Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Happy Saint Andrew's Day

There should be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom today, and on Saint George's Day, Saint David's Day and Saint Patrick's Day. Three fall in these Islands' incomparable Spring and early Summer, while the fourth, today, would preclude any Christmas anything until it was out of the way. Away with pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday. If we had proper holidays, as in other countries, then everyone, even shop workers and distribution drivers, would have those days off, as in other countries.

But pity poor Sir Kenneth Calman, never exactly everyone's flavour of the month at Durham, but always very kind and civil to me. The launch of proposals based on his Report is deemed less newsworthy than the weather. An apparently never-ending war, a global economic crisis, Korea, the collapse of Irish independence (never an economic, strategic or cultural reality) after fewer than 90 years: how very Noughties his ideas now seem, and indeed are.

In any case, the last thing that David Cameron needs is another fight with his own right wing. Support for Calman within the Labour Party comes from people whom Ed Miliband has scarcely met, who have at best a chequered record at winning the elections that they contest, and who would have no votes on any legislation in this vein, whereas visceral opposition comes from people whom he has known for years, whom he sees every working day, who would have votes on any such legislation, and who have this year demonstrated that they are electorally irremovable, now to the point of outright dynasticism in some cases, of which expect plenty more in the years to come.

As for the Lib Dems, they are in enough trouble already without prodding the sleeping dog that is the heavy Scottishness of their parliamentary party, many of whom, up to and including one of the most prominent Lib Dems in the country, were only ever even mildly keen on devolution (or the EU) when they assumed that they would never be in a position at Westminster to deliver on their local communitarian populism and their single-issue campaigns, and in any case often sit for areas where the vote for it was relatively low. To their contingent at Holyrood, Cabinet Ministers could and would reasonably turn round and say, "Who are you?" Even in Scotland, would anyone know the answer to that one?

Happy Saint Andrew's Day, indeed.


  1. You, the man who said there would be no more devolution - indeed you claimed it would be reversed. Ha ha ha!

  2. Believe in this Bill getting through when it actually happens, not so much because it will be blocked (although it will be deeply divisive within all three parties, at Westminster Labour least of all because they are almost all against it), but because there will always be something more pressing. Anything at all, in fact.