Saturday, 7 March 2009

There is power in a Union

Many of those who support the idea of an English parliament consider themselves to be English Nationalists, a term which I certainly would not apply to myself. Some see the enemy as the Unionists, those who continue to believe in the idea of Great Britain and who retain a loyalty to the concept of the United Kingdom.
I think this attitude is mistaken and I see no antipathy between a belief in the continued viability of a unified Britain and the notion of constitutional fairness. The architects and supporters of the unfair devolution settlement are the real nationalists, for they are the ones who have seen to it that the 'United Kingdom' is no longer united. They are the ones who have ensured that the UK parliament now contains two classes of MPs - those who can legislate on domestic matters affecting their own constituencies and those who cannot because such matters are now the remit of the devolved parliament/assemblies. They are the ones who refuse to extend equal privileges to all the constituent nations of the UK and who have created a situation whereby the degree of democratic influence a UK citizen has over how he/she is governed depends on whether or not he/she lives in one of the 'proud, historic nations' of the UK or merely in one of the 'regions'.
The people responsible for asymmetric devolution have put the interests of individual UK nations above those of the UK as a whole. To wish to help limit the damage and remedy the unfairness by advocating equal constitutional rights for all citizens of the UK makes me, far from an English nationalist, a believer in, and supporter of, the United Kingdom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think you need to make 'English nationalist' and 'supporter of the United Kingdom' mutually exclusive terms. I agree with you that New Labour shattered the old unitary and equal system of governance in the UK along with the sense of shared Britishness that went with it - which they've gone on about endlessly ever since but have tried to impose only on the English, so that we won't insist on our democratic rights as a nation.

But that's the point: nationalism and the Union are not necessarily antagonists; it's only the faux unionists in government that try to make them out as such. Once England is again treated fairly alongside its neighbours, there's a chance to re-create a new union of friendly nations; although it won't be able to be one ruled from the Westminster and English centre in the same way as before. In other words, as you imply by your choice of the phrase 'supporter of the United Kingdom', it will have to be a kingdom united by the sense of shared interests and appreciation of what we can offer each other as nations; but no longer a 'Britain' that denies the aspirations of any of the UK's nations.

Indeed, if such an equitable union is not established, then the UK as presently constituted is surely doomed. But that's not 'nationalism''s fault but that of the short-sighted government and political establishment.