Politics of Identity Demands a New Reaction from Labour; Veteran MP Wayne David Calls for Labour to Put Forward a Radical Programme of Constitutional Reform at a Time of Growing Patriotism in England and Wales

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

Politics of Identity Demands a New Reaction from Labour; Veteran MP Wayne David Calls for Labour to Put Forward a Radical Programme of Constitutional Reform at a Time of Growing Patriotism in England and Wales


UNTIL quite recently, the United Kingdom was one of the most centralised states in the western world.

The administration of the country was focused on London and the political life of all parts of the United Kingdom was orientated, to a greater or lesser extent, around the capital.

True, at different times steps had been made to recognise "national" sentiments in Wales and Scotland, starting as far back as 1885 when the Scottish Office was established.

But the general pattern in the post-war period was one of ever greater centralisation.

This trend reached its high water mark during the 18 years of Conservative administration from 1979 to 1997 when central government become even more dominant and Conservative secretaries of state, particularly in Wales, behaved like "colonial governors".

Nothing summed up those years better than the image of John Redwood, then Secretary of State for Wales, inanely attempting to mouth the Welsh words of the Welsh National Anthem.

The election of a Labour government in 1997 signalled an overdue change of direction. Soon after Labour's election victory, pre-legislative devolution referendums were held in Scotland and Wales and "Yes" votes secured in both countries.

In Scotland, a parliament was re-established, with wide legislative powers in many domestic policy areas.

In Wales, where the enthusiasm for devolution was weaker, an assembly was created with powers over secondary legislation.

These powers were subsequently enhanced after the successful referendum in May 2011.

Importantly, the Northern Ireland Assembly gave Northern Ireland a formal relationship with the Irish Republic, while maintaining the Union with Britain.

Under the Blair government, devolution was to have been extended to the English regions through the creation of regional assemblies.

But only one referendum was held - in the North-East - and the result was a heavy defeat for the proponents of devolution; the planned rolling programme came to a shuddering halt.

As a consequence of these developments, today the United Kingdom has a structure of asymmetrical devolution in which Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have quite different forms of devolved government, while the largest part of the UK, England, retains a non-devolved system of government.

London of course provides a qualification in that it has a directly-elected mayor and an assembly fulfilling a scrutinising role.

There are in addition now 15 other elected mayors in English towns and cities, although, as with the Mayor of London, they essentially draw powers from local, rather than central, government.

Nevertheless, in the case of London, the mayoralty has created a hugely significant political platform for the incumbent.

These limited changes notwithstanding, one of the paradoxes of the past 15 years is that while unprecedented decision-making has been devolved from London to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, within England, power has tended to gravitate still further to the centre.

Under both Labour and now the coalition, the focus on delivering government-defined targets and objectives has drawn more powers, which were formerly held by local authorities, to the centre.

More than ever before, Britain's unwritten constitution is now a complex mosaic, and it has shown itself to be flexible enough to allow differing pressures and developments to be addressed successfully.

This is certainly the case with regard to devolution.

To date, there has been an impressive versatility which has allowed particular identities and demands to find expression within the parameters of the British state.

The biggest test however will come in the independence referendum in Scotland, expected in 2014.

It is of course far too early to predict what will happen but the early indications are that the Scottish people will vote to maintain the Union. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Politics of Identity Demands a New Reaction from Labour; Veteran MP Wayne David Calls for Labour to Put Forward a Radical Programme of Constitutional Reform at a Time of Growing Patriotism in England and Wales
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.