Wednesday, 9 November 2011


I rotate my newspaper reading where I can, and I was surprised to see that the Telegraph has one of the most inciteful explanations of how we have got to where we are on devolution.

I have long thought that Scottish Labour is largely responsible for our current mess, with their facile alignment of any difficulties in Scotland with the Tories and implicitly the English. Unable to get off this track, their disastrous campaign this summer in the elections for the Scottish Parliament was largely based around how only Labour and not the SNP could properly protect Scotland against "London". This was particularly ludicrous, as well as being implicitly anti-English, because the Scottish Parliament is responsible for devolved matters and not for the reserved matters for which the UK government (and so, using Scottish Labour's and the SNP's lexicon, "London") is responsible. Scottish Labour have been trying to out-nationalist the nationalists, which is bound to fail.

The headline to the Telegraph article somewhat misrepresents the article itself. The article suggests that Scotland having a semi-detached relationship with the UK under "devolution max" may be the end point - although perhaps Mr Brogan thinks that that cannot reasonably be described as a union. For my own part, as explained in this article, I cannot see how devo max would work without a complete rewriting of the UK constitution. It would make Nick Clegg's current playground hobby of rejigging the House of Lords largely redundant, since presumably the House of Lords would become some kind of federal or confederal chamber.

I doubt the resolve of both the Labour and Conservative parties to see such an arrangement through, and indeed both parties seem incapable of even talking about it. We are likely instead to end up with some half-baked arrangement leading to independence in a generation. So the headline may end up being right.

Which raises the question: When is the Labour party's navel gazing on this going to end, and they start saying something useful? At the end of the day, the future of the union (or otherwise) is in their hands.