopular Labour government often uses Scottish votes to pass controversial legislation only covering England. At the next general election Scottish Labour MPs may lead to a Labour government despite a Conservative majority in England.

Now 52% of English people are unhappy with devolution. So far there are four proposals; the dissolution of the United Kingdom; English devolution; fewer Scottish MPs; or English votes on English laws – favoured by the Conservatives. To dissolve the Union would be a tragedy, we as a whole would be far weaker – it's no wonder the EU favours a "Europe of Regions". Sadly the SNP has fallen for this, but Scotland would be lost in a European Union as are Latvia and other small nations. I see no benefit in fewer Scottish MPs – this simply reduces the extent of the problem without solving it. I would not like to see English devolution – if more politicians are the answer, it must be a stupid question. The only option, if devolution is to be kept, is English votes on English issues. The same should be offered by a referendum to Scotland and Wales – giving the chance of symmetrical devolution and lower costs. Another option – abolishing devolution – should also at least be offered.

Yet I understand why so many Scots and Welsh people support devolution or independence, as their cultures have been and are under threat. I feel more legal protection, flexibility in teaching, and greater localism, are the ways forward however.

The government must act before it is too late. The "Britishness" cynically championed by Gordon Brown is fast disappearing.

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