Vince on devolution…
While the SNP is busy sticking the boot in over a Liberal Democrat MEP’s expenses Vincent Cable has penned a piece for the Sunday Mail on the potential complications of Scottish independence. I have to take Vince to task a little; one thing should be clear from the start, if the Scottish people want independence then it is their right. I believe whole-heartedly in the doctrine that each nation has its own right to self-determination. This is not something our leadership agrees with given it’s policy on Afghanistan (hat-tip Liberal Vision for rightly supporting withdrawal) however, to me it is part of democracy.
Of course, supporting this isn’t the last word and then does not mean automatically we should advocate it as a matter of principle (if we did we would we would be nationalists). On balance, I think the union remains mutually beneficial though I think it needs radical reform and a more democratised union would survive any political storm. I am a republican and therefore support the complete dismantling of the constitutional monarchy state; the end of royal prerogative, the abolition of the House of Lords and the removal of the monarch as head of state. Furthermore, electoral reform and a written constitution would enhance our democracy dramatically.
In this much changed United Kingdom, with its place guaranteed in a voluntary federation, Scotland I am convinced would find a happy place to sit and would not feel so threatened by the election of an over-mighty executive. It is the election of a Conservative government and precisely in an electoral imposition by England that Vince sees as bringing matters to a head and giving the necessary impetus to the Scottish independence movement;
“But there’s a potential fly in the ointment. If the Conservatives were to win the next Election, we could well see a situation where there’s a Conservative government with a majority in the Westminster Parliament and next to no MPs from Scotland.
I hope David Cameron does not want the United Kingdom to break up but he could be the catalyst for it.”
He may well be right, after all it was the Conservative railroading through of the poll tax that provided the last shot in the arm for the SNP. However, the solution is not to defend the Union as it is but to campaign for a complete overhaul of the state apparatus on which it is currently based. If we want Scotland to stay in the Union then the way to avoid this ‘coming crash in slow motion’ is not through defending things as are but to fundamentally alter the constitutional settlement forever.