Home Rule In the UK

In this article, Kenny MacAskill MP, flies an old idea of a Scotland with a degree of independence while still “part of a United Kingdom”, although the ‘Kingdom’ part of the equation would be at non-starter in such a political concoction, and Union’ would be utterly redundant. As MacAskill points out, the proposals is not one he supports, but as it is bandied about now, is worth a debate. The halfway house is not ALBA party policy. Together with Ireland, it was Labour Party policy under Labour’s founder Keir Hardie, but jettisoned quickly when Ireland proved to be seriously problematic, it’s electorate and leaders hyper-distrustful of England’s intentions.

No one has worked out what Home Rule will do to Scotland’s sovereignty, economy, or rights to a foreign policy separate from Westminster’s agenda, an agenda which over the last 300 years means war with some nation or other, near or far for little good and a lot of evil. Indeed, autonomy, real self-governance (the actual meaning of autonomy), has to include the right not to fall in line with the expectations of an aggressive neighbour, should England demand we send them soldiers or dares to recruit in Scotland, the land they discovered has the ‘bravest, most efficient fighters in the empire’.

Be advised, in contemporary Scotland there exists a constituency that would vote for such a model irrespective of how badly it functioned, the people who felt cheated out of a ‘DevoMax’ choice on the referendum ballot paper in 2014. How much respect the bloody-minded imperial mentality of England’s right-wing, their corporate supporters and Ulster confederates, will give to side-by-side self-determination is, of course, another matter. After all, possession is nine-tenths the law, and that includes governing another country.

Put simply: there are more questions than answers written on the false flag of home rule roped to a UK reality, and what answers there are, are usually unpalatable. What Westminster and the right-wing should be doing now is planning for the break-up of the United Kingdom, and offering a solution that keeps each of the nations associated and friendly. Independence is not going away. The more one tries to smother it, the more resilient it becomes.

Independence in the UK

By Kenny MacAskill MP

“Independence in the UK” has yet again been bandied about in political circles. My good friend Henry McLeish has long advocated it and now it’s the former long-serving MEP David Martin who’s articulating it.

Many on both sides of the constitutional divide mock or deride it and it’s not without difficulties, either in delivery or even definition.

Aside from those two stalwarts it does though have a longstanding tradition. The “Red Clydesiders” of the Independent Labour Party expounded it a century ago with both George Buchanan and Rev James Barr lodging Bills in Westminster to achieve it.

Then as now much was left unsaid or unspecified with defence and foreign affairs remaining with the UK but with literally everything else being devolved to a Scottish Parliament. Even those powers were anticipated as evolving at some point as the institution deepened and the world developed.

It’s not my first preference as I remain committed to sovereignty for Scotland, including the right to chose on critical issues of defence and foreign policy. Removal of nuclear weapons and even membership or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or EU membership are restricted, if not precluded by it.

That said we’re at a constitutional impasse in Scotland where not only is the nation deeply divided, as polls continually show, but Scottish politics is stultifying as a result of it. Indyref2 remains the main debate yet has been rejected by Westminster and deferred indefinitely by Holyrood.

Something needs to be done to break the logjam and move the country on, as the weekly cycle of “we demand it”and “you’re not getting it” is doing no-one any good. There’s work to be done and if there’s ever a moment to think outside the box it’s now. If coronavirus recovery is the issue then powers to address it are required and the status quo’s inadequate.

Building a coalition to expand the powers of the Scottish Parliament without breaking the Union must surely be possible. It also has the benefit of allowing proponents of both absolute positions to see it as a basis for either going forward incrementally or entrenching the foundations more firmly.

It’s clear that there’s dissatisfaction in Scotland with the status quo and disinterest in the UK with the issues facing Scotland. Let Scotland get on with addressing those social and economic problems, as Jimmy Maxton once passionately demanded a century ago. It would show willing from Westminster in taking cognisance of Scottish democracy.

For however you interpret the recent election results, Scotland isn’t satisfied with it’s current settlement. On the other side, work on currency, borders and other issues has yet to be done, let alone be agreed.

