Enough is enough

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We cannot come this close to destroying the United Kingdom again.

I have only one thing in common with David Cameron. Like him I love my country far more than I love my party.

As such the recent Independence vote filled me with dread. The prospect of something as beautiful as the United Kingdom being destroyed without reference to anyone outside Scotland struck me as both cynical and headstrong.

Fortunately this did not happen. The Scots realised that prior to the Union of 1707, England and Scotland were peripheral powers on the world stage behind not just France, and Spain, but even Holland and Sweden.

Yet within 100 years of the union’s creation we controlled the greatest empire the world had ever seen.

British industry, commerce and culture dominated the globe and produced a world view that still resonates today.

This cannot have been a coincidence. Indeed the United Kingdom has appeared so effortless in its accomplishments that it has seemingly been taken for granted.

Yet its success is truly remarkable and possibly even unique.

We only have to look at the numerous other countries that have tried and failed to tie separate peoples together into one nation state, from the Hapsburgs, to more recent failures in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, to realise how seriously we have underestimated the peaceful, constructive, and beneficial constitution we have lived under for the last 300 years.

But if we are not to see it destroyed we need to learn the lessons of the Scottish vote.

It struck me early on that many Scots were voting not for independence from England, but rather independence from a London dominated Westminster and Whitehall elite they felt had little, if any, empathy with their particular problems.

I have to say that with this view I have complete sympathy.

But it is not only Scotland that feels the economic, cultural and financial drain of London, rather, most of the country outside this golden south east triangle.

If the United Kingdom is to survive, Westminster has to devolve more power to its cities and counties and retain control only over issues such as defence which have a national resonance.

I am certainly not advocating new regional assemblies. The public would not countenance a further layer of political bureaucracy.

Rather, allow those structures already in place, like city and county councils, the autonomy to collect, generate and spend income on issues they regard as important to local people.

The Scottish referendum has strangely united most of the country in a way no- one could have foreseen two months ago.

Whether Scottish, Welsh, Ulsterman or English, most of us love the union and we are now equally united in saying enough is enough to remote rule from a dominant and stifling capital city.