Has devolution strengthened the union?
In my previous post I included a quote from the dishonourable John Prescott (philanderer, trustafarian, thug, champagne socialist and, unfortunately, MP). It went like this:
"Devolution has strengthened Britain because it has allowed the different parts of the UK to give expression to their diversity whilst celebrating the values that bind us together as a nation."
But has devolution really strengthened the Union? The Government go to great pains to tell us that it has.
Foreword by the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair:
The question is: is the UK stronger as a result of devolution or not? I think it is stronger, because people in Scotland say: 'Oh we have our parliament now, that is a fair settlement.' You will get the Tories and parts of the rightwing press trying to stoke up English nationalism, but my point to the English is we are 85% of the UK, we are the majority, we vote through the spending for Scotland and Wales. It is a fair settlement to have a Scottish parliament and my answer to English nationalism is the same as my answer to Scottish nationalism: it is foolish, and wrong and backward looking, and we can modernise the UK for today's world. But the fact that they take different positions on different issues is not a problem. --- Guardian; Friday September 24, 1999
"Our proposals have been designed to preserve the Union, the sovereignty of Parliament and the separation of powers." - Lord Irvine of Lairg The Lord Chancellor, Opening Address to the Conference on Constitutional Reform in the UK, 17 January 1998
"I feel that devolution has strengthened the UK." - Alistair Campbell, Sunday Herald, 22 February 2004
"Devolution has strengthened the UK, preserving the union on the basis of a fairer partnership." - 2001 Labour Party Manifesto
"Devolution has strengthened Britain because it has allowed the different parts of the UK to give expression to their diversity whilst celebrating the values that bind us together as a nation." - Tony Blair, Foreword to Your Region,Your Choice, May 2002
"Empowering our regions does not mean the break-up of England, just as devolution has not meant the break-up of the UK. It makes our nation stronger and more dynamic." - John Prescott, Foreword to Your Region,Your Choice, May 2002
"Devolution has strengthened the United Kingdom, not weakened it, as opponents once claimed." - Peter Hain, Better Governance for Wales, June 2005
"It is increasingly clear that devolution has strengthened the United Kingdom." - Tony Blair, Hansard, 29 November 2000
"Devolution has created a system which better responds to and reflects the needs of the people and I believe that strengthens the United Kingdom." - Rhodri Morgan, address to the Oxford Union, 13 March 2003
"Devolution has strengthened that democracy, giving Scotland a fresh voice within the United Kingdom." - Jack McConnell, Speech at the Union of the Crowns Dinner, 01 July 2003
"devolution has strengthened their [the Welsh, Scots and Irish] sense of identity so we can now assert Englishness without in any way damaging Britain." - David Blunkett, The Telegraph, 15 March 2005
"Then devolution to Scotland and Wales was a threat to the United Kingdom. Today devolution has weakened the separatists and strengthened the United Kingdom. Then childcare was at the bottom of the political priority list." - Alan Milburn, Speech to the Fabian Society, 17 Jan 2005
It's tempting to think that such a fine upstanding body of men could only ever be correct but sometimes, just sometimes, politicians don't always tell the full story.
So, has devolution strengthened the United Kingdom? Let me know what you think: