The current approach to the United Kingdom doesn’t work.
The current approach treats each home nation as an individual, yet this approach leads to everyone pulling the centre in every direction. It leads to infighting, or to one country taking control and dictating to the others how they should be run. Neither result leads to a strong union.
We currently have the Scotland Bill going through Parliament devolving more powers to the Scottish Parliament; Wales passed a referendum giving its citizens the ability to pass primary legislation; and Nick Clegg has set up a commission to address the West Lothian question.
I’m not opposed to more powers being granted to Scotland and Wales, or to the West Lothian question being solved. I am opposed to treating these issues as individual issues and not part of a bigger, more important, question.
The key question is this: How do we govern the United Kingdom in the best interests of the people of the United Kingdom whether they be English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish?
In order to answer that question, we need to come together as a United Kingdom to decide the best system of governance for the UK. How do you balance the interests of the four home nations, I hear you cry? Honestly, I don’t know. I do however think that my insufficient answer, and our collective inability as a country to answer that question of balance, is a great failure of the Union.
If, after 304 years of a Union, we do not know how to balance the interests of everyone in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland (from 1800) and Northern Ireland (from 1922) then clearly we have not been governing in the national interest. And governing in the national interest means balancing the interests of every part of the country.
That’s why I want to see a UK Constitutional Convention, similar to the Scottish Constitutional Convention. The Convention should be a cross-party, cross civic and political society debate about how the UK should be governed. In order to do it properly, everything has to be on the table.
I want to see a UK Claim of Right that states that sovereignty lies with the people of the UK. It is for those people to decide what form of government is best suited to its needs. If we can do this, we can build a United Kingdom that is greater than the sum of its parts.
* Nicola Prigg is a Lib Dem member in Ayr. She blogs at priggy.wordpress.com.