A Federation of equals

I think there is another F concerns me, though this time perhaps fairly advantageously

F in this instance is for Federalism – something I’ve long been in favour of.

We can now realise that it would help protect us from central government being too absolutist.

Federalism can be part of the balance of powers.

A recent article seems to suggest as much. It is from the ‘Morning Star’ – now, I think a cooperative, though I’m not sure. The article by Pauline Bryan who is a Labour peer! and also convener of the Red Pepper Collective.suggests:

In Wales in January 2021 there was the launch of We the People: The case for Radical Federalism. Supported by the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, it made the case for the shared governance of the UK.

It argued that radical constitutional reform is a necessity. It stated that the people of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England should be offered the opportunity to make a positive choice to envision, and contribute to the creation of a modern, collaborative, distributed and open democracy.

In Scotland the Red Pepper Collective has continued to make the case for progressive federalism. It argues that any constitutional arrangement must ensure the redistribution of wealth throughout the UK, be built on democratic control of the economy — as without that real power is not devolved — and be based on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. Solidarity with working people everywhere, but ensuring that power is held at the most local level where it can be delivered effectively.

I agree – I think the desire for Scottish independence is entirely understandable, but is in the end a black and white Brexit style decision – and the fallout for both nations will be at least as bad – if not worse than Brexit (under cover of Covid) is proving to be.

It is not just the nations that are calling for greater powers locally and a real say in central decisions. The past five years have given voices to regions through their elected mayors.

This approach may not appeal to independence parties, but it would appeal to their voters, who recognise that a future promise of a better life under independence is not a substitute for fighting for a better life here and now.

Even the UK Treasury hints at the workings…

All four nations need to understand ‘subsidiarity’ and particularly the way that the over-centralised and power crazed, moral vacuum of a government that is currently in Westminster operates.

If you don’t have a union of equals, you don’t have a union. You have simply coercion.

In England, we have now the Yorkshire Party, the Northern Independence Party and the long established Mebyon Kernow.

All this suggests a considerable central government distance from voters – many of whom have a liking for much more local control.

Britain is a small country and England particularly is crowded. But shouldn’t control always be as local as possible?

Yet we currently have the overwhelming majority of our lives controlled by Westminster.

Still, just as policy that greatly affects London should not be written in Blackpool or Wakefield by people who don’t live there, so too for Geordies, Yorkshiremen, the Scots or the Welsh it should certainly not be written in Westminster…

The United States, Canada, Australia and Germany do it. Why can’t we?


  1. Samuel Johnson -

    All four “nations?”

    Three nations and a gerrymandered legacy colony imposed on the Irish people against their wishes. The unionists of NI don’t constitute a nation. They are descendants of British colonial settlers on expropriated land. The imperial gerrymander is expiring fast, thanks to demographic change. I wonder if we’ll still be hearing guff about four nations when NI’s first minister is no longer a unionist?

    The https://cakewat.ch podcast had a good discussion of Federalism and the UK’s governance dysfunction in episode 8. Worth a listen.

    1. Peter May -

      It is certainly arguable that Northern Ireland is not a nation, but gerrymandered or not it is also arguable that it is.
      After all England seems to be a nation even though probably most of the population are descendants of Germans and Danes and they also live on expropriated land…

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