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The pyramid of devolution

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Great powers went to work against the unthinkable possibility of an independent Scotland. It seems, from promises made, that they stopped considering it unthinkable. However, in the aftermath an interesting prospect arises. It seems that England – and clearly not England as a single lump, but England divided into large regions comparable to Scotland or Wales – may be given ‘Devo Max’ too.

What strikes me is that this process is the reverse of what it seems to be. Westminster and the City remain, a single central seat of government, no longer responsible for the internal finances or day-to-day running of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, The North, The Midlands, East Anglia, the South Saxons, the Kingdom of the Cotswolds, the West Saxons and beyond them the West Celts…

Instead, in the grand of tradition of departments in pre-revolutionay France or the English shires before Henry VIII booted out the abbots, each region will become a tax-farm responsible for the oppression of its own peasants and the extraction of dues to be remitted to London. The myth will be that London is the place which creates the wealth, and hands it out to the devolved provinces. The reality will of course be that London is the place which takes the wealth, keeps the lion’s share, and returns substistence rations.

Certainly London will provide defence (an army has many uses), communications and transport while exacting the charges and tolls needed to make every last strand of fibre optic cable, every metre of tarmac or rail, not only pay their way but provide a good profit.

How else, after all, can this end? What David Cameron hints at can only, ultimately, result in Westminster and the City becoming a state in itself. It will have a relationship to the several parts of the United Kingdom rather like the relationship of Brussels to the whole of Europe – an administrative enclave which accrues to itself a hundred thousand salaried sinecures, which governs, regulates and taxes but does not actually make or do anything.

Underneath this pinnacle will be the rest of pyramid, the devolved regions, the counties, cities and boroughs and at the very base supporting the lot will be the people.

What more could Westminster and the City want? What better outcome for the whole of the UK, to be blamed in years to come on the temerity of the Scots to think they could take a parcel of these islands, call it a nation, and govern it without the control of Whitehall and Westminster?

Of course, this is all just uninformed fantasy and speculation. None of this will happen. Wait and see!

– David