Monday, 15 September 2014

A dream of common cause, common weal, common wealth

As the somewhat dismal forces of nationalism, Utopian pipe dreamers and neo-con capitalism collide in Thursday's Scottish Referendum I may not have a vote, but I can daydream about a more rational world in which ...

The Scottish National Party push for a referendum on Scottish independence. The response from the rest of civic and political society across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is OK, but thats a pretty narrow question on which to frame such an important process as a referendum. Anger, disenchantment and apathy towards our current political system seem to run deep across all sections of society and territory across these islands. There are also many Scots in England, English in Scotland, Welsh in England, those of Scottish decent across the other parts of the country etc etc; how would you decide who has a say in this matter?

Debate and discussion takes place. The consensus view is that, yes there is a need for a referendum but it needs to be inclusive and give all the people real options to choose from, not just a false binary choice for 10% of the population. This means that the referendum will give a voice to all registered voters across the whole United Kingdom. So the question is framed, and here it is:

Which of the following most closely matches your preference and aspiration for the future political structure of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales)?

1. I am content with the current political structure.

2. I would like to see a federal system with meaningful and increased devolved government in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the regions and cities of England, within a unified United Kingdom.

3. I would like to see England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales become separate independent states. 

To ensure that there is no democratic deficit and enable self-determination, if a majority in any of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom vote for option 3, separation, then that country would have the right to secede from the UK and become independent.

Am I naive in thinking that a majority vote for option 2, a federal Britain, would kick-start the urgently needed progressive reform of our democratic structures? 

Well I can dream. Although, maybe the seismic shift towards political engagement in Scotland may just tip us into believing that change can come for everyone. What a shame it would be if we are diverted from such an opportunity by a messy, prolonged, costly and divisive decoupling of Scotland from the rest of us?

 Anyone for common cause, common weal, common wealth?


  1. Guardian today - 16th September - has two relevant articles.
    1. Danny Dorling charts the growing geographical inequality across Britain -

    2. Polly Toynbee calls for a "no" vote in the Scottich referendum and argues aganst localism by referencing the same differences -

    Very compelling and a warning that " meaningful ..devolved government" may well be a poisoned chalice if taken to a small scale where nimbys and little englanders get to rule.

  2. Thnaks for the links Rob. I'm not sure that Polly Toynbee provides a compelling case against a move to a Federal Britain (based on equal 'regions'), in fact I'm not sure what logic she is basing her 'vote no' case on. Obviously some regions may diverge quite sharply on how they manage their devolved affairs, but that's democracy. They would still remain part of a wider unified cultural entity, I'm thinking the USA, Germany and Australia. Not perfect but better than we have now and better than damaging separation/ Balkanisation.



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