A better United Kingdom?

Lord Tyler

Yesterday’s debate on the constitutional implications of the Scottish independence referendum naturally highlighted the profound and shocking potential impacts of a ‘Yes’ vote on 18 September.  However, there was a consistent theme – growing in intensity as the evening wore on – that there were important implications for the whole of the UK, whatever the outcome of the Scottish vote.

I had (with unusual modesty) asked to be left to a very late stage in the discussion, and I was scheduled to be the 35th speaker.   I planned to discuss the impact on England and Cornwall in the light of the ‘No’ result for which I am hoping.  If the outcome is ‘no’, the UK can stay together but more devolution is then very likely both to Scotland and Wales. This means we have to give attention now to the consequences for England.  But I calculated I would be in a minority of one, and that I should keep my rather peripheral contribution to late on in the evening, once the main Scottish experts and their core issues were out of the way.

This was a miscalculation.   I was surprised and delighted by the chorus of speakers who underlined the significance of the devolution process, with its uneven progress in the different parts of the UK, and the urgent need to re-examine the implications for the whole of the country, whatever the referendum outcome.  In a variety of ways Lords Lang (Con), McConnell (Lab), Strathclyde (Con), Richard (Lab), Steel (Lib Dem), Morris (Lab), Forsyth (Con), McFall (Lab), Crickhowell (Con), Purvis (Lib Dem), Haskins (Cross Bench), Soley (Lab), Caithness (Con) and Judd (Lab) all referred to the need to approach this issue on a holistic basis – including England – before I got to speak.

Unexpectedly, therefore, my contribution picked up an established theme, rather than breaking away from it.  As a result the Minister responding, my Lib Dem colleague Lord (Jim) Wallace, acknowledged the significance of our combined urging in his peroration.

One of the best contributions I have seen about how to resolve the position of England in a devolved UK was recently published by Dr Andrew Blick, with the Federal Trust and Unlock Democracy.  Their proposal for “devolution on demand” was also endorsed by Liberal Democrats at their conference earlier this year.  For my part, I think it the best basis to deal with an issue which is becoming increasingly crucial to the quality of our democracy.  What do you think?

4 comments for “A better United Kingdom?

  1. Anne
    26/06/2014 at 6:52 pm

    What do I think? I think that between you all, you are doing exactly what Hitler wanted to do, destroy the whole of the United Kingdom of GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland, to tear it completely apart, to destroy it completely. He tried through the Bombing of this country, and Scotland especially went through a terrible, terrible time in that war, and without their grit and courage to continue, goodness only knows what may have happened in those days.
    As far as the EU is concerned, Scotland is already classed as a REGION of the EU. See the records of the meeting that took place in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd May 2001, when members from the European Union’s Committee of the Regions attended, and in the report of that debate Mr Dammeyer when he had been speaking to the Scottish Parliament about devolution, that as far as the Scottish people are concerned, Scotland is a “Country”, the Scottish people are “nation”, but Mr Dammeyer explained that from the European point of view Scotland is like a Region of the European Union.

    Between you all sadly, this once great United Kingdom of Great Britain may end up as just REGIONS of the EU, yet so many, many people died trying in two World Wars to save their (and YOUR) Country for you.

  2. MilesJSD
    28/06/2014 at 11:19 pm

    It all depends upon what is meant by “a better UK”.

    For me it should mean equally
    1. becoming a naturally-&-civilisationally advancing People;
    2. becoming a self-sufficient State;

    both needing to be upon new sustain-worthy as well as sustain-able bases.

    Among the the Big Saboteurs preventing this advance into self-sufficiency are
    (1) Abrogation:
    of both our individual-development
    and our collective participatory-democratisation.
    (2) Anamolous Historical Traditions: not least we are still ‘deluded’ into white-English and ‘world-leading-democraticly-colonial commonwealth’ superiorities and privilogocratic Houses.
    (3) Our ‘historicly-triumphant’ civilisation-pyramid must be kept in the manner to which it is accustomed – namely the more ‘efficient’ the individual the more lifesupportiveness s/he must be given and paid.

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