By Stephen Bailey.
It is clearly discernible that devolution in London could and is beginning to manifest similar negative effects on the constitutional integrity of the U.K. as legislative devolution is in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The ‘Domino Effect’ can be described as legislative devolution in one part of the U.K. (S.N.P. dominated devolved Scotland mostly) enabling anti–U.K. nationalists (the S.N.P. primarily) to rise to power, ignore reserved limitations on their legislative remit and use their devolved executive to pursue independence / devolution.
This has encouraged nationalists in other devolved parts of the U.K. (Wales and Northern Ireland) and even in England itself, to pursue independence / devolution much more aggressively when they wouldn’t have without this encouragement in a kind of knock on effect like a row of in–line dominoes falling after being pushed over by the previous one, hence ‘Domino Effect’.
These concerns have been further vindicated by the actions of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has ignored the remit of devolution in London to look after the Capital’s local affairs and got involved in matters that are the business of the U.K. Government at Westminster, such as Brexit for example. Khan approached a foreign country, Germany in this case, during negotiations with the E.U. and asked for London to be treated as a separate case from the rest of the U.K. in the post–Brexit arrangements.
Sadiq Khan acting as if he’s the Prime Minister of a sovereign, independent city state of London, whose affairs are totally separate from the rest of the U.K.
If matters follow the same trajectory as Scotland (especially), Wales and Northern Ireland, this tendency to consider London to be somehow different and separate from the U.K. will get worse and this would pose an obvious and present danger to the constitutional integrity of the U.K., as has undeniably been the case in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Legislative devolution of any degree has the substantial inherent danger of developing into an obvious and present danger to the integrity of the Union. This isn’t the case with administrative devolution, something which has clearly shown itself to be the case in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland where the setting up of devolved legislatures (Holyrood, the Welsh ‘parliament’ and Stormont) has simply been seen by nationalists as a tool to progress their independence agenda and not just a sub-national body that only deals with the day-to-day affairs of their part of the U.K., the supposed purpose of devolution, though not the reality in practice.
The Greater London Authority (G.L.A.) and its associated assembly doesn’t fall into the category of legislative devolution, but the mere presence of a devolved assembly still carries the extremely dangerous potential to develop over a period of time into an institution that can act as a focus for separatists in London to use to form a national parliament for an independent city state of London.
That’s not very likely, many, even most, will say. However, there is growing evidence that this is a situation that some people in London are seeking to promote and bring about. It is being increasingly talked about in some spheres in London, albeit in a very limited way and among a tiny group of individuals.
However, before legislative devolution was introduced in some parts of the U.K. in the late 1990s, it was all but never talked about or even mentioned.
It’s clear that legislative devolution in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland has had a domino effect on London and encouraged people there to start thinking ‘if they can do it, we can’.
Added to this, a political party that supports London independence has been created a short time ago. It’s currently submarine in public profile, but the S.N.P. had a very low profile for decades before devolution raised it to power and therefore prominence, giving it a megaphone to push its separatist agenda.
Slowly, but with alarmingly noticeable pace, the idea of London independence is progressing and can no longer just be dismissed as an irrelevance.
Furthermore, looking at history, there have been several examples of city states that have been completely independent of the surrounding political set up they are in, to various degrees of success and viability. Such political entities have usually existed before the surrounding provinces unified to become unitary sovereign countries merging into these new unified countries, but there’s no reason why city states couldn’t re-emerge after the disintegration of previously unified nations.
Why does the U.K. need a separate London assembly? It’s time to scrap the over–mighty mayors.
London has absolutely no need for a separate tier of government distinct from the rest of the U.K. What real purpose does the London Assembly serve? Why does London need to be separated administratively from the rest of the U.K.?
There is no argument for this due to any kind of functional reality. Every function that the Assembly does now can be carried out by other bodies. A separate assembly is not necessary to carry out these functions. Neither is the ‘democratic deficit’ argument valid. Before devolution, London was perfectly well represented by M.P.’s in the Commons. M.P.’s are directly elected by the voters of London in a secret ballot, so there’s no need for a separate assembly on this account either. The G.L.A. is just an unnecessary extra layer of government.
Added to the above, there are several other unwanted side effects of London devolution, the biggest of which is that it accelerates the process of the Balkanization of the U.K. that legislative devolution has introduced as a result of being set up in other parts of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).
