Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Leaders of Chaos

The calamitous descent of the Westminster party leaders into ignominy over the Scottish referendum is now complete.  Panicked by opinion polls, lacking any confidence in the Union as it stands, failing to provide leadership of any sort and exhibiting an extraordinary level of short-term political cowardice, the Cameron-Miliband-Clegg bandwagon has finally hit the buffers with the issuing of an unprecedented 'Vow' to the Scottish people.  What makes it even more ironic is that the vow in question has been largely crafted by the much-maligned previous Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.  Yes, so bereft of ideas and political clout is David Cameron that he has simply allowed Brown's agenda to prevail.

The "Vow" essentially promises everything short of outright independence.  Alex Salmond wins whatever the vote on Thursday.  The inequitable Barnett formula for funding Scotland's excessive public spending regime is to continue.  The Scottish parliament is to gain yet more powers (whilst Scottish MPs presumably remain at Westminster, merrily legislating on English issues because they haven't the capacity to legislate on their own home ones).  And, most astonishingly of all, they've promised that the Scottish Parliament will be a "permanent and irreversible part of the British Constitution."  The most constitutionally illiterate leaders in British political history have promised to codify just one part of our constitution to embed one assembly, with blithe disregard for the mayhem that must follow as they find themselves patching up tear after tear.

When Mr. Cameron first agreed a Scottish referendum, it was on the understanding that it would provide a decisive and permanent answer to the devolution issue.  Either Scotland was out, or she was in the UK as it stands.  That was the point of not having "devo-max" on the ballot paper.  Now, as part of his typically short-termist political approach Cameron has U-turned again, but this one will prove the most costly and damaging U-turn of all.  He failed to appreciate the significance of the Scottish issue until an opinion poll woke him up.  How long will it be before he's looking at opinion polls that demand English, or Welsh, or Northern Irish restitution for the huge boons rashly promised to Scotland?  Cameron and his equally culpable fellow party leaders have just lit the blue touchpaper which will lead to constitutional chaos in the UK for a long time to come, and none of them have the vision or creativity to deal with it.  It'll almost be easier if the Scots vote 'Yes' on Thursday.




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