Friday, May 28, 2010

IPPR Report issues timely warning to Unionists.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have today issued a new study of devolution; this from Guy Lodge, the IPPR's Assistant Director, is the part of the conclusion grabbing the headlines:
"The new prime minister has gone out of his way in his early days in office to give a reassuring message to the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through his ‘respect’ agenda. But there’s no getting away from the fact that the Conservative mandate in Scotland in particular is extremely weak. At the same time, grant funding to the devolved nations will have to be cut as part of the deficit reduction programme. Holding off cuts to the block grant until 2011/12 might help David Cameron to win friends in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but it risks a backlash from England – particularly those poorer areas which already look jealously at the funding those parts of the UK receive."
There is a tendency on the part of Unionists, specifically in Northern Ireland but also in the two other devolved parts of the United Kingdom to see the economic struggle ahead on a purely localised basis. They shouldn't. The financial resources of the United Kingdom are finite and when one part of the nation receives preference, another automatically must suffer. For those who wish to destroy the Union this is good news as effectively they can't lose - if their region receives unfair preference, resentment in the rest of the United Kingdom will increase; if their region gets hit with its share of cuts, then the populist "English Tory butchers" card can be played. For those who claim to be Unionist, there is no such luxury of choice, a much more involved calculation should be coming into play. It is essential that they take into consideration the effects on the rest of the UK when they make their demands from the Central Exchequer. No part of the Union exists in isolation.

The IPPR report can be read here.
Press reaction here and here.

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