It does little to improve the living and working conditions of ordinary Londoners (certainly that couldn’t still be done through other bodies, like local councils, or the House of Commons) and has the extremely unwelcome effect of serving to further fracture the constitutional integrity of a unitary U.K. by encouraging the idea that London is somehow separate from the rest of the country. It is often stated in recent years that ‘Londoners don’t really consider themselves, or their city, to be part of the U.K., they are from a “different country”‘.
It is quite clear that all the introduction of devolution in London has done, encouraged and magnified by the domino effect of legislative devolution in other parts of the U.K., is promote a feeling of separatism among its inhabitants and that this could easily accelerate into something that will threaten the unitary nature of the U.K. Constitution.
A second similarly unwanted side effect of London devolution is that it strongly aids the propagation of cultural–Marxism in both the capital and the U.K.
London has always been a revolutionary minded place with free thinking rebellious people that don’t like being told what to do or think at all, who like to go against the grain of accepted thought and do things their own way. This can be an excellent thing indeed. Free thinking always is. Look at examples like the Reformation. London took to these new ideas as a great liberty and innovation, whilst many in the British Isles didn’t.
However, not all innovations are positive, and one such example of this is the introduction of an elected London Mayor. What’s wrong with that? On the surface, nothing. A closer look reveals that the office of Mayor has simply been used as a conduit for certain far–left ideologies to push their cultural–Marxist agenda.
This is most strikingly true with the current incumbent, Sadiq Khan. He has used his position to advance a multitude of left–liberal agendas.
Practical experience of the last twenty years of devolution in London has revealed that the Mayoralty has simply been employed by people like Khan and others (such as Ken Livingstone, for example) as a medium for the propagation and advancement of the holder’s agenda. As London tends to be of a left–wing inclination, this invariably means London is controlled by cultural–Marxist ideologues intent upon thrusting their agenda forward. The Mayoralty provides such people with the perfect pre-packaged opportunity to pursue their ends all wrapped up in one office and which effects all of London.
Another critical argument against London devolution is that it’s just a completely unnecessary extra tier of government.
A whole separate assembly just to deal with London’s local government is not needed. As is the case with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is not necessary to have a separate executive to deal with purely local matters (i.e. London’s in this case) in order to keep power over purely local affairs in the hands of Londoners.
The solution (as with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) is administrative devolution. London has a type of devolution in which it has its assembly, ironically centralising power over all the constituent parts of London in one place and therefore being what it claims to be trying to prevent the House of Commons doing, a body that takes power over local affairs away from the constituent parts of London (an irony that applies to Holyrood, Scotland’s devolved executive, as well) and which can decide on certain defined policy areas – it’s devolved remit.
However, under ADMINISTRATIVE devolution power relevant to local (i.e. purely relating to London) governance would be devolved to local bodies (like councils), organisations and individuals.
This way democracy and power is kept localised, close to the electorate of the parts of London concerned and there is no interference from outside parties in London’s purely local affairs. There is no assembly. This means that the creeping Balkanisation of the U.K. that legislative devolution has introduced, with the constituent parts of the U.K. drifting apart on a path of separatism, is halted and the concept of localism is fully served.
It’s time for a re-think on London’s constitutional arrangements. It’s clear that the current situation is undesirable and reform is needed.
Apathy is not an option. There is a need to act now to rectify this situation before it’s too late. There mustn’t be any fear or reluctance to advocate this kind of reform even though there will be a chorus of execration from those on the liberal–left.
It would be a dereliction of responsibility for those that want to maintain the Union to overlook the ominous latent potential for certain groups in London and other parts of England such as Yorkshire and Cornwall.
In Yorkshire separatists have founded a political party that advocates independence for the county from the U.K. and in Cornwall, a separatist party – Mebyon Kernow – has, since the late 1990s and the introduction of legislative devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, been increasingly active and bellicose in their advocacy of a ‘national’ assembly for that part of the U.K.
They want to go down the path of the S.N.P. / Plaid Cymru plus I.R.A. / Sinn Fein and push London down a road leading to her becoming an independent city state.
Legislative devolution’s domino effect of encouraging the fragmentation of the U.K. has to be countered by those that want to maintain the Union.
We mustn’t be complacent or apathetic and must recognise threats to the U.K., wherever they come from, no matter how seemingly unlikely they appear on the surface.
For more from Stephen Bailey please visit: https://ukunionism.wordpress.com/blog-2/
© 2021 Stephen Bailey