Yesterday, former Liberal Democrat Leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, raised an issue For Argyll has long made a focus for political change: the discrimination against England resulting from the UK’s incomplete devolution.
Alone amongst the four home nations, England has no devolved powers enabling it to exert some control over its own affairs. None of the other three nations would have tolerated this situation for one minute – but the pragmatic and stoical English have just carried on trucking where the celtic and viking fringes would have gone into battle.
Ming Campbell makes it clear that he anticipates that every political party or party group in Scotland will support plans to devolve more powers to Scotland following the probable 2014 vote in favour of retaining the United Kingdom.
But he is saying that he also expects this development to produce a powerful call for a devolved parliament for England.
In simple justice and in the creation of equality of opportunity, this has to happen.
There will also be no proper union until all four home nations have authorities over themselves and share responsibility for the common core.
That is the basis for new and constructive relationships.
At the moment England is at the same time a political chimaera and the economic engine of the UK, through its south east.
The introduction of English devolution will make imperative a radical revision of the Houses of Parliament, with different and more tightly focused roles for each house.
This will require far fewer MPs at Westminster, as the devolved partners in the Union carry increased responsibility for themselves and where England finds itself in this position for the first time.
As we have repeatedly pointed out, it has been persistently shaming that a Scotland keen to make its own voice heard in demanding authority has been completely disengaged from drawing attention to and calling for change to the indefensible discrimination against England.
This silence has only served to support the inference that Scottish separatism is centrally driven by blind Anglophobia. If it were a grown-up political philosophy, Scotland would have been sympathetic to England’s position and offering collegiate solidarity.
There is a major advantage for Scotland itself in the omission being remedied, seeing a devolved parliament for England and a refocused and very much slimmer Houses of Parliament.
We would see the repatriation of substantially more capable political representatives from across the spectrum than the mediocre parochials with which, largely, Holyrood is currently lamed.
Every aspect of this is a fascinating, productive, challenging and complex issue with profound ramifications in change for the better.
This is a genuine subject for objective debate on political philosophy and management, to be engaged in universally and beyond party politics.
In response to Sir Ming’s raising of it, an SNP spokesperson said:
‘An independent Scotland means we will always get the government we vote for and will not have to put up with deeply unpopular Tory governments propped up by Menzies Campbell and his Lib Dem colleagues.’
Suddenly the horizon shrinks to the tedious predictability of the parish pump.
Ming Campbell’s initial intervention had made no mention of party politics in any vein.