By Stephen Bailey.
Thomas ‘Tam’ Dalyell was a Labour politician who, during the debates on devolution in the House of Commons in the mid–late 1970s became synonymous with a very strong opposition to the devolution of power from Westminster to the constituent parts of the U.K. (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).
Dalyell correctly foresaw that the creation of devolved legislatures in these parts of the U.K. would achieve nothing of any real value and simply significantly fuel the separatist nationalist cause, eventually inevitably leading to the complete dissolution of the United Kingdom.
He also foresaw that such constitutional arrangements were intrinsically flawed and would just lead to a constitutional crisis as Westminster and the devolved legislatures clash over who had authority over what and to what degree.
Most famously, he illustrated an example of this with his ‘West Lothian Question’, which highlighted that more than one legislature in any single (unitary) country (the U.K.) would only cause administrative confusion.
He summed up legislative devolution as being:
‘A one – way motorway to independence with no turn-offs or roundabouts.’
Dalyell has been vindicated on all the above views by the events of the last twenty plus years of legislative devolution.
Legislative devolution has enabled the S.N.P. to rise to dominance at Holyrood, displacing Labour and use it as a platform to advance the cause of independence (indeed, Holyrood has and continues to very significantly enhance their ability to pursue independence).
Whilst heading the devolved administration in Scotland (2007 onwards), the S.N.P. hasn’t missed an opportunity to extremely aggressively push independence, despite the fact that the Constitution is a reserved matter, culminating in them persuading David Cameron into agreeing to hold a referendum on independence in 2014.
So much for the insistence by pro–devolutionists during the campaign to set up a Scottish parliament twenty plus years ago that there was ‘no way’ that devolution could be used to break up the U.K. (as it was a supposedly reserved matter for Westminster’s consideration only).
As a direct consequence of this, the U.K. has been thrown into a severe constitutional crisis as the S.N.P. attempts to force Scotland out of the U.K. and cause one clash after another with Westminster in the process, causing so many problems that a constitutional crisis has resulted.
Some people, including a number of Unionists, argue that devolution would work if the S.N.P. weren’t in charge at Holyrood, but this isn’t the case, as they will never give up on pursuing independence and so as long as Holyrood exists and there is a chance that they can get back into power again there they will just eternally pursue the neverendum, pushing for one poll on independence after another until they get the result they want.
The only viable way to stop this endless cycle is to get rid of the mechanism that enables them to do this – legislative devolution (Holyrood).
The same is true of preventing the other nationalists in the devolved parts of the U.K., Plaid Cymru in Wales and I.R.A./ Sinn Fein plus the S.D.L.P. in Northern Ireland from using their devolved legislatures (the Welsh ‘parliament’ and Stormont) as a tool to break up the U.K.
Tam Dalyell has been vindicated on legislative devolution. It is the process of legislative devolution, its mere existence, that has led to the current constitutional crisis faced by the United Kingdom today.
Voting out the S.N.P. can only be a short-term measure to prevent them forcing another referendum to be held in the near future.
The only permanent solution to the S.N.P.’s and the Welsh and Northern Ireland anti-U.K. nationalists’ neverendum is to abolish Holyrood, the Welsh ‘parliament’ and Stormont (and the Greater London Assembly for that matter).
For more from Stephen Bailey please visit: https://ukunionism.wordpress.com/blog-2/
© 2022 Stephen Bailey