On the Future Governance of the United Kingdom

Now that the election is over we have some indication of the future of the British State.

Whatever that future is, it will not be the status quo

Cameron has indicated that he intends to solve the Scottish Problem within the union and has five untrammelled years to do it. What are the possibilities? He says he wants to govern for ‘one nation’ (difficult when there are four nationalities involved!) but by this he really means one political entity. He has promised considerably further powers and the SNP will be demanding more.

Cameron has a majority but has every reason to try to keep the 56 SNP MPs in their box and not give themselves the opportunity to derail other government plans; both sides have an interest in spiking each others guns.

Now let us look at the politics. The SNP wants Independence as an end goal but is willing to take any route to get there. Cameron wants Conservative hegemony over the UK (which is sporadic) and England (which is easier to obtain). Sturgeon would love to be the FM to lead Scotland out of the Union and Cameron abhors being the PM who split the Union.

Look for the common ground and assess the problems.

COMMON GROUND- Scots should decide Scottish domestic politics, English should decide English domestic policies. Some method of controlling federal power needs to be determined.

PROBLEMS- The SNP want Full Fiscal Autonomy but cannot afford it while oil prices are depressed without finding other streams of income. Cameron finds his nuclear option is based in hostile territory causing political problems to both England and Scotland. A meta problem is- the relationship is going to change whether it s desired or not; it is better to be managed rather than anarchic.

So, what would a rational and mutually acceptable solution be:

1/ EVEL for England and near Home Rule for Scotland as soon as possible. Wales and NI to also receive increased devolved powers. Some form of Federal Control.
2/ Agreement that there will be a ten or fifteen year truce where Scotland will not seek another referendum without cause (UK withdrawing from the EU or reneging on agreements.)
3/ During this period as oil prices find their level and Scotland discovers what is economically possible, there is a gradual move from Barnett to FFA with all Scottish revenues applied to Scottish expenditure (?with Trident costs being absorbed by England alone and all such facilities reprovided elsewhere than Scotland during the period.)
4/ A two way referendum agreed for a future date (2025 or 2030) with all countries to vote on whether the new structure has worked or whether there is an alternative.

Who benefits?

Scotland has almost full home rule for a guaranteed ten to fifteen years with no problems with financial transition. Scotland can decide whether it still wants to be Social Democratic or more neo-liberal. Scotland is guaranteed both a future referendum and stability as it progresses either to Home Rule or Independence.

Cameron virtually guarantees that all English domestic policies for three parliaments.will be decided by a series of Conservative governments. Of course England may rediscover some of its social democratic roots. The SNP are firmly in a box. Labour will not form a government for a generation and it s unlikely that the British population or the four parliaments would appoint left wingers to control foreign affairs or military plans- never their forte!

Pjen, you’ve had some stick for raising thread after thread on this topic over the last few months but two things worth mentioning here.

a) this is the right time for this discussion
b) The scenarios you lay out seem pretty sensible.

Personally I think Cameron will stick to the two main points of EVEL and further powers for Scotland. If anything the SNP landslide makes both of those things crucial to placating the various nationalistic voters.

The minutiae of those discussions will be fascinating but too complicated to plot a path through them yet.

The big complication may be that, while the SNP have done brilliantly, their huge share of the vote may well be down to non-separatists seeking momentum for further devolved powers. Once those powers are enshrined I suspect there will be a leaking of votes back to Labour and Liberal in Scotland. This may be the high water mark for the SNP and much will depend on how well Nicola Sturgeon can capitalise on it to ensure her long-term goals. She seems a shrewd enough cookie though.

Thanks for your recognition.

One of my main contentions was that whatever happened, Scottish separation would continue in some manner even if short of Independence. The fact that Cameron is offering so much goes to support my second contention - that it would take skilled statesmanship to avoid an unplanned exit; Cameron seems up to the job.

I agree that this is the SNP’s high water mark, but I suspect separatist feelings (possibly short of independence) will naturally continue to increase.

Aside from solving this long term constitutional conundrum, there is the impending vote on membership of the EU, as promised by Cameron.

That referendum will be every bit as intense as the vote on Scottish independence and will be hugely significant.

If the UK votes to leave, the SNP will probably claim this as reason for another independence vote, that seems to be their position.

Dealing with the Devolution question and the EU question seem to be the two main challenges for the Cameron government aside from the not inconsiderable task of growing the economy out of a deficit.

The SNP vote in Scotland has rather forced the devolution issue to the top of the pile. That is quite an achievement. It also undermined the Labour and SDP vote and gave the Conservatives a majority in Westminster. The SNP were rather hoping to be dealing with a minority Labour government, instead of Cameron with a majority.

The UK government is only committed to deliver what it promised before the independence vote, not the full shopping list desired by the SNP. Devolution also covers Wales and Northern Ireland, who will have their own views regarding how it should work and the interests of the silent majority in England have to be taken into account.

The intention is a devolved constitutional settlement for the UK, that is not the same as the rather fanciful ‘have your cake and eat it’ aspirations of the SNP, much as they may wish it were so.

