Some time ago, I was talking about federalism coming down the pipeline, this is supposed to ‘cure’ Nationalism and save the Union.
If you think back to my post last written in Nov 2016, you will see how I touched on the Constitutional question.
A part of that post:
“Alex Rowley, her deputy believes Labour should back home rule rather than just opposing independence, the only game in town isn’t called ‘home rule’, it is called Federalism, and it maybe a bandwagon which Kezia Dugdale maybe forced to move onto in a highly public fashion. Federalism isn’t plain sailing, just as the Scottish football team isn’t geared up to win, neither is Scotland geared up to accept Federalism under its current financial position, we don’t pay our way, and the idea of cuts to an already failing system isn’t a vote winner”.
Kezia Dugdale as I predicted was forced to move onto Federalism as her speech in London later was to show.
One of the groups driving for a Federal Uk is the Constitutional Reform Group, if you have the time, you should have a look at their website.
So, how long did I know that the winds of change were blowing Federal?
Quite some time, in fact six months ago, I was making up a video for what I think is needed in Scotland.
When you click on the youtube link, you see an intro for a party that doesn’t exist but might in the future, a centre right Federal Party of Scotland. In theory federalism could work if the country was setup right.
In my post of Nov 2016, I highlighted also that there are dangers if the federal route is gone down, dangers for the Labour Party in Scotland but also for the SNP, Scotland isn’t geared up to be in a Federal UK. The nub is cash, we don’t pay our way, and the country isn’t as I mentioned above set up either and I don’t the public is on board with the concept either.
The Labour Party is in the UK is in a mess, Scotland has been lost; the leadership down South are facing an uphill struggle to connect with the people. Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t the support of his MPs and never will unless there is a big replacement, and even Labour voters think the Conservative PM would do a better job of governing the UK.
Lots and lots of problems!
I have to say that in the mist of chaos that Labour MP John McDonnell comes swanning along and calls for a 'radical federal UK' as Labour shifts ground. The surprise is that the ground under Labour is solid enough to go on adventures. The Constitutional settlement isn’t why Scots abandoned the Labour Party, the reason is quite simple, the Labour Party failed to protect and serve the working class people.
If there is a federal UK, you might to wait a rather long time before you see the Labour Party become the government of the UK again.
UK Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said:
“I believe there is immense potential in developing a radical federal structure [for the UK].”
To be absolutely clear, the people of Scotland who voted Labour but switched to the SNP wouldn’t be coming back because the Labour Party stuck a federal carrot on the table; the problems of why they were rejected still exists. And another thing, the team at Holyrood isn’t seen as having the best or the brightest in the Labour Party in Scotland.
Third rate is how many describe some of them and that’s being kind about it.
If the Labour Party tries to ram through federalism, they would have to have a referendum, and there is no guarantee that they would win it, the Unionist vote that transcends party politics wouldn’t be up for it and the SNP are making noises like they aren’t keen either.
So, what is the problem for the SNP?
Lack of money and having to take responsibility for what might be a poisoned chalice whoever sups from it.
The big thing to note at present is that the people of Scotland aren’t calling for federalism.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone said he was "certain" Labour under Corbyn would embrace federalism. Given that Labour need Scottish MPs to form a UK government, you have to wonder if this idea will turn the Labour Party into a candidate for political suicide, after all many English Conservatives see federalism as a way to rig the vote towards continuous Conservative government.
The Labour alternative to both Scottish independence and the status quo of the Union could see the party plunged into a cycle of defeat which could be incredibly hard to break away from in my opinion. In politics, certain things have a time and place; federalism isn’t the Golden Fleece for Labour.
The best know supporters of Federalism as a policy are the Lib Dems at UK level, they haven’t made any headway with the public on their quest.
When Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale backed federalism in a major speech in London last month, she said the UK needed “a new political settlement” to stop an erratic and uneven distribution of power between its regions and nations.
I doubt that Kezia Dugdale will be at the helm of Scottish Labour to deliver federalism because I doubt that Scottish Labour and the party in the rest of the UK are further away from power than they have ever been in their history.
Only the Conservatives are in a position to deliver federalism but this will not be happening anytime soon under Theresa May as Prime Minister. UK Labour's national elections coordinator Jon Trickett is said to be examining a radical policy package for the party at Westminster to deliver a federal British state if it wins the 2020 General Election.
He need not bother, the Conservatives are going to win the next UK General Election provided that they deliver Brexit in full and don’t attempt to fudge the issue; but let’s be clear; the Labour Party in 2020 will not be the majority party at Westminster. Jeremy Corbyn has already lost that with his support for freedom of movement.
Some parties seem hell bent on destruction, the idea may or may not have merit but the timing is wrong, the policy is wrong and there are too many dangers. Clearly there needs to be more devolution on domestic matters such as a devolved Scottish DWP to address injustice but a country like Scotland would cope badly in a federal set up unless there was additional support such as a Barnett Formula in place.
Federalism poses real dangers for the Labour Party getting back Scottish seats at Westminster, the significance of a Scottish MP already shut out by English votes for English Laws would raise the question does having 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster justify the cost given their massive reduced work load?
MPs would be reduced to the status of MEPS, everyone know they exist but the question of what good are they doing at Westminster flags up when they are effectively reduced to only commenting on foreign affairs and defence.
Ken Livingstone said:
“I've advanced the devolution approach all my political career. If you'd had north east and north west regional parliaments or assemblies they would have got massive investment. So federalism absolutely. We need it as people in regions in all parts of the UK are being excluded by little elites."
Every journey has a start and a destination, however if the Labour Party set the Federal train rolling, they might not like the destination and it could end up a train wreck for them.
Now is not the time to consider federalism, and Labour should reframe from playing politics with the constitution, the people aren’t calling for this at all.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University