Monday, 30 May 2011

Yes, it's time to change UKIP's devolution policy

UKIP member, Chris Palmer, is calling for a change of UKIP policy on devolution over at Independence Home.

Chris favours a federal UK with all four home nations having equal powers to each other and a unicameral federal British government for reserved matters.  Like most supporters of an devolution, Chris believes that support for devolution amongst the electorate means it is now impossible to return to direct British rule and that extending and equalising devolution across all four home nations is the only way to protect the union.

To be honest, I can't really fault what Chris says other than the suggestion that London should be governed separately from the rest of England.  For me, the idea that England's capital should effectively secede from England is just not acceptable.  Some people might point to Washington DC as a precedent but it's not the same situation.  Washington is the capital of the United States, not one of the states.  Washington isn't even in one of the states, the District of Columbia is administered by the federal government directly with only a city council between residents and Congress.

I digress.  Like I said, I can't really fault what Chris says but there is a problem with the idea of a federal British government and the idea of a federal court.  The English constitution says that no parliament can bind its successor - that means a British federation could be dismantled by the British government and they could overrule a constitutional court because an Act of the British Parliament creating either of them could be repealed by the British Parliament at any time.  The constitutional court might rule it unlawful but the Parliament makes laws, not courts.

Don't get me wrong, I am 100% committed to the creation of an English Parliament but I don't want one constitutional abomination to be replaced with another one.  I don't want a devolution settlement dictated by the British government and that can be abolished on a whim by this or any future British government.  That's why I favour a British confederation rather than a federation.

But regardless of personal preferences on the form that devolution and the evolution of the union should take, it is immensely reassuring to see so many UKIPpers these days pulling apart David Campbell Bannerman's ridiculous Grand Committee policy and advocating a common sense policy of supporting devolution for all four home nations.  It's a common sense policy, it's a vote-winning policy and it's the right policy.  It's what the policy committee proposed before they were overruled by DCB.  It's what most of the voting public wants.  Screw what the backward Big Britishers who oppose devolution say, we won't win elections by ignoring what voters want!

Just one final comment on Chris Palmer's article: we won't attract thousands of members from the English Democrats by adopting the right devolution policy because they don't have thousands of members to lose and there are so many ex-BNP members in the party.  But we would mop up most of their membership who only support them because they're the only party that advocates an English Parliament and the voters who vote for them for the same reason.  We might even be able to plunder the SNP- and Plaid-voting masses in Scotland and Wales who vote for the europhile nationalist parties even though they're eurosceptics because they're the only parties that support greater separation from Westminster.

Pledge your support for the UKIP 1997 Group's call for UKIP to adopt a sensible devolution policy and make the party electable!