Saturday, March 15, 2014

The British center-left, decidedly federalist

Two of the most prestigious leaders of the UK's center-left have recently clarified their decidedly federalist positions. Former British Labour leader and Scottish Member of Parliament Gordon Brown proposed six changes that clearly go into a federalist direction:
  • A new UK constitutional law to set out the purpose of the UK as pooling and sharing resources for the defence, security and well-being of the citizens of all four nations
  • A constitutional guarantee of the permanence of the Scottish Parliament
  • A new division of powers between Scotland and Westminster that gives Holyrood more powers in employment, health, transport and economic regeneration
  • A new tax sharing agreement that balances the commitment of the UK to pool and share its resources with the need for accountability to the electors in all the places where money is spent
  • New power-sharing partnerships to address shared problems on poverty, unemployment, housing need and the environment
  • A "radical" transfer of powers downwards from Westminster and Edinburgh to local communities
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, under the leadership of the former UK leader the Scottish Menzies Campbell have published Federalism: the best future for Scotland. This report concludes that the opportunity for federalism in the UK would be ended permanently by a Yes vote.
There is broad consensus around two points:
-The Scottish Parliament should raise most of what it spends.
-The Scottish Parliament should be permanently entrenched.
There is the opportunity to move quickly after a No vote because the Scottish public will have been engaged in the referendum debate.
The Queen's Speech of 2015 should be the vehicle used. Party manifestos for the 2015 UK election should contain commitments to the two areas of consensus. The details of the consensus should be agreed through a short‐life gathering facilitated bythe Secretary of State for Scotland in October 2014. The political parties in Scotland that are committed to change should consider signing a Glasgow Agreement to demonstrate that commitment. The people of Scotland can take confidence in the delivery of real change in Scotland from 1997 to 2014.

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