March 15, 2015


Ukip would prop up Tories in return for EU referendum before Christmas (Rowena Mason,  15 March 2015, The Guardian)

Ukip would demand an EU referendum before Christmas as the price for doing a deal with the Conservatives to support their spending plans, Nigel Farage has said.

The Ukip leader has previously made it clear he would consider doing a pact with any party that would offer an early referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

He would only have a hope of doing such a deal with a Conservative minority government, because Labour is holding out against an EU referendum unless there is a transfer of powers to Brussels.

Get Ready for Britain's Constitutional Crisis (Clive Crook, 3/15/15, Bloomberg View)

British politics seems to be heading for a constitutional crisis after elections on May 7th. Recent polls suggest the Scottish National Party will take almost all of Scotland's seats at Westminster from Labour. Regardless of whether Labour or the Tories lead a new government, the SNP's support might be needed to pass legislation. A party committed to breaking up the U.K. would be a decisive force in the union's parliament.

Conceivably, the SNP could make a good-faith effort to help a Labour-led government run the U.K. Ideologically, after all, the two parties are well-aligned. But fruitful cooperation is unlikely. The SNP's strategic interest will lie in crippling the Westminster system and making England its ally in the drive for  Scottish independence. The more friction the SNP can cause -- outright paralysis, ideally -- the louder will be the demands in the south for Scotland to go. Division, not good government, serves the SNP cause.

That's why the SNP is also unlikely to do the right thing by recusing itself from voting on English law. That would  surrender its leverage -- as well as making a Labour-SNP coalition largely impotent.

Even if the party did commit to responsible all-U.K. governance, the constitutional impropriety would be outrageous. The longstanding anomaly known as the West Lothian question would assume horrendous proportions. Scotland has its own parliament and a generous measure of home rule. By what right, then, could its members in Westminster take it upon themselves to decide laws affecting England and Wales in the many areas of policy that have already been devolved to Holyrood?

In short, it was wrong to think, as many did, that the SNP's defeat in last year's referendum settled the question of independence. Far from marginalizing the party and its cause, that loss has prompted a remarkable surge of support.

Sovereignty is a classic example of how the conventional wisdom is always wrong.  While the Left anticipated the inexorable rise of transnationalism with glee and the Right with horror, both failed to recognize that the main political force around the globe was centrifugal, not centripital.  It was an understandable mistake for Europeans to make, but not anyone in the Anglosphere.

Posted by at March 15, 2015 7:46 AM

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