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Ever Looser Union?. Richard Wyn Jones Canolfan Llywodraethiant Cymru //Wales Governance Centre Prifysgol Caerdydd //Cardiff University. The 3 ¾ constitutional debates…. Scotland, Wales, NI and (increasingly) England NB 18.ix.1997, these debates are linked…

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Ever looser union

Ever Looser Union?

Richard Wyn Jones

CanolfanLlywodraethiantCymru//Wales Governance Centre

PrifysgolCaerdydd//Cardiff University

The 3 constitutional debates
The 3¾ constitutional debates…

  • Scotland, Wales, NI and (increasingly) England

  • NB 18.ix.1997, these debates are linked…

  • Scotland continues to inspire and incite

    • England. Resentment about Scotland very prevalent

    • Wales. Constitutional model + FM commentary

  • But debates have their own dynamics & substantial shifts in attitudes now visible in England and Wales (cf. NI?)

  • Scottish result, of course, significant but direction of travel is almost certainly fixed…



“Wants home rule not independence” Clegg

Can/will the Unionist parties deliver?

  • Calman not promising…making life difficult not granting usable policy autonomy

  • Can they agree?

  • Will the central state be willing to change?

  • Even if all of this is done, would it be enough…the SNP have defined the middle position!

Scotland which level of government should have most influence
Scotland: ‘Which Level of Government should have most influence?’ (%)

Independent scotland status quo power
Independent Scotland = status quo power

  • An independent Scotland would not seek to encourage centrifugal tendencies in rUK/’Little Britain’.

  • Once a nation joins ‘the club’ drawbridge gets hauled up behind it. True even of revolutionary powers, let alone independent Scotland!

  • cf. Free State and Plaid Cymru in 1930s.

  • More generally, if independence inevitable, pragmatic considerations would reign in the international system.

Wales and ever looser union
Wales and ‘ever looser Union’

  • Silk Commission has recommended devolution of tax powers

  • Welsh Government is using the Silk Part 2 to call for extensive further devolution: reserved powers (cf. Scotland Act 1978), policing with criminal justice to follow

  • Separate jurisdiction regarded as inevitable

  • Welsh Tories: devolve broadcasting

  • And public attitudes…

Ever looser union

Wales: ‘Which level of Government should have most influence? 2013 (%)YouGov Feb./Beaufort May/June NB Different question wordings and options

England and its two unions
England and its Two Unions

  • Deep English mistrust of ‘Europe’ only one manifestation of a deeper unease…

  • Euroscepticism is closely linked to ‘devoanxiety’

  • Support for territorial status quo has plunged (20-25%)

  • Want England ‘recognised’ is some form

  • London/BMEs outliers

    • though English NatID stronger than Brit in London

    • BME identify with England as place if not Nat ID

Two key questions for the future
Two key questions for the future 2012)

  • What would a looser union look like constitutionally speaking? Is ‘centre’ willing to change? Jury must be out on that…

  • And what of Northern Ireland? Almost certain that the 2011 census results will show that this is the only part of the UK where British is the plurality NatID. A Britishness, moreover, that few on the larger island understand let alone share