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Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Today is the 300th anniversary of the dissolution of Scotland & England which were henceforth be known as North Britain & South Britain. Indeed there are a whole bunch of stories in the Scotsman today & last Sunday about it. I really don't think there is much denying that the union was good for us at the time. The Scottish economy took off. At the time Scotland had probably the highest level of literacy in the world but was very poor. This was part of the Presbyterian tradition. When you allow a population of well educated, hard working people free trade with a wealthier economy the result is exactly as free marketists would predict. It is not merely Scotland who benefited - the human union dividend to England & the Empire, in the form of the Scots inventors, scientists, administrators & soldiers who built the industrial revolution & Empire is beyond calculation.

As Benjamin Disraeli said "Wherever in the world I go I find a Scotchman & wherever I find a Scotchman he is at the top of the poll" - considerable praise from such a source.

It may be that during the 20thC the union did not serve us so well, though would Hitler have been beaten had we been the sort of almost disarmed neutral the SNP look to being? Certainly the end of the Empire removed much of the common purpose between us. Equally the increasing power of government & the fact that Westminster is literally at the other end of the country, combined with a growth in dependency culture has done great damage increasing alienation & deadening our spirit.

THE FUTURE: Something had to be done. So far devolution has been more of an unsuccessful trial than a glorious advance. Nonetheless I believe that, partly because we have a PR electoral system which gives more space to multiple parties & thus multiple ideas we have the possibility of achieving a lot. I am not certain that the union will survive but I hope so. Either way a resurgence of either Scotland, or the entire country will learn from & depend on the example of Ireland & to a much lesser extent other countries making similar economic progress. As part of a union we can look forward to a more influential role than they could.

My preference would be a reformed Federation of Great Britain. I believe that federation is most often the best form of government. Our American cousins will understand this because it is an example of what is called separation of powers - if power is not concentrated in one politburo it is more difficult to abuse & much more difficult to exercise censorship, or political correctness as it is now called. This also requires that both levels of government have more ability to prevent each other passing silly laws rather than, like the EU, providing another layer of bureaucrats whose main power is to stop things. Hopefully the nationalistic differences will provide enough centripetal pressure to keep the federal power under control, as it seems to an increasing degree not to be doing in the US. Currently it seems that consideration in England is much more towards England being a single state in this union, which I think would be unfortunate since it clearly unbalanced the union & also because one benefit of federation is that each region can try its own policies & it will become more obvious which work, something more difficult with fewer & more disproportionate units. However England's constitutional arrangements must please England & we should properly have no vote in it. Even if one English parliament emerges, with a PR system & not merely the English MPs sitting together 3 days a week which many Tories clearly think will benefit them, it should be possible to ensure a constitutional way that regions of England if they so desire can become separate parts of the union.

In very much less than 300 years we could have a Federal Great Britain made up of Scotland, North England, Midlands, South England, London, Devon & Cornwall, East Anglia, Wales, Ireland, Channel isles, Isle of Man, Orkney & Shetland, Western Isles, L4 I, L4 II, L4 III, L4 IV, Vega, Luna City, Triton etc. Now wouldn't that be cool?

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