This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, September 22, 2014:
Thanks to the Scottish independence referendum last week, a new word has entered the political lexicon: devolution. The day after the election, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged the immediate formation of a cabinet level committee to study exactly how much power the UK will “devolve” to Scotland. He doubled-down by saying that that devolution should also apply to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well:
Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs….
The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved, and enhanced….
So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement, fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is on board with this devolution:
We know our country needs to change in the way it is governed and we know our country needs change in who it is governed for. We will deliver on stronger powers for a stronger Scottish Parliament, a strong Scotland.
We will also meet the desire for change across England, across Wales, across the whole of the United Kingdom.
In case anyone missed the point, Nick Clegg, Cameron’s Deputy Prime Minister, said the Scottish vote “marks not only a new chapter for Scotland within the UK, but also wider constitutional reform across the union. We must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland” (emphasis added)
Devolution may be considered to be the exact opposite of “centralization,” the coalescing of political power that has plagued freedom for eons. It is, according to the dictionary, “a statutory granting of powers from a central government of a sovereign state to another subnational government, such as a regional, state, or local government.” It is one step away from federalism, which is characterized by constitutional grants of power from sovereign citizens to various governments, but it is also one full step away from the imminent totalitarianism threatening the United Kingdom. Cameron’s declaration represented recognition of political reality: sovereign citizens are tired of being pushed around and are demanding more local control of their lives.
Grant the point, this was a political maneuver by Cameron whose government is up for reelection in May. One of the key issues in that campaign will be the pending referendum on withdrawing the UK from the European Union. By placating members of his own Conservative Party by promising to devolve powers to local jurisdictions such as Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, he greatly enhances his chances to remain as PM and then press successfully his plan for withdrawing from the European Union.
In all, this political fallout from last week’s election is a victory for freedom.
Other freedom movements are, no doubt, watching events in Britain with great interest. For example, Catalan separatists in Spain are holding their own vote for independence on November 9, with observers predicting an overwhelming vote in favor of separation. At present, polls show that voters support independence there by at least 2 to 1. Naturally, Spain is holding that that referendum, no matter how it turns out, will be invalid. Spain’s Constitutional Court has declared that Catalonia is a ”nation,” but only in a historical or cultural context without legal weight, and that Catalonia must remain part of Spain.
There’s the Flemish movement in Belgium, which got a big boost last May when Flemish separatist parties increased their influence so much that Belgium was forced to the table to work out a compromise. Flemish separatists will have the opportunity to express their views on whatever compromise comes out of those talks in the next elections.
There’s Basque Country, Spain, which sits on the border between France and Spain. For years it has operated its own police force and manages its own public finances without much interference from either country. However, increased meddling by the Spanish government and its regional deputy governors has raised the hackles of separatists there. At the moment, 60% of those polled support holding a referendum on its independence, which, if held, would pass handily.
And then there is Sardinia, the island off the coast of Italy, where three separatist political parties have been gaining significant influence and whose leaders are now demanding the right to self-determination by asking either for more autonomy from Italy or for complete independence. Latest polls there show about 40% of the local population favoring independence.
As Patrick Buchanan put it: “Secessionism is ablaze all over the world!” As its flames reach higher, it will increasingly be characterized by the newest word in the political lexicon: devolution.
The Wall Street Journal: Cameron Pledges to Devolve Powers Across U.K. After Scottish Vote
The Wall Street Journal: Scotland Seeks to Restore Harmony After Independence Vote Divides Nation
The New American: Last-Minute Bribe Keeps Scotland in the United Kingdom