By Stephen Bailey.
Another much needed wake up call to the United Kingdom’s Unionist majority.
It has been the overwhelming impression of honest observers of the effects of legislative devolution that, over the last twenty years, the U.K. has been subject to a prolonged, creeping and covert campaign by anti-British elements to destroy it.
This campaign consists of a barrage of deceit and half-truths.
The worrying thing is that it has gone some way towards achieving it’s goals.
The Anti-British Revolution (as it should be christened) has succeeded the most in Scotland. Here the S.N.P. displaced the then Unionist Labour party as the main power in the land in 2007 and have proceeded to pursue their mad plans to force through independence against the manifest will of the majority of the population (remember the fifty-five per cent ‘no’ to independence in the 2014 referendum).
They’ve flagrantly ignored the terms of the original devolution acts and interfered in constitutional matters (independence) and foreign affairs (Brexit), both of which they are explicitly forbidden to do by the devolution ‘settlement’.
It’s quite clear to any reasonable observer that devolution is not ‘autonomy within the U.K.’ as was touted by Blair at the beginning of devolution, but a slow, inexorable process of nationalism pushing their part of the U.K. towards independence / re-unification against the will of the majority.
It is also perfectly clear that independence / re-unification was always going to be the result of devolution, not just autonomy within the U.K. as these aims have always been the overriding goal of nationalism.
Wales is a slightly different case. In the years immediately following devolution in the late 1990s / early 2000s, the call for independence existed (mostly from the nationalist Plaid Cymru) but was considerably more muted than in the other devolved regions of the U.K.
However, recent years have witnessed an increasingly bellicose position being adopted by Plaid, encouraged in large part by the actions of the S.N.P. in Scotland of extremely aggressively abusing their devolved assembly as a platform for promoting independence. The danger of independence in Wales is still there and increasing considerably, but is not quote as acute as in Scotland (yet).
Now let’s turn to the central topic in this article – Northern Ireland. After several decades of stalwart Ulster politicians like Ian Paisley, Airey Neave, Ian Gow and David Trimble (et al.) solidly and diligently maintaining the Union against the assaults of both nationalist terrorism and ideological assault from various sources that hankered after re-unification with the Republic (against the overwhelming desire for Union with the rest of the U.K. by the vast majority), there came the great collapse of the mid 1990s.
In the period from roughly the mid-90s to the present, the Province has witnessed an ongoing agenda of ‘dis bundling’ of the Union. This consists of the gradual removal of British symbols from public display in Northern Ireland, like Union Flags and oaths to the Queen at certain universities (as a sop to nationalists) which is part of a wider assault on British culture in Northern Ireland.
This campaign goes hand in hand with a simultaneous effort to slowly push N.I. out of the Union and into the ambit of the Republic, against the will of the majority.
In N.I. too, devolution is not about autonomy within the U.K. but an insidious, covert (and sometimes even overt) scheme by those that hate Britain (i.e. the Irish, some Americans and even elements in Britain itself) to disband the U.K.
Once again, the so called ‘peace process’ is in trouble in Ulster. From the beginning, the story of legislative devolution in the Province has been a sorry one of failure and instability.
Whilst peace was completely laudable in theory, the practice of legislative devolution has never lived up to its promise. Apart from the odious fact that decent Unionists have been forced, through mandatory coalition, to share power with terrorists who obviously have never really given up their terrorist and republican beliefs, it has more or less completely failed to deliver stable, decent government for Ulster. Recently it hasn’t even been able to provide an actual administration.
The Province, under Stormont and the Belfast Agreement, has lurched from one political crisis to another, never really working properly. When this is pointed out, it’s proponents, who are ideologues blind to its defects, simply bleat ‘make it work’ and yet another haphazard coalition government is sworn in only for it to fail shortly after and Ulster is sent back to square one.
Out of the last twenty years of legislative devolution, devolved arrangements have broken down and direct rule been reverted to for a total of five years, if you add up all the periods of break down in Stormont administration together. Hardly inspires confidence in Stormont, does it?
The whole ‘peace process’ has been propelled along by the interference of the strongly pro-nationalist Americans, especially Bill Clinton, who cynically used it as a vehicle to garner popularity with the American Irish vote.
The British Government’s role in this has been a sorry story of selling out the best interests of the majority Unionist population and lack of moral backbone in standing up to American bullying over the issue. Added to this, certain anti-British elements in the U.K. Government have connived to manipulate the natural desire for peace to their own ends, with the result that the Belfast Agreement that followed was grossly skewed in favour of the minority nationalist population. The Americans helped them in this endeavour.
The lamentable narrative of the effects of legislative devolution in Northern Ireland is irrefutable proof that legislative devolution has completely failed.
Recent events in the Province of Ulster have finally proved the case against legislative devolution. Even in its Ulster heartlands, the Union has been severely undermined by the introduction of legislative devolution. People who can remember even fifteen to twenty years ago will find it completely incredible that such events have come about in the Province.
Ulster has gone from being a rock solid Unionist bastion to being on the verge of being overrun by the forces of nationalism in under 20 years of legislative devolution being introduced.
How has this come about? The major factor has been that legislative devolution has allowed previously fringe nationalist extremists like the I.R.A., the S.N.P. and Plaid Cymru to rise to power (or given them considerably more prominence in the public’s eye in Plaid’s case), something that wouldn’t have happened before its introduction.
Minor factors include a greater nationalist birth rate (in Northern Ireland) and a greater success at indoctrinating their young with their values so they will vote for them by the nationalists.
There is no viable, practical solution to this except the complete abolition of legislative devolution. The last twenty years have proved that just tinkering with the devolution ‘settlement’ and the so called ‘peace process’ by trying to ‘make it work’ has failed to cure the problems.
A more radical solution is needed. Replacing legislative with administrative devolution is by far the most likely to produce a durable settlement. This would keep power localised in the constituent parts of the U.K. and guarantee the Union.
The Northern Ireland devolved executive, Stormont, is a complete failure that should be got rid of and a thorough going system of de-centralisation which keeps power over N.I.’s affairs localised in the Province and 100% guarantees the Union (but NOT meaning the reactionary imposition of rule by far away London) with administrative devolution introduced.
It’s quite clear that legislative devolution has failed in Northern Ireland and across the other two parts of the U.K. into which it has been introduced, Scotland and Wales.
It has turned Northern Ireland into an unstable mess, with one useless coalition government after another stumbling along incompetently before falling.
In all three devolved parts of the U.K. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, legislative devolution has de-stabilised the political situation, especially in Scotland (and increasingly so in Wales) and provoked the constitutional crisis we find ourselves in today.
We are sleepwalking towards the de-unification of the U.K.
All Unionists who want to maintain the Union need to wake up and fight back.
Legislative devolution has enabled modern aggressive nationalism, as personified by the S.N.P., I.R.A./ Sinn Fein and to a lesser extent Plaid Cymru, to rise to power, ignore its devolved remit and endanger the unitary nature of the U.K. by aggressively pushing for independence / re-unification.
What’s needed is robust counter argument against this anti-British agenda for the scrapping of legislative devolution and its replacement with its administrative variant. The alternative is to lose the Union, which none of us wants.
For more from Stephen Bailey please visit: https://ukunionism.wordpress.com/blog-2/
© 2021 Stephen Bailey