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New arrangements?

Alex Salmond will soon be pushing the line as to how Scottish independence will benefit the English when he delivers the Hugo Young lecture this week. 

His line will give many an English MP food for thought, ’˜cos he’ll sort out the West Lothian question for them straight away. Independence, so no more Scottish MPs, full stop.

It’s also this week that Mr Cameron’s commission on relations between between the English and MPs from the devolved countries gets underway. 

Coincidently, Cardiff University announce a comprehensive study of the English and their attitudes to devolution. 

Not suprising they don’t like it. Why? Because they feel they’re missing out, getting a raw deal.  

The facts don’t back up this up, by any objective measure England is still the most prosperous of the nations. But, and its a mighty big but, in politics perception is more important than objective reality. 

If they think they’re getting a raw deal, a raw deal they’re getting. It’s enough of a reality to get English politicians champing at the bit for the government to do something. 

Now a commission that reports sometime in the future ain’t going to satisfy back bench Tories.  No, they’ll want action this side of the next election.

What action? That’s the question. 

Ah, enter stage left Salmond. He offers the solution. No, not necessarily the independence that he and his party crave.  But that second question that Mr Cameron doesn’t want on the ballot paper, ‘devo max.’

The study by Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities show that eight out of ten of those English voters questioned, support full fiscal autonomy. In other words, ‘devo max.’  

At the same time those questioned say that MPs from these devolved countries should not by voting on English laws. So what’s the solution?

There are only two possibilities, either setting up an English Parliament, which Cameron has already ruled out or some other more sustainable arrangement. A Federal system.

Now Carwyn Jones flagged up that new arrangements would have to be made if Scotland left the UK. That may not happen, but the pressure from England may make ‘devo max’ the answer for all the devolved adminstrations. And yes, a new compact between the nations of these islands would then have to be negotiated. 

‘Devo max’ is the last thing that Labour would want for Wales. No longer would the English be bailing Wales out. The country would have to be self sufficient. 

Now there’s a challenge for Carwyn Jones, making Wales stand on its own two feet.

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16 Responses to “New arrangements?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Gareth,
    In your blood and deep inside you. Do you think you will ever see an independent Wales in your life time?

    Because it really feels like that’s the way it’s going. Simply because NONE of the unionists parties have outlined what they believe the constitutional status of Wales should be. They all want bits added here and there. It is time for each to say what they want. The LD’s should clearly say “they want a full federal state with x un devolved”. The Cons may well say “they want the status quo, with nothing added”. Whereas Labour, well I’ve no idea what Carwyn wants – he wants the odd tax here and there, but not some obvious ones.
    WHY AREN”T YOU JOUNRO’S QUESTIONING CARWYN ON THIS?

  2. kp says:

    So, the English don’t like devolution because they feel they are getting a raw deal. Quite so, I am sure they are.

    The fact they ‘remain the most prosperous of the nations’ is neither here nor there. If they continue to work harder than we do they will always be more prosperous. I think this is what most annoys indigenous Scots and Welsh, they haven’t quite got used to the c0ncept of earning a living.

    Too much state aid has bred two truly contemptuous nations. Times are set to change. We should embrace such!

  3. Britnot says:

    I have yet to see any vassal state that benefits from being part of a “Union” like the British empire. Lets not forget not all of England’s regions benefit to the same extent. Not surprisingly the parts that do best London and the South East of England just happen to contain or border the centre of power, Westminster.

    Take these regions out of the formula and the differences with the Celtic fringe are minimal. Therein lies the problem, an outdated, over centralised, post Imperial state stuck in the 19th Century. Like it or not it may well be “English Perception” rather than Welsh demands that propel us towards Independence. Sooner the better as far as I am concerned.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Labour are right to fear Devo Max because they wont be able to blame others anymore for their multiple failures as Carwyn Jones is doing at the moment, but best of all it will finally show Welsh voters their true colours and prove what their critics have known for a long time, Labour are bunch of self serving venal control freaks, full of contempt for anything Welsh.

    Voters will finally see what that attitude has done for Welsh communities over the last 30 years, the decimation of much of Wales wasn’t entirely Maggie’s fault.

  5. kp says:

    Britnot, how are we going to stop south Wales doing better than north Wales as and when we achieve independence? South Wales ‘just happens to contain or border the centre of power,’ Cardiff.

