I’ve just read a really good little book, of 156 pages, called ‘Acts of UNION and DISUNION’ by Linda Colley which describes the history of the United Kingdom and what has held it together and what is dividing it.
In her final chapter she writes :-
“A widely recognised way of managing fault-lines and diversity in states is by improving and revising the quality of governance.(Amen to that!) So how might this be attempted in the UK? Let me end by offering three suggestions , the purely private observations of a semi-detached if attentive observer.”
Her three suggestions are :-
- To match the devolved Parliament and Assembles of the 1990s England needs its own Parliament situated in the North of England to help lessen the North-South divide.
- If one above takes place then the UK needs to work out a more federal system with Westminster concentrating on national issues with a great deal of power, decision making and taxation devolved to the four national parliaments and to local and regional authorities.
- A more federal UK would need a written constitution – which as well as serving to entrench and communicate citizens rights and the workings of a devolved political system, a new written constitution might supply some fresh constitutive stories for a new kind of Union.
Finally she concludes with the quote “ A policy of drift will never result in united strength” to which I’d add another “ If we want things to stay the same then things are going to have to change.”
So this book is in tune with much of the THA in particular our second demand for ‘Real Local Government’ and our sixth demands 'A codified constitution' which apart from creating a constitution for the 21st century would also confirm all five demands. It is ironic that this country has helped write constitutions for other countries, for example Germany after the WW2 and more recently Iraq, and yet still has a constitution that forbids MPs wearing a suit of armour in parliament.