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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Clegg missteps on the road to a Federal UK

It is strange to see the leader of a party with a longstanding commitment to a Federal UK start talking about stopping Scottish MPs voting on English matters at Westminster, but that is precisely what Nick Clegg did yesterday.

It is almost as if the Liberal Democrats leader has missed the point, that you cannot sort out Home Rule for Scotland without putting Wales, England and Northern Ireland on the same footing. And yet, from what I know of Nick Clegg that cannot be the case.

Is he deliberately trying to antagonise his allies in the other nations of the UK? Why is he not talking about the need for a constitutional convention and a new Federal settlement for the UK?

Nobody can seriously believe after all that has passed that having a beefed up Scotland within the UK and stopping Scottish MPs voting on devolved matters is going to solve anything. In fact it will make things worse, especially in the Tory heartlands, and could even trigger moves for a Welsh Independence ballot.

If the Coalition Government do proceed to legislate for Scotland in January as Nick Clegg has said, without producing a new settlement for the other nations, then they really will have a revolt on their hands.

It may take a bit longer, but surely it is better to proceed on a consensual basis across the UK and get the constitution right rather than keep playing it by ear and getting it wrong.
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