Another much-needed wake up call to the United Kingdom’s Unionist majority.
It has been the overwhelming impression of honest observers of the effects of legislative devolution that over the last twenty years the UK has been subject to a prolonged, creeping and covert campaign by anti-British elements to destroy it. This campaign consists of a barrage of deceit and half-truths.The worrying thing is that it has gone some way towards achieving it's goals.
The Anti-British Revolution(as it should be christened) has succeeded the most in Scotland. Here the SNP have displaced the Unionist Labour party as the main power in the land and have proceeded to pursue their mad plans to force through independence against the manifest will of the majority of the population(remember the fifty=five per cent 'no' to independence in the 2014 referendum). They've flagrantly ignored the terms of the original devolution acts and interfered in constitutional matters and foreign affairs,both of which they are explicitly forbidden to do. It's quite clear to any reasonable observer that devolution is not 'autonomy in the UK' as was touted by Blair at the beginning of devolution, but a slow, inexorable process of going towards independence. It is also perfectly clear that independence was the intended result of devolution all along, not just autonomy
Wales is a slightly different case. Whilst recent years has seen an increasing demand from Plaid Cymru for independence, this call has been much more muted. The danger of independence in Wales is still there but is considerably less than in Scotland.
Now let's turn to the important topic in this post-Northern Ireland.After several decades of stalwart Ulster politicians like Ian Paisley, Airey Neave, Ian Gow and David Trimble (et al) solidly and diligently maintaining the Union against the assaults of both nationalist terrorism and ideological assault from various sources that hankered after re-unification with the Republic (against the overwhelming desire for Union with Britain by the vast majority) there came the great collapse of the mid 1990's.
In the period from roughly the mid 90's to the present the Province has witnessed an on-going agenda of de-Unification. This consists of the gradual removal of British symbols from public display in Northern Ireland, like Union Flags and oaths to the Queen at certain universities (as a sop to nationalists) as part of a wider assault on British culture in Northern Ireland. This campaign goes hand in hand with a simultaneous effort to slowly push NI out of the Union and into the arms of the Republic, against the will of the majority. In NI too, devolution is not about autonomy within the UK but an insidious, covert (and sometimes even overt) scheme by those that hate Britain (IE the Irish, some Americans and even elements in Britain itself) to disband the UK.
Once again, the so-called 'peace process' is in trouble in Ulster. From the beginning,the story of legislative devolution in the Province has been a sorry one of failure and instability.
Whilst peace was completely laudable in theory, the practice of legislative devolution has never lived up to its promise. Apart from the odious fact that decent Unionists have been forced to share power with terrorists who obviously have never really given up their terrorist and republican beliefs, it has more or less completely failed to deliver stable good government for Ulster. Recently it hasn’t even been able to provide an actual administration.
The Province has lurched from one political crisis to another,never really working properly.When this is pointed out, it's proponents,who are ideologues blind to its defects,simply bleat 'make it work' and yet another haphazard coalition government is sworn in only for it to fail shortly after and Ulster is back to square one. Out of the last twenty years of legislative devolution, devolved arrangements have broken down and direct rule been reverted to for a total of five years, if you add up all the periods of break down in Stormont administration together. Hardly inspires confidence in Stormont, does it?
The whole 'peace process' has been propelled along by the interference of the strongly pro-republican Americans,especially Bill Clinton, who cynically used it as a vehicle to garner popularity with the American Irish vote. The British Government's role in this has been a sorry story of selling out the best interests of the majority Unionist population and lack of moral backbone in standing up to American bullying over the issue. Added to this, certain anti-British elements in the British government have connived to manipulate the natural desire for peace to their own ends, with the result that the Good Friday Agreement that followed was grossly skewed in favour of the minority nationalist population. The Americans helped them in this endeavour.
The lamentable narrative of the effects of legislative devolution in Northern Ireland is: Irrefutable proof that legislative devolution has completely failed.
Recent events in the Province of Ulster have finally proved the case against legislative devolution.Even in its Ulster heartlands, the Union has been severely undermined by the introduction of legislative devolution. People who can remember even fifteen to twenty years ago will find it completely incredible that such events have come about in the Province. Ulster has gone from being a rock-solid Unionist bastion to being on the verge of being overrun by the forces of nationalism in under 20 years of legislative devolution being introduced.
How has this come about? The major factor has been that legislative devolution has allowed previously fringe nationalist extremists like the IRA, the SNP and Plaid Cymru to rise to power,something that wouldn't have happened before its introduction. Minor factors include a greater nationalist birth rate (in Northern Ireland) and a greater success at indoctrinating their young with their values so they will vote for them by the nationalists.
There is no viable, practical solution to this except the complete abolition of legislative devolution. The last twenty years have proved that just tinkering with the devolution 'settlement and the so-called 'peace process' and trying to 'make it work' have failed to cure the problems. A radical solution is needed. Replacing legislative with administrative devolution is by far the most likely to produce a durable settlement. This would keep power localised in the constituent parts of the U.K. and guarantee the Union.
The Northern Irish devolved executive, Stormont, is a complete failure and should be got rid of and a thoroughgoing system of de-centralisation by administrative devolution introduced.
It's quite clear that legislative devolution has failed in Northern Ireland and across the other two parts of the UK into which it has been introduced. It has turned Northern Ireland (and also Scotland and Wales) into an unstable mess, with one useless coalition government after another stumbling along incompetently before falling.
We are sleepwalking towards the de-unification of the U.K. We all need to wake up and fight back. Legislative devolution has enabled modern aggressive nationalism, as personified by the SNP, to rise to power, ignore its devolved remit and endanger the unitary nature of the UK by aggressively pushing for independence referenda. What's needed is robust counter argument against this anti-British agenda for the scrapping of legislative devolution and its replacement with its administrative variant. The alternative is to lose the Union, which none of us wants.
© Stephen Bailey 2018.