Former First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – a role that hasn’t existed in England for over three centuries – have suggested that the UK should be federalised to save the British union.
Lord McConnell , Carwyn Jones and Lord Trimble have written a letter in the Telegraph calling for a new Act of Union and constitutional settlement which would include a devolved English Parliament.
An English Parliament is long overdue. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had devolved government for over two decades. Scotland has had two devolution and one independence referenda since 1979, Wales has had three devolution referenda since 1979 and Northern Ireland has had two devolution referenda. There has never been a referendum on English devolution, only for regional government. Londoners voted for their own regional assembly whilst voters in the north east of England voted against having one there and that is as far as the British have been prepared to go.
A federal union would be a good starting point but it doesn’t go far enough. England needs its independence, not to be controlled at arms length by the British. A confederation is a much preferable alternative to federalism where each member state of the UK gains its independence and devolves power to a central government, flipping federalism on its head. A union by consent would be much stronger than a union by force.
The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) covering Shropshire has plans to downgrade the accident and emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and operate just one A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
When the CCG carried out its statutory consultation on what it optimistically calls “Future Fit” it didn’t just consult residents in Shropshire but included those in Mid Wales who fall within the catchment area of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Unsurprisingly, people in Mid Wales supported the plan to centralise the A&E service at Shrewsbury.
Health is a devolved matter, the NHS is Wales is the responsibility of the Welsh government. The Welsh government receives more money per head of population in public funding than the British government spends in England. Last year the British government spent £8,989 per person on public services in the West Midlands. In Wales it was £10,397 per person. That’s a £1,408 premium for every man, woman and child in Wales subsidised by the English taxpayer.
Lucy Allan has said that too much importance has been given to what the Welsh thought about the plans at Telford’s expense. I agree wholeheartedly. People in Wales shouldn’t have had any say whatsoever on the plans for Shropshire’s hospitals. I didn’t expect to have a say on the plans for the Newtown bypass even though I used it every summer because I don’t live in Powys. People in Powys shouldn’t expect to have a say on the plans for our hospitals in Shropshire just because they use one of them.
One of Montgomeryshire’s AMs has expressed his delight that Shropshire’s single site A&E is going to be close to Wales, as has the British Secretary of State for Wales. They’re happy because a town with a larger population than the whole of Powys and which will soon have a larger population than Powys and Ceredigion combined is losing the A&E its residents pay for because it suits people in Powys and Ceredigion who don’t.
The question is, would this have happened if we had an English Parliament? My answer is that the chances of it happening would be infinitesimally small. An English government directly elected by people in England to represent English interests alone would have been unlikely to allow the downgrade of a hospital in England to mitigate the Welsh government’s underfunding of the Welsh NHS. An English Secretary of State wouldn’t “fully back” plans to close an A&E in England because it makes it easier to service people living in Wales to the detriment of people in England. It is because England is still under direct rule of the British government that these things are allowed to happen in England and it because these things keep on happening that we need an English Parliament, Executive and First Minister to represent English interests.
And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England’s mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England’s pleasant pastures seen? And did the countenance divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here Among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire! Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold! Bring me my chariots of fire! I will not cease from mental fight; Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant land.
Back in 2004 I started a blog called Wonko’s World so I could get some things off my chest. I was increasingly angry about how England was mistreated by the British and wanted everyone to know about it.
On the whole it was a successful endeavour. With likeminded political bloggers we made an English Parliament, St George’s Day, the Barnett Formula, the West Lothian Question and English identity in general. news.
Labour’s use of MPs elected in Scotland to pass legislation like university tuition fees that only affected England and then the imposition of a British prime minister elected in Scotland with no democratic mandate for three quarters of Westminster business helped to highlight why Britain doesn’t work for England.
Over the years I’ve been a director of the Campaign for an English Parliament, been mentioned in a book, won a couple of awards for political blogging, been on TV a couple of times, been on the radio more times than I care to remember, been in newspapers all over the world and for a time was on the BBC’s list of people to talk to about English devolution.
For a long time I was part of a blogging collective called the Witanagemot Club. The Witan was an embryonic English parliament that came into being as English kings started to lose their absolute control over the country. All the members of the Witanagemot Club wrote about English politics and the need for an English parliament, either devolved or independent. That group was hugely important in driving forward the campaign (small “c”) for an English Parliament.
For a variety of reasons the momentum has been lost in recent years and England is suffering as a result. The balkanisation of England has continued apace and the British government is giving away an ever increasing amount of English taxes to Scotland and Wales whilst services are cut to the bone in England through lack of money.
It’s time the people of England were reminded what’s being done to them.