Brown on Britishness, again

In today’s Telegraph, Gordon Brown returns yet again to the subject of Britishness:

In contrast to Lady Thatcher, who rightly defended
the Union and did so even when not expedient to do so, some
Conservative writers now embrace anti-Unionist positions, from
independence to "English votes for English laws" – a Trojan horse for

Regrettably, an opportunist coalition
of minority Nationalists and from what used to be the Conservative and
Unionist Party is forming around a newly fashionable but perilous
orthodoxy emphasising what divides us rather than what unites. (Telegraph)

What Brown refuses to acknowledge is Labour’s role in
promoting this coalition, by failing to address the democratic deficit
that allows Scottish MPs to impose policies like tuition fees and
foundation hospitals on England.

He cannot acknowledge this problem because addressing it would mean circumscribing his own power as Prime Minister. This basic dilemma has been apparent for several years, but between the Scottish elections and Brown’s all-but-inevitable appointment as Prime Minister, 2007 looks like being the year when the issue comes to a head.

(Mrs Thatcher is an apt reference, given the right-wing policies that Scottish Labour votes have imposed on England. Thatcher, of course, would have seen Scottish devolution as a
‘Trojan horse for separation.’)



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2 responses to “Brown on Britishness, again”

  1. DougtheDug avatar

    It all stems from the asymmetric way that devolution was imposed on the UK on the basis of nationalist threat.
    Powers were not devolved from the UK parliament to all of the national partners in the Union, which would be symmetrical devolution, but were devolved to outlying “secessionist” regions of the UK. In simple terms the UK and England were not seen as different entities so the idea of devolution for England was unthinkable and therefore the UK parliament remained the English parliament. How can you devolve power to yourself?
    The new Scottish parliament was viewed correctly as another layer of local government but the architects of devolution failed to see that the collapse of the tory party in Scotland left Scotland a labour fiefdom whose MP’s could be used to push through English Legislation in the UK parliament.
    If the tory vote had held up in Scotland there would be a Tory/Labour split in MP’s who would cancel each other out in votes, at least to some extent. The West Lothian Question would therefore not now be such a hot potato.
    Brown’s problem is twofold, he can’t give England a parliament like Scotland because England is too big. The “First Minister” of England would effectively be more powerful than the Prime Minister and probably Tory. It would also de-emphasise Britishness.
    He can’t do “English MP’s only” bills and votes in the current UK parliament because it would be too complex and if the Tories regain seats at the next election he could lose control of England. In effect the UK.
    I love it. I hope it continues to split the Union. Broon can get his English passport, a video of his favourite goal, (Paul Gascoigne scoring for England against Scotland), a copy of the eternally referred to Magna Carta can guess the rest.

  2. Hereward the wake avatar
    Hereward the wake

    Brown spouted:
    “…some Conservative writers now embrace anti-Unionist positions…”
    Devolution is anti unionist Gordon, you fackin’ moron!

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