The recent controversy over the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has exposed a new dimension to the West Lothian question, and illustrates the continuing contradictions between the unitary and devolved elements of the UK's political structure. Is the eventual formation of a devolved English Parliament now inevitable? If not, how should the West Lothian question be dealt with?I found this sentence quite an extraordinairy thing to say:
Across Europe, there is a growing trend of regional breakdown, almost a fracturing of nations. In Belgium, for example, the tension between the Walloons and the Flemish threatens to rip that country apart, leaving Brussels, the heart of Europe, potentially state-less.
I am a strong believer in the United Kingdom and think of myself as British, rather than English. We were right to pursue devolution, but I am disappointed that devolution is not reflected properly in the Labour Party’s own internal structures, for example in the electoral college to elect the new Leader. We need to complete that journey first before embarking on a new one.
"I am a strong believer in the United Kingdom and think of myself as British, rather than English."
I was trying to imagine either Annabel Goldie or, for example, Tom Elliott remarking:
"I am a strong believer in the United Kingdom and think of myself as British, rather than a Scotswoman/Ulsterman"
Just wouldn't happen. So, does that make Burnham's Unionism or Britishness more worthy than theirs? Of course not. However, there does seem to be a fear amongst English Unionists of declaring:
"I am proud to be British and English"
On countless occasions, I have criticised the "Little Ulster" mentality which exists amongst a section of Northern Irish Unionism as I believe it ignores the fact that Unionism, by its very definition, means not existing in her own little semi-detached vacuum, but instead wishing to belong to the wider British family. Burnham's attitude is the opposite to that mentality but still as potentially dangerous to the Union.