Countless rounds of constitutional tinkering by the British establishment have failed. The products of innumerable commissions have been unceremoniously binned. Various arrangements have been pronounced a failure by the very ones who had previously proclaimed them an “enduring solution”. They often failed before they were even implemented. They failed for reasons lying somewhere on a spectrum between gross ineptitude and unbridled malice.
These flailing stabs at a constitutional settlement failed primarily because they were informed, not by an ambition to formulate a solution which provided for the good governance of Scotland while addressing the needs, aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people, but by the imperative to preserve the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state and serve its elites.
Federalism is not an answer to the constitutional question. It is a desperate, last-ditch defence of the old order and the old ways. An attempt to preserve as much as possible of the British state that is familiar to and revered by people like Murdo Fraser.
The signs of desperation are clear. What possible authority can Fraser and his chums in Reform Scotland have for claiming the election of 56 SNP MPs as a vote for federalism?
In what obliquely adjacent universe might support from Boris Johnson be considered a positive testimonial?
The closest Murdo Fraser gets to offering a positive case for a federalised UK is his argument that it would address two “constitutional problems” – the so-called West Lothian Question and reform of the House of Lords. Both of which would be far more effectively dealt with by bringing Scotland’s government home. The West Lothian Question is entirely a function of the very devolution that Fraser is wanting to perpetuate. and the House of Lords ceases to be Scotland’s concern on Independence Day.
What Fraser fails to address are the fatal flaws at the heart of the political union between Scotland and England. The flaws which have been there since its inception as a device by which to better entrench the ruling elites of the time and their successors. The flaws which lay dormant for three centuries awaiting only the moment when the people of Scotland found a voice by which to challenge the power of the British political establishment.
It is difficult to discern any federal solution which deals satisfactorily with the first of these flaws – the undemocratic asymmetry of the union. At best, it is likely to be another attempt to polish that particular turd. If the dominant status of England in the union is problematic, as the federalist case seems to acknowledge, then why settle for dealing partially with this problem? Why not eradicate the problem completely? Had there ever been a credible argument that Scotland benefited from having any part of its governance in the hands of the British political elite, that argument evaporated long ago. Any possibility of a positive case for the union was finally blown away by the mighty, moist, malodorous fart of the EU referendum and its aftermath.
And federalism cannot in any way resolve the second of the flaws which have forever doomed the union. It cannot resolve the conflict between the irreconcilable and mutually exclusive doctrines of parliamentary sovereignty and popular sovereignty.
Only with the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status can the principle that sovereignty is vested in the people be fully restored.
Devolution is dead. Federalism is no substitute. Independence! Nothing less!Views: 3968
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