There has been so much comment and debate about the Credit Crunch, bank collapse, large recession and inflation which happened in recent years, that attention has been diverted from the constitutional vandalism carried out by the EU and its collaborators in the last government.
In 1999 I wrote a book entitled “The death of Britain”. It is time to revisit its predictions, bring the analysis up to date, and to go to ask how can UK democracy be restored to a country with a mangled constitution.
I argued that devolution would “fuel nationalist movements in Scotland and Wales”. “It is helping create a Europe of the regions in the way the Commission wants”. “The end result will be a more factious, more overgoverned, more overregulated United Kingdom… It will not reconnect the public with the politicians. It will confirm the public in their view that politicians by and large do not solve problems, do cost too much, and are good at misleading the public in their own interests”. Devolution is usually a stepping stone on the way to a break up of a union.
The book concluded:
“It is a crowning irony that, that following decades or centuries of success with the Westminster model and our belief in freedom, this government and this European Union should now be uniting to destroy much of what is best in the Mother of Parliaments.”
“What is the point of Parliament if a common foreign policy for Britain is hammered out by our partners on the continent? What is the point of Parliament if the most important decisions about economic policy are taken by an independent central bank in Frankfurt? What is the point of Parliament if many of the important issues of health and education and local government are determined by regional assemblies and not at Westminster? How much democracy will there be if crucial decisions are taken behind closed doors at Brussels meetings?…”
“One day, however, the British people will collectively wake up to realise that Parliament, the fountain of so many of their liberties, no longer has much water in it….They will discover there are so many layers of politicians and bureaucrats from town hall through district council through county council through regional assembly through Westminster to Brussels, that they very rarely get a straight answer to anything and find it extremely difficult to work out who , if anyone, is to blame….The Scots will get restless for more independence…”
“Labour’s constitutional blueprint is nothing more than a plan for the destruction of United Kingdom democracy. It threatens splits within the kingdom. It threatens transferring too much out of democratic control. It gives far too much ground to the federal plan on the continent. ”
13 years on much of what I feared has come true. Devolution has unleashed nationalist movements.Devolution is not a stable settlement, but a constant series of demands for more. The Treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon have transferred far too many powers to the EU, making the UK powerless in many more areas and adding to scepticism and hostility toward politics as a result. The advent of more decision making in quangos, Brussels and further layers of government has added to cost, complexity. It lacks clarity and is increasingly unacceptable to electors. A so called independent Bank of England presided over our worst economic and banking crisis since the 1930s, making many policy mistakes. As I feared Labour got rid of the people it did not like in the Lords, but did not know how to reform it positively.
Some things I feared we prevented. We stopped the UK joining the single currency, despite Mr Blair’s enthusiasm. We stopped changes to the voting system for Westminster, though we have them for other layers of government. We have checked regional government in England, defeating elected regional government and now starting to cut back the unelected because it is a needless and unaccountable layer.
In future pieces I will examine what more we need to do to rebuild a proper Parliamentary democracy in the UK.
The BBC today reported 79% now support English votes for English issues – that’s a start. Then the BBC ruined it, by saying the answer to the sense of English injustice with the union was a bit more devolution to the northern cities! No, BBC, the answer is to let us English speak for England, and for England to be able to take its own decisions where such decisions are devolved in Scotland. If Scotland is united in its devolved kingdom, so must England be.