The next Labour Government will be uniquely well-placed to make that happen by restoring the grounds for such celebration. It is already shaping up to have the feel of Willie Ross, who was Harold Wilson’s only ever Scottish Secretary, and who pursued solidly post-War social democratic measures while, and therefore, giving no quarter whatever either to separatism or to European federalism, as well as trying to ban advertising during television programmes on Sundays, Christmas and Good Friday. On every point, several of the people closest to Ed Miliband more than recall that and other figures the like of whom we had assumed that we should never see again.
The Welfare State, workers’ rights, full employment, a strong Parliament, trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies, mutual building societies, and nationalised industries, the last often with the word “British” in their names, were historically successful in creating communities of interest among the several parts of the United Kingdom, thus safeguarding and strengthening the Union.
The public stakes in the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland are such permanent, non-negotiable safeguards of the Union. Any profits from those stakes ought therefore to be divided equally among all households in the United Kingdom.
Bevan ridiculed the first parliamentary Welsh Day on the grounds that “Welsh coal is the same as English coal and Welsh sheep are the same as English sheep”.
In the 1970s, Labour MPs successfully opposed Scottish and Welsh devolution not least because of its ruinous effects on the North of England. Labour activists in the Scottish Highlands, Islands and Borders, and in North, Mid and West Wales, accurately predicted that their areas would be balefully neglected under devolution.
Eric Heffer in England, Tam Dalyell and the Buchans (Norman and Janey) in Scotland, and Leo Abse and Neil Kinnock in Wales, were prescient as to the Balkanisation of Britain by means of devolution and the separatism that it was designed to appease, and as to devolution’s weakening of trade union negotiating power.
Abse, in particular, was prescient as to the rise of a Welsh-speaking oligarchy based in English-speaking areas, which would use devolution to dominate Welsh affairs against the interests of Welsh workers South and North, industrial and agricultural, English-speaking and Welsh-speaking. Heffer’s political base was in Liverpool, at once very much like the West of Scotland and with close ties to Welsh-speaking North Wales.
There is a strong feeling among English, Scottish and Welsh ethnic minorities and Catholics that we no more want to go down the road of who is or is not “really” English, Scottish or Welsh than Ulster Protestants want to go down the road of who is or is not “really” Irish.
The Scotland Office Select Committee is chaired by Ian Davidson, a Co-operative Party stalwart and Janey Buchan protégé who is therefore a hammer both of Scottish separatism and of European federalism.
There is no West Lothian Question, since the Parliament of the United Kingdom reserves the right to legislate supremely in any policy area for any part of the country, and the devolution legislation presupposes that it will do so as a matter of course.
It never, ever need do so and the point would still stand, since what matters is purely that it has that power in principle, which no one disputes that it has, or else there would be no perceived need, either of the SNP, or of a referendum on independence. Anyone who does not like that ought to have voted No to devolution. I bet that they did not.
The simplest examination of General Election results at least since 1945 gives the lie to the lazy fantasy that an independent England would have had, and therefore might have in the future, a permanent or semi-permanent Conservative Government rather than, as was and would be the case, a Labour Government almost exactly as often as happened within the United Kingdom, including with comfortable or landslide majorities on every occasion when that was the case under the current arrangements.
Those who would counter that that was and would be seats, not votes, are almost always strong supporters of First Past The Post, and must face the fact that England would never return a single-party government under any other electoral system. Great swathes of England scarcely elect Conservative MPs at all.
The notion that the Conservative Party has a unique right to speak for England is as fallacious and offensive as the notion that the Conservative Party has a unique right to speak for the countryside. But of that, another time.