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18.12.08

Devolution Question should be discussed UK-wide, not just by Scottish elites

An article here from Unlock Democracy which I think is spot on.



“Like the Calman Commission, we strongly believe that Scottish devolution has been a great success. The rest of the UK would benefit from greater devolution and decentralisation as well.

“However, the implications of furthering Scottish devolution affect the whole of the UK, not just Scotland. There is a real danger that if it looks at Scottish devolution in isolation of the wider constitutional settlement, the conclusions of the Calman Commission could prove to be even more divisive than the status quo.

“Sadly the First Report suggests this may well happen. For example, it warns against greater financial autonomy on the grounds that it would lead to less ’shared social citizenship.’ That may be true in Scotland but the experience suggests that, if anything, the lack of financial autonomy is causing resentment in England and goes to the heart of Tam Dalyell’s West Lothian Question. Fundamentally, we believe this to be a false dichotomy; a fairer and more transparent financial settlement will be good for Anglo-Scottish relations on both sides of the border.

“Finally, the competition between the Calman Commission and the Scottish Government’s own National Conversation is divisive and will potentially lead to a stalemate. Neither review has shown much interest in engaging the public beyond the usual suspects. Unlock Democracy continues to call for a Scottish-wide Convention lead by citizens, not the great and the good, feeding into a wider process involving people from across the UK.”

So when do the Cornish get the chance to debate their constitutional arrangements? Was the petition of 50,000 signatures not enough to spark the process. Did we ever really have a choice about Unitary status? Is it right that the Duchy, which can still meddle in Cornish politics, exists beyond the law? The Scottish get two constitutional commissions in what can only be described as a political competition yet the Cornish along with the people of England get nothing except ignored.

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