Devolution tensions

When I started the Green Ribbon a couple of months ago, one of the things I wanted to explore was the rise of a popular English identity, and the way it might undermine the UK state’s promotion of Britishness.

I had expected material to be thin on the ground because of the unionist instincts of the establishment, well illustrated by the Scottish Six affair and the Jonathan Powell incident. I was wrong.

In just the last couple of weeks, we’ve had the following:

Gordon Brown defending British identity, and by extension, his right to be Prime Minister, whilst implicitly attacking Tony Blair’s vision of Cool Britannia.

Jeremy Paxman claiming England is run by a ‘Scottish Raj’, in a spat with John Reid, another Scottish contender to succeed Tony Blair.

Tony Blair admitting that people in England aren’t interested in the phoney solution of regional devolution.

Rumours that Charles Clarke is opposed to a Scottish Prime Minister.

Alistair Darling warning that a Tory victory would damage the Scottish Executive’s ability to carry out its policies.

Michael Howard renewing the Tories call for English votes for English laws, another untenable solution to the devolution dilemma.

Blair loyalist David Blunkett embracing English identity.

There was always a strong likelihood that the impending general election would raise these issues because of the possibility of a British Government without an English majority.

The possibility of a Brown succession to Blair has long been recognised as another potentially destabilising development and it looks as if English-Scottish tensions are emerging at the top of the Labour Party.

20 Scottish Labour MPs have signed a motion condemning Paxman’s Scottish Raj remarks.

To quote Gareth at the Campaign for an English Parliament: "What a fascinating few days it’s been."






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