(Photograph by martin_vmorris)
Elijah Pryor calls for an English parliament as a means of enhancing democracy.
Contrary to what Tony Blair believed, devolution did not strengthen the United Kingdom; it has in fact initiated its break up. Scotland was granted its own parliament, Northern Ireland and Wales an Assembly, legislative powers for Scotland and Northern Ireland and executive powers for Wales. Scotland’s ability to plan and adjust policy has led to free NHS prescriptions and free tuition fees for home students. Despite its non-handling of fiscal policy, its economy continues to boom since the Devolution campaign of 1999, and its income tax levy of 3p either way remains touched. Teachers and parents in Scotland and Wales are reporting less instances of gender discrimination by children in secondary schools, credit perhaps owed to training courses for teachers on how to deal with inequalities within the classrooms. Is this just coincidence or is decision-making key to this occurrence? Scotland will have the ability to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to independence from the UK in the coming years, whatever way they vote there will be two options up for draw; the United Kingdom will have to re-arrange its already weakened relations with state and territorial-level on decision making, or, the Union is broken down and each nation creates its very own sovereign state. Now let’s try to understand what each of these options would mean for England.
Re-arrangement of the United Kingdom
Whether Scotland votes yes or no, a re-arrangement is inevitable. The very fact that the SNP were able to push for a referendum signals that there is a disjointed relationship between the Union and Scotland, a vote against Scottish independence would not signal the end of the questioning of Westminster’s power but only lead to calls for further devolution. A vote in favour of independence would mean that the United Kingdom would lose near to 5.3 million citizens representing voters, workers, entrepreneurs, investors, taxpayers etc. and require that Labour lean further Right or spur a change in the political consensus of the remaining UK population. The Union would not only save money, but lose money as well with the removal of subsidies and taxpayers, leaving England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the question of what to do next. If the current government does not begin to contemplate strategies on how the Union cushions the break-off, we could be left with an extremely disorganised Union. Which would beg the question, why maintain the status quo and why knowingly watch the disintegration of the Union without providing an alternative? Just as the body cannot withstand organ loss, the union cannot survive the severing of a part of its body.
Whichever way the Scottish vote on independence, one serious option for England is withdrawal from the United Kingdom and the formation of its own sovereign state. With Scotland out of the Union, the UK parliament would have to re-structure and re-establish its power through a new Union. This is a costly and risky procedure. After all, who’s to say that Wales are likely to stick with the UK if Scotland leaves? Although Wales has never been much of a hot spot for separatism, pressures for further devolution will lead to pressures on the state and pressures on the state can spark discussion. England has a population of 53 million, is financially viable to run on its own and could retain economic and political relations with its neighbouring countries, in fact with each former-UK territory running its own ship we could see greater economic developments in the British Isle. Additionally, it is argued that United Kingdom’s bonding of the four home-nations allows for resources to be siphoned away from England and directed into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which enjoy subsidies on education and healthcare whilst England is left with a greater burden. England was neglected through the devolution campaign and instead regional QUANGO’s (about as effective as a plaster to a severed limb) were put in place after a failed referendum in the North East of England for regional devolution. However, the devolution campaign in England failed due to a lack of information and resources vested by the Labour government of the time. The case for English independence, however, does not lie in immigration control, the promotion of purely English values or racist slander, but in the need for defending the rights and individual liberty of residents of England (whether they are an immigrant or citizen, black or white). It is evident that an English Parliament would enhance democracy and allow a greater degree of compassion at government level, especially under the supervision of Proportional Representation. Shouldn’t England be pro-active and plan for an English Parliament if Scotland withdraws?
Shouldn’t England be pro-active and plan for an English Parliament if Scotland withdraws?
One last question
The environment, the people, scientific development, the communities and economy all depend on the structuring of the state and England’s future can be undermined by poor decisions made by those sympathetic of the United Kingdom. It seems odd that in a time where the European Union is asking for greater integration, countries are being split like rocks to favour the demands of the various populations. We no longer live in an industrializing country and our monarchy no longer holds any considerable power, so can a Union treaty formed over 200 years ago still be relevant? Does this mean we should leave the Union or update it?
Elijah Pryor is founder and leader of the Localist Party of England, pushing for devolution in England and greater democratic participation. Writing to spur creativity and politics with compassion.
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