"Given how close we came to losing the Union, we ought to have the courage to choose the more radical option"by John Law / November 7, 2014 / Leave a comment
Since September’s independence referendum in Scotland, the Labour and Conservative parties have descended into an unseemly spat, each appearing to prioritise its own narrow interest above the national interest. This is, in part, understandable: for what is at stake is nothing less than their ability to control the principal legislature of the country—the raw stuff of political power. While the Conservatives saw a tactical opportunity to gain a near-permanent majority on English issues and paint the opposition into a corner by proposing “English votes for English laws,” Labour, alarmed at the prospect of losing their valuable block of Scottish votes, resorted to scaremongering, arguing that the measure would lead to the “break-up” of the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, compelling responses to the “West Lothian question” are hard to find. Devolving power to cities or regions, a much-touted solution, won’t deal with the growing sense of unfairness felt in England, since many of those regions are not built on pre-existing cultural communities or historic popular allegiances. However, there is another option—the idea of a four-nation UK federation—though it has been given short shrift by a number of leading commentators, including Jim Gallagher (in the November issue of Prospect), Vernon Bogdanor, Quentin Peel and Anthony Seldon.