    • Britnot says:

      KP – Typical British approach. There is no need to stop South Wales doing better, you merely ensure that North,East,Mid and West Wales do as well. Strangely it was the British along with others that showed the way to go in Germany at the end of WW2.
      In order to limit the power of Prussia the post WW2 German Constitution was set up in such a way that no one part of the new state was to be allowed to develop vastly greater wealth or power than any other part. This meant that the German state does not have the “Boom and Bust” economic footprint so prevalent in the South East of England centric British state.
      They also don’t have the same extreme regional variations in property prices. In fact the only other country with a similar disproportionate regional inequality to Britain in the developed world, is Mexico. So an Independent Wales could make regional equality a central tenet of its new modern constitution!

  6. maen_tramgwydd says:

    I think that ‘devo max’ or ‘independence lite’ is a poison chalice for the unionists. For the Tories, more so than Labour, because it implies a federal solution.

    It can’t be achieved without fundamental constitutional reform, and would entail putting everything into writing. There is no half way house to that. Every aspect of the political, governmental and electoral system would have to be reviewed and codified. It would mark the end of centuries of Westminster style government which has evolved, or just ‘grown’ like Topsy. It would mean the death of FPTP and the two party system which has led to such incompetence, stagnation and corruption.

    It would be unacceptable to almost all Tories, and unpalatable to many in the Labour party.

    I suspect that Cameron would prefer the Scots opted out, rather than lose the Westminster gravy train, which would remain largely unaffected with Scottish independence. An added bonus would mean the Tories having a perpetual majority there, until the political system adjusted, which would take a decade at least.

    Labour would lose out either way. They might ostensibly gain the occasional majority in the federal parliament (deciding reserved matters, such as defence etc), but would be unlikely to form a government in the new English parliament – leading to a direct constitutional clash. They might possibly, depending on the fortunes of the SNP and Plaid, have control of the Scottish and Welsh parliaments.

    It’s likely that the SNP would insist on STV (or some such proportional system) for elections, making it difficult for FPTP to be retained in Wales and Scotland, or in the federal parliament. The outcome could be coalitions all round, except perhaps in England.

    One no longer hears the LibDems trumpeting federalism, because they too are beginning to realise the problems it would cause.

    Worse still for the unionists, all of them, is that a federation is virtually bound to break apart given the asymmetric imbalance between England and the other nations of the UK – I can’t see Scotland and Wales agreeing to renewing Trident, or a war against Iran or some such, to which pro-American imperialists in London are partial. Then there’s the deep euroscepticism prevalent in England.

    In a way I have sympathy for the unionists – they’re between a rock and a hard place – having to resort to petty legalism instead of sound argument in the face of the growing tensions which are going to pull the UK apart within the next decade or two.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Excellent piece again Gareth.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Gareth – since when did federalism = end of fiscal transfers from rich to poorer parts??

  9. kp says:

    Federalism is a non-starter, unless it is just federalism with the Scots. The English derive no benefit so would not want to be a part of it.

    No, we are looking to be very much on our own these days. We’ve either got to put up or shut up. I wonder how much money has poured out of the Principality over recent weeks, this tells us what people really think of Wales’ future prospects.

  10. Anonymous says:

    the english benefit from federalism through retaining the physical intergrity of the UK- and then there’s the oil!

    Federalism is the answer

  11. kp says:

    Anon, 01:39

    Why is the physical integrity of the UK of any relevance? A more prosperous English nation is unlikely to want to stick with wet seaside holidays in a grey and overcast Wales, no matter how cheap.

    As for the oil, its best to remember that is is a fast declining asset and future revenues won’t cover the debt mountain that is RBS.

    Just imagine how rich England will be if it doesn’t have to bail out RBS and HBOS, the people living in Scotland and Wales and all the rest of the nonsense that is the present UK.

    If I were English I’d vote to leave the Union tomorrow.

  12. There is a third option Gareth. England could declare independence.

  13. Britnot says:

    As I mentioned earlier we may well have Independence imposed on us rather than by choice. Personally I think the UK is an example of where the whole is much less than the sum of the parts. British politicians seem to be motivated by outdated visions of former imperialism and thus all of the constituent parts are disadvantaged.

    One thing is for sure and even Carwyn Jones has recognised this truism, whether Scotland becomes Independent or attains Devo-Max the relationships between the Countries of these Islands changes forever! The changes brought in by the recent referendum in Wales will be minuscule by comparison.

  14. cornubian says:

    If a federal system is on the cards then I know Cornwall would like to be one of the units and not stuck within a centralised England.

  15. kp says:

    cornubian, same with Anglesey. We have no desire to be stuck within a centralized Wales.

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