Friday, 13 January 2012

Our disunited kingdom.

There is an insurance company which advertises that it won't make a drama out of a crisis (or maybe the other way round - I'm not sure which they regards as the more traumatic.) Unfortunately our politicians seem adept at doing exactly that. The constitutional future of Scotland could easily be settled by "quiet calm deliberation" but instead the various options bombard each other with half-truths and predictions of disaster.

Alex Salmond wants to delay the referendum because he observes that support for independence, at present well below 50%, increases with time, so pretends that it will take a long time to make the preparations. David Cameron wants the referendum sooner for the same reason, so pretends that any delay will be bad for business confidence and growth. Others chip in with varied legal obfuscations as to who has a constitutional right to call a referendum.

To me the obvious and best solution is that Scotland should have "home rule": authority over all domestic matters and sharing defence, foreign policy and odd bits and pieces such as the meteorological office and parts of the BBC with the United Kingdom. Liberals have campaigned for something on these lines ever since I've been a member of the party, and, indeed had a similar devolution of power been granted to Ireland, as proposed in Gladstone's First Home Rule Bill in 1886, over a century of strife and bloodshed could have been avoided.

The sensible thing to do is to have the referendum, let Salmond have his two questions (more if he likes) and I'm fairly certain the Scots will vote for home rule, which is now called "Devolution Max", and we can then move on to make similar arrangement for the Regions of England.

Instead our politicians shriek "crisis," their bandy half-truths, deny their real motives and bring the democratic process into disrepute.

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