YES, there IS a constitutional crisis and it’s legislative devolution that’s caused it – Stephen Bailey

By Stephen Bailey

At it’s inception more than twenty years ago, the proponents of legislative devolution (setting up devolved legislatures with the power to enact primary legislation, e.g. Holyrood, the Welsh ‘parliament’ and Stormont) vehemently insisted that it posed ‘no threat whatsoever’ to the integrity of the Union as there was absolutely no way that it could be used to break up the UK. Indeed, Labour politician George Robertson even claimed it would ‘kill off nationalism for ever’. They equally vehemently insisted time and time again that it would be the ‘thing that saved the United Kingdom from nationalism and from being broken up’.

History has proved them wrong, time and time again. In reality, devolution has had a diametrically opposed effect to that set out by its originators. It has enabled nationalism, especially the SNP in Scotland, but also IRA/Sinn Fein and the SDLP in Northern Ireland plus Plaid Cymru in Wales to varying lesser degrees, to rise to political dominance (or given them much more prominence in the case of NI and Wales), displacing Unionist parties and allowed it to use its devolved legislature as a platform to advance its independence/re-unification agenda, so putting the UK in very clear and present danger of being forced apart, against the will of the majority of the public. This has culminated in the SNP managing to push David Cameron into holding a referendum on independence in 2014, very obviously a real and severe threat to the Union.

This has undeniably been the case in Scotland, where the SNP has very aggressively ignored any reserved remit which states that matters like the Constitution and international trade/relations (which covers Brexit) are reserved for Westminster’s consideration only. It’s equally true that nationalists elsewhere in the UK (Plaid in Wales and the Irish nationalists) do this as both have become increasingly emboldened by the SNP’s antics (in a knock on ‘Domino Effect’) to become more actively bellicose in demanding independence/re-unification. Indeed, Plaid have recently publicly stated that they will ask for an independence referendum if Scotland asks for a second one and the Irish nationalists have made one public call after another for re-unification recently.

All the devolved legislatures have also interfered in Brexit, another supposedly reserved matter. Time and time again they’ve tried to change the UK’s policy on Brexit, despite having no authority to do so under the devolution ‘settlement‘ or mandate to do so as it was a UK wide vote that favoured leaving the EU and more Scots voted for Brexit than for the SNP at the last Holyrood election.

This glut of interference by the various nationalists has culminated in a severe constitutional crisis as separatist nationalists have forced the UK into a dysfunctional state of bring a set of four competing quarrelling statelets with no co-ordination that is drifting slowly apart, putting the Union into more and more danger of splitting up.

Save the Union? Kill nationalism off for ever? Legislative devolution has had s diametrically opposed effect to this. It has been the agent of the decline and near collapse of the UK and a very powerful tool for nationalism to utilise in its efforts to break the Union and destroy the UK. No amount of tinkering with Blair’s devolution ‘settlement’ will correct these fatal intrinsic flaws (they’ve been trying to fix it for over twenty years now and failed as it’s not capable of repair) and the only viable solution is to get rid of the mechanism that enables them to do this – legislative devolution, Holyrood, the Welsh ‘parliament’ and Stormont.

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