There have been strong indications that the top Tories- Cameron, Osbourne and even Boris are in favour of offering considerably more than the Smith Commission middle way.

Cameron wants to be able to apply flu EVEL which requires the SNP to be satisfied at having no input into English decisions. There have been hints at offers of FFA and Home Rule.

As I have said several times, the Irish independence settlement was made over a generation and I think that statesmen will look to that model.

I am nervous that EVEL will be counterproductive and could accelerate the end of the Union. There’s little that can be identified as an English-only matter in the British Parliament. Unless they utterly overthrow the Barnett Formula and completely transform how devolution works, I doubt they’ll figure such a matter out.

I don’t think a federal system would work either, as England by itself is so overwhelmingly enormous compared to the others. It could only work if England were broken up into smaller composite bodies.

Of greater urgency I think is more formal devolution of the machinery of government in Whitehall and better acknowledgement in the civil service of devolution (which they’ve barely acknowledged for the past 15 years).

Cameron and the SNP have already lost the Union: since he’s only staying on for one term it could be cheapest to force full independence on the Scots as soon as possible. They can raise their own taxes from a small population and pay for their own defence, administration and the high cost of Holyrood MPs etc. [ Something the smaller entities such as Wales or Ulster could not manage ].
Apart from the lack of oil revenue they were banking on, there’s the issue of Trident ( which is certainly pretty useless ), their stupidity was supposing that it’s abolition would free up a lot of money: and so it might, but that money — if any — would not go to an independent Scotland, but to the British Treasury. Therefore they would have to be in the present Union to benefit; and they want out.
I’ve said it before, but pre-Union Scotland : the poorest country in Europe.

How is slightly under four years a generation? Or is that why you think there should be another referendum that soon?

Ireland declared independence in January 1919, a treaty was signed in December 1921 that came into force a year later, leading to the independent Irish Free State in December 1922.

Pjen, if you are going to keep referencing Ireland in your arguments about Scotland, you urgently need to look at the history of Irish independence, you’ve been wrong on just about every point you’ve ever made about it.

1/ It would delay an independence independence to 2025 or 2030. I did not say that that was a generation. What I did say was that it would exclude Labour from government of either England or the UK for a generation.

2/ Ireland had ‘home rule’ as a Dominion under the Crown from 1922 to 1937 at which date there was a plebiscite to leave British rule completely. That is fifteen years of home rule.

How about addressing the whole package and compare it with the proposals being leaked by Cameron, Osbourne and Johnson in the past 48 hours.

It does look like Home Rule of some sort is on offer to solve the Scotland problem for the Tories and allow them untrammelled access to redesigning England.

There is no way that he would want immediate independence for Scotland as he is a died in the wool unionist in charge of a unionist party. And he is on record of wanting to be statesmanlike over the issue. Independence is not on offer and Sturgeon is too clever to call a second referendum before there is a long history of opinion polls showing support.

Apart from it being illegal and almost impossible to expel Scotland except by negotiation.

Scotland may have been a poor nation some 300 years ago, but currently as an economic entity is well up the European table.

Some sort of federation will work quite well IMHO.

All national expenditure quotas will be decided locally, initially under the Barnett formula or something like it and gradually changed as each country finds its own level of ability to fund itself.

Macro-economic questions- control of the currency, and monetary policy, foreign affairs and most military decisions to be made by the federal body initially with gradual transfer as appropriate to the nations.

It is a typically British compromise that could just work by blurring rules and outcomes.

But the ever-ducked problem is this: what if the English majority block what the UK majority wants? Does it become a confidence issue? As England’s so huge, its decisions can directly impact the economies of the other countries in degrees unknown in other Unions.

It risks being extremely unstable.

Reserved powers for decision making in the federal structure and the fear of losing the union.

Sorry, what are you replying to there? What ‘reserve powers’?

Tory Lord Salisbury is worth a read.

Powers reserved to individual nations’ representatives- the requirement for more than a simple majority in the Federal body.

Maybe have all the Federal members elected from super constituencies size dependent on population

NI 2 million
Wales 3 million
Scotland 5 million


South West
South East,
East Anglia
West Midlands
East Midlands
North West
North East,

With three members for every million voters. Each delegation to have an odd number of representatives.

Decisions need to be made on legislation by a simple majority of all members and a confirming majority of regions.

For once, Pjen is not opening one more tedious thread to discuss the wonders of Scots’ independence.

If ANYONE wants to post on that topic, go re-open one of the dozen or so existing threads to address it.

Do not drag independence into this thread and then whine that Pjen is doing the "same old thing.

[ /Moderating ]

Yes. This post is about what is currently happening and what it might lead to.

For the US-ians; what is “EVEL”?

Googling it just gets articles about a motorcycle stuntman. Apologies if it’s in one of the posts and I missed it.

Sorry, it is shorthand for “English votes for English laws”. As Scotland has many devolved powers it is something of an issue that Scottish MP’s at Westminster get to vote on laws that will not affect their own constituencies. Some form of EVEL process will likely be needed before any further powers are transferred to Scotland.