Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Labour Party and a better federalism

I am trying to follow closely the UK election campaign through new ways of being in touch with all the channels of that great contribution of the UK to civilization, the BBC. The vote takes place on May 7th. The Labour Party is doing better than expected. The campaign of Ed Milliband seems to be doing well at fighting the Conservative Party. However, the biggest problem for Labour does not come now from the Tories but form the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP). The Scottish secessionists threaten to take almost all seats at stake in Scotland, a land that traditionally had been a stronghold of the Labour Party. The SNP argues that they will support a Labour prime minister and will push for more leftist policies than the ones defended by Milliband. The opportunistic stance of the populist leaders of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, not only detracts from Labour votes in Scotland, but also handles the Conservative Party a last chance gift: the argument that the Labour Party will preside over an unstable government, always at the mercy of a nationalist blackmail. In Catalonia we know about this. The problem of Scotland, together with the threat of an exit of the UK from the EU ("Brexit"), asks for a coherent response form the Labour Party: a clear project for a better federalism. We live in a world of overlapping and divided sovereignties where the nation-state is obsolete. The UK and the EU to which it belongs have already some of the characteristics of federations. Although the word is still taboo in many corners of the islands, the truth is that many of the existing institutions of the UK, Northern and Southern Ireland are already federal in nature, including its membership of the EU. This fact should be accepted, and the Labour Party should join the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party (the decent parties of the UK) in supporting an openly federalist project that gives all the British a stable institutional framework for the future. Progressive intellectuals like Will Hutton and Timothy Garton-Ash have already spoken in these terms and if the leaders of the Labour Party openly endorsed these positions and worked on them, they would not only be favourite in the predictions to have Ed Milliband as prime minister but they could perhaps clearly lead in all the forecasts. The predictions can be followed daily at least in Predictwise, Five Thirty Eight and The Guardian.

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