Brown bangs the drum once again

Gordon Brown renewed his call for a strengthened British identity with his speech to the Fabian society on Saturday.

As always when Brown is banging the drum for Britishness, there is a subtext, a fact which seems to be widely appreciated now.

Gordon Brown’s suggestion that a Britain day is established to celebrate Britishness has had what might politely be called a mixed reception.

Whatever the merits of the argument, it looks once again like a Scot trying to downplay his roots and re-assure middle England that he would, post-devolution, be an acceptable prime minister of the UK. (BBC News)

As Gareth at the CEP notes, it looks as if there is now a head of steam building up over the West Lothian question.

THE power wielded at Westminster by Scottish MPs has come under unprecedented attack in a deepening English rebellion over devolution.

Stoking the disquiet, some English MPs are openly questioning whether a Scot should be prime minister.

The practice of Scottish MPs voting on English matters is the focus of dissent, with senior Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative figures all calling for a new constitutional deal giving more power to England. (Scotsman)

Apparently, John Major is now calling for a federal system. Given that a decade ago, Major was leading the opposition to devolution, his stance now underlines the centrifugal forces at work in the UK (and of course, the shifting interests of the Tories.)

Any fundamental change to the union is bound to have an impact on Northern Ireland, as Eric Waugh pointed out last week.

The English note that every Scot is subsidised by the Treasury to the extent of £30 a week, enabling the Scottish Parliament to maintain public spending 20% higher per head than that in England. Sound familiar? Of course it does!

It is the working out of the celebrated Barnett formula which governs how the national cake is apportioned. It is what gives us our high level of public spending which, grumbles or not, is even higher than that of the Scots.

But there are growing demands in England for the formula, worked out by Lord Barnett when he was chairman of the public expenditure committee in the 1970s, to be revised, the grounds being that the regions are now much better off than they were 30 years ago, which undoubtedly they are.

So if you are still wondering whether all the tetchiness between the English and the Scots matters to us, you should know the answer now. (Belfast Telegraph)

A key issue to watch out for will be the role of Scottish votes on the forthcoming Education Bill. It’s going to be an interesting couple of months.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *