Magazine article Public Finance

Patriot Games

Magazine article Public Finance

Patriot Games

Article excerpt

Gordon Brown is a Scot who is proud to be British. He believes in British workers for British jobs and is scathing of those who threaten the Union.

We know this because Brown chose constitutional reform as the subject for his maiden speech in Parliament as PM. Nine months on and we have finally seen what he intends to do.

The draft Constitutional Renewal Bill includes proposals on electoral reform, parliamentary approval for war, and strengthening civil service independence. It even abolishes restrictions on the number of days public buildings can fly the Union flag.

Many of these ideas are sensible, although there is some concern that patriotism could give way to jingoism. Is it really necessary, as Lord Goldsmith has proposed, to create a 'Britishness day or to force 18-year-olds to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen?

Brown is also taking a risk by establishing a constitutional commission to examine the powers of the Scottish Parliament and to consider tax-raising measures and financial accountability.

The commission, supported by Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, will not consider independence for Scotland. But it could make farreaching recommendations, including putting an end to the Barnett Formula which has determined spending levels north of the border for the past 30 years. …

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