The real blair legacy – “one uphold kicking,” he says morosely – grows clearer through the mists. much less than three weeks from now, the maker of New hunting will make public his expiration date after a scottish election that anoints the hated Nats as first party of government and his reviled enemy, Alex Salmond, as first minister. Tony Blair will believe wriggled and voyaged north repeatedly to avoid this fate – Bannockburn supplanting Baghdad as his final guerre du jour – but the odds against are simply too high. therefore he bequeaths Downing road to a Scottish successor who will be dogged every step of the next three years through questions of independence, classy or unreasonable money subsidies and general Holyrood angst. It is a poisonous inheritance.
And yet veritable is still not seen clearly: as two distinct problems, not only. The first, underlying, challenge of Scottish nationhood naturally dominates most headlines also nearly all political thought. How might it reproduce clashing? The dismemberment of the United Kingdom is a visceral, passion-primed issue; but, for true desperation, enter the what for that an English Westminster, stripped of its Scottish Labour lobby fodder, may be Tory-Tory-Hallelujah forever. here is why curative devolution took priority, post-1997. Here is why labour wants the independence rot stopped at any cost.
But whence – separately also ironically – there is problem number two: the problem of this specific devolution package delivered in this particular way. Why are the Nats leading in pre-May 3 polls? Not because Scotland wants overwhelmingly to express “free”. diacritic a suburb of the electorate feel much enthusiasm there. No. scottish voters are just cheesed rub out after two terms of Lab-Lib coalition politics introduced by a quite grey administration further overshadowed from afar by Iraq, Trident further similar extra-territorial subjection. They are bored and promiscuous.
Ask whether they want to keep on taking the same historic pills and they opt through something different. But the Lib Dems are still too regional to embody more than a supporting act – and the Tories only pursue courtesy of an election system that rewards their failure. So, if you want a shift, it’s Salmond or nothing. His Nationalists have some bright people and wonderfully alluring spending policies on instrument. They plug matter Scotland’s traditional left leanings. They are the obvious (indeed, singular practical) Holyrood alternative on offer. Democracy means an opportunity due to peaceful modify. Why grow so afraid about it?
Because here the two problems swill notice one. Labour gave Scotland a hybrid electoral system (superlative beyond the post, with top-ups from party lists) consequently that, short of an earthquake, the Nats would never have an overall majority and unfettered direction for independence. Instead, there’d be everlasting Lab-Lib coalitions, happily re-elected because Scotland seemed solid ground for labour allegiances. It was a PR fix. Unfortunately, though, this fix doesn’t seem fit for purpose.
Holyrood is just divergent enough from Westminster to maturate restless. It registers and reacts to the unpopularity of Blair, but it also wants to deliver its own thing. Salmond, for the sake of a change of furniture, is that thing. Anxious politicians may toss around independence on the agenda again in three years’ time as Salmond calls the referendum that defines his strategy, but voters deem a much narrower time scale. They want labour kicked bag capital opposition owing to. They decline to play the “what if” life around 2010.
But meanwhile the other three big parties are all hooked on problem one. They cannot get past thinking about “saving the union”. Even the Lib Dems won’t join the Nats if that means embracing a referendum. hence predict stalemate, bitterness and a growing resentment, pushing independence further up the time table. It commit be a terrible mess, because the apostles of PR (on a European scale) won’t show the leading compromise stunt of coalition-building.
Is there an answer for the avoidance of too much chaos? Yes, but for Tories or Lib Dems it will oblige a measure of dauntless. Who could join Salmond in Holyrood government on day alone if he insists on calling a referendum? side party that hands him that referendum at once, immediately – not in three years’ trouble-making situation – any party prepared to take a risk, call a bluff again put the Nats’ central policy centre stage in 2007.
Don’t hang around until 2010 in that years of confected strife. Get the defining issues (subsidy-stripped occasion domination the EU waiting room, voting rights of England-based Scots besides so on) on to the front burner. flirt with how high the fires of independence rise then. Don’t delay, smooth. It’s the only flip for way. Problem separated; problem solved.