Tuesday 17 November 2020

Devolution is a disaster


The main differences between Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross is that Johnson can think clearly and tell the truth as he sees it, while Ross lacks the intellect to get to the essence of a problem and therefore says what he thinks he ought to say.

It may or may not be damaging to the Scottish Conservatives that Johnson has described devolution as a disaster. Ross thinks it is for which reason he immediately contradicted his party leader. No doubt Johnson will say he did not really mean it, but of course that would be a lie. He meant it and he was right.

Ross wants to increase Scottish Conservative seats in the Scottish Parliament and thinks that being against the Scottish Parliament is not the way to do it. Perhaps he is right, but I doubt it.

How many people in Scotland genuinely like devolution? The SNP don’t. Independence supporters don’t. They want to abolish devolution. Those of us who support the continuing existence of the UK are sometimes Left Right and Centre, but few of us are exactly enthusiastic about devolution. It has destroyed Labour in Scotland. It hasn’t done much for the Liberal Democrats. The average Conservative opposed the Scottish Parliament when there was a vote on it and I’ve yet to come across any Pro UK Scot who thinks with hindsight devolution was a good idea. The idea that Scottish Conservatives will lose votes by being sceptical about devolution is false. Mr Ross May once more is trying to appeal to people who won’t vote Conservative anyway.

Let’s get into a Time Machine with the knowledge that we have now. Let’s go back to the Scottish Constitutional Convention, where the Scottish Establishment came up with their cunning plan to destroy Scottish nationalism and the SNP. They called it devolution. Well let’s show Donald Dewar, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and others the Ghost of Christmas yet to come.

In 2007 the SNP were able to form a minority Government. It took a mere 8 years for the supposedly permanent Labour Lib Dem coalition to fall apart.

In 2011 the SNP formed its first majority Government which Dewar and Co. intended to be impossible by rigging the electoral system against it.

In 2014 because of this SNP majority we had a referendum on independence. Support for independence went from around 25% to 44%,

In 2015 Scottish Labour the Lib Dems and the Conservatives were reduced to one seat each at a General Election.

When Donald Dewar and friends met up to establish permanent Labour Lib Dem rule in Scotland so that when England voted Tory, they would at least be able to rule Scotland, would they have done it knowing what would happen later?

In the years before 1999 Scottish independence was not even a serious political issue. The SNP got a handful of seats at Westminster, but literally no one thought they had a chance of achieving their dream. It was as likely as Plaid Cymru getting independence for Wales. But now even the idea of Welsh independence, which previously was the obsession of Druids is on 25% and the Welsh First Minster has wet dreams about closing the border.

If you look at what has happened since 1999, then it becomes obvious that devolution is more of a threat to the UK than the First World War, Second World War and Cold War combined. The UK’s existence is far more threatened in 2020 than it was in 1940. If that does make devolution a disastrous policy, what does?

If Donald Dewar and Co upon being visited by the Ghost of Christmas yet to come did not mend their ways, they would unlike Scrooge show no sense of self preservation and even less insight. But poor Douglas Ross doesn’t need the Ghost to show him the future. He lives in the future and yet still cannot see the reality of devolution doesn’t understand the truth and dare not speak it.

We lack a time machine. We cannot go back and beg Donald Dewar not to do it. We probably cannot abolish the devolved Parliaments, though in theory a few afternoons at Westminster would do the trick. What we can do is make devolution work for Britain rather than the separatists.

The United States, though it might not seem so, has a very robust and fair political system. I would be happy to replicate it here, but only on condition that each “state” accepted that it was subordinate, and that secession wasn’t an option. It is the fact that Texas may not secede that holds the United States together rather than that the United States is federal. It is therefore not federalism that we can learn from the United States, but rather local power.

If you continually give more power to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland you will merely increase nationalism. It is devolution that is making Mr Drakeford behave like a Welsh nationalist. Increase it still more and he will ban people from speaking English in Wales and apply for a grant to rebuilt Offa’s Dyke not merely as a barrier to the English but also as an early celebration of Saphism in Wales.

If you turn Westminster into an English Parliament with some sort of senate where each of the parts of the UK meet you will simply put another nail in the British coffin. If each bit of Federal Britain runs its own affairs and largely raises and spends its own money, then what would hold it together. No this is no solution. It is merely gradual defeat. But there is a solution.

What we need in Britain is equal devolution. We need Westminster to assert by Act of Parliament that Britain is a unitary state that does not allow secession, but that we will devolve real power to the level of approximately the county. For instance, we could decide that each group of one million people in the UK would have its own local authority with genuine power over law and order, health and education.

The result would be not so much to abolish the devolved parliaments but to bypass them. Give power to local people in Aberdeenshire and the other parts of Scotland. The result would be that the Scottish Parliament would rapidly become an irrelevance. Scotland would have more devolution rather than less, but it would not be a devolution that could fuel secession. Devolutionists would get more of what they want, so they ought to be happy. Secessionists would get nothing.

It’s no use recognising that devolution has become a disaster if we are not willing to do anything about it. People like me voted to Leave the EU because we could see what the EU was becoming and didn’t want Britain to be a region in a United States of Europe. The task is to recognise that if we continue with the present devolution arrangement there won’t be a United Kingdom long term. If that isn’t disaster enough for Mr Ross, he would be better joining the SNP and be done with it.

It would be better by far if we could abolish devolution and start again. But the next best thing is to make the devolved parliaments irrelevant.