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Frank Field Vs The Bicycling Chameleon 7 January 2007

Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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GMTV’s Sunday programme had a fascinating interview with Labour MP Frank Field this morning. I didn’t see it, but poached this from Iain Dale, then added my nice blue comments. 

FRANK FIELD
Well the problem really is twofold. Firstly, English opinion has changed, and if you look at the polls now it’s not people in Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland saying they’re wanting independence. The strongest independence comes from people in England, and at some stage that wish will be granted. And for totally grubby reasons.
Yes, Labour screwing up devolution, fairly grubby.
I think the government should leave that debate rather than be frightened of it. The position the government now holds is no change on anything, and that clearly is not acceptable.
No, quite.
The second thing is that we live in a world now whereas in the last century capital moved about and became mobile, now people are.
Perhaps we should limit this?
And therefore people’s senses of identity becomes more, not less, important.
Very true
And I don’t think you can have an identity around Great Britain because it’s a bogus concept which has served us quite well of wrapping round the various countries, like a warm overcoat, making the countries feel secure. That is very untrue. Great Britain is not a bogus concept, it came about over many centuries, you could even include the Roman concept of Britannica. But certainly you can include the Union of the Crowns (James VI of Scotland became James I of England after the death of Elizabeth I) and then the Union of the Parliaments (Act of Union 1707). All nations are fairly new concepts, and GB is old by comparison.
The real identities are about England, about Wales, about Scotland and Ireland, and I think those identities need to be asserted if we’re going to successfully make this huge transition from a world where people didn’t move around to one where people move around in huge quantities, and make some people feel very insecure as a result of those changes.
These identies exist as well, and are part of being British.

STEVE RICHARDS
Although some argue that’s precisely why the Union should be retained, that the world is becoming a bigger place, you’re dealing with China, India, the United States, why suddenly separate into much smaller units?
FRANK FIELD
What’s so interesting, in where you’re chairing this Steve, is you’re the first person that I’ve heard for months put forward a positive reason for the Union being maintained.
Quite true, we need a campaign for unionism.
I always thought the reason why we were in Europe was that the voices of independent nations can be made effective on the national stage.
We do not need ‘Europe’.
STEVE RICHARDS
So you’d be happy, actually, for Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England to be four separate entities?
FRANK FIELD
I think there are two things.
Dodging the question? 
We’ve got to settle the English Question as far as legislation goes, and I think we should have an imaginative debate rather than the plonking debate we get at the moment over House of Lords reform, which has not changed for a hundred years. I would see the federal status of the old United Kingdom being trailed through a second chamber, whereas at the first tier level there would be individual parliaments in the interests of the constituent countries.
It’s a thought, but involves more politicians! Why not one UK House of Commons, with sepparate Scottish, English and Welsh votes for the devolved legislation?
 

Over the last 300 years, Great Britain has been a huge success. We should not turn our back on this just because Labour has made a mess of devolution.

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