There’s a template as businessman Ben Thomson has written a very erudite book ”Home Rule” that makes these points. Why shouldn’t Scotland have the powers to address its drug crisis or borrow funds to build the homes it so badly needs?

Surely this is the time to build a coalition for such a proposal, undermining neither independence nor the Union but yet facilitating necessary progress for our land.

Kenny MacAskill is the Alba Party MP for East Lothian


This entry was posted in Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Home Rule In the UK

  1. jim4indy says:

    On this one, I agree with Gareth’s comment: ‘There are more questions than answers with home rule’.

    To take one issue on independence – currency. Much thinking and writing on banking and currency has already been done within the movement, from think tank Common Weal and activist thinkers like Andy Anderson, Ronnie Morrison, and Tim Rideout. We are not starting from a blank slate on any of the issues facing an independent Scotland.

    The Scottish Parliament began in 1999. A new constitutional settlement would push independence back to the 2040’s and you can bet our Unionist friends would want that in writing. The fate of the NHS is in the hands of the UK which controls the funding, even if we are nominally in control. What kind of NHS can we expect to have in 2046 without independence?

    We are in a deadlock but deadlocks can be broken. Keep pushing on. Nothing short of full independence can help us now.

  2. Stuart MacKay says:

    And this would solve what exactly? A member of the Union would need to respect the decisions of the Union. I don’t see how Scotland’s material circumstances would change when every decision at the federal level is dominated by the population of a country that is 10 times larger.

  3. paul botler says:

    Haven’t we been down this road before?

    It started with a kiss (how now, brown vow?) and ended with the Glasgow version (Smith commission).

  4. anandprasad says:

    Playing devil’s advocate here but isn’t what is argued here not very different from wanting the powers returned from the EU to be devolved.
    If there was a poll asking if i wanted more powers for Scotland i would agree.
    If a poll asked me if i wanted devo-max or Home rule i would disagree.
    I guess it depends on what is being excluded not what is being offered.

  5. duncanio says:

    I have a lot of time for Kenny MacAskill but this is a disappointing article.

    How does Alba’s stated aim (from their website) of “National Independence for Scotland as an immediate necessity, and overwhelming priority, achieved by democratic means through a vote of people resident in Scotland” stack up with “to build a coalition … undermining neither independence nor the Union”?

    I hope Kenny MacAskill sends out a correction soon – we don’t need any more disillusionment.

  6. kurikat says:

    I am lost for words in Regard to this post from Kenny. It does not matter how much DEVO MAX they give Scotland, the Nuclear weapons will stay in Scotland, we will still be paying towards new projects in England, WM will object to anything Scotland wants to do for the better, and make new laws to sign us into an even tougher version of the UNION..

    I am so sickened reading this that I think it is time to give up politics for me now, to have wasted 54yrs voting & supporting the SNP to be betrayed in more ways than just one by a weak Fm FEART to try again for fear of losing her career or the world stage lifestyle she has become accustomed to, hence refusing to hold another referendum, but as a female born woman to be treated to constant abuse by a leader of that party just for asking the questions as to WHY she feels it is alright for men to self ID to be able to use women’s safe spaces.. Take over their sports, as well as be sent into a woman’s prison even when their crime was Rape of a woman.

    Then to feel my heart stir once more with the come back of Alex & a new INDY Party that we know (or at least I thought we knew) under his leadership WILL push for INDEPENDENCE & if he ever got near the levers of power again would DEFINITELY hold another referendum..Only to read that an ALBA MP thinks maybe federalism is the only game in town..

    What is it about Scots & this country that we can’t find that so called BRAVEHEART within us, that just tells them to go do one, take back our country & succeed as we know we would. Because the only country heading for a fall is ENGLAND, without Scotlands resources & their Nuclear Weapons parked on our green. With the enemies they have around the world & especially in EU. There is only one way for Scotland to go when free of WM and that is UP. Up & out Into the big wide world. As Winnie Ewing once said “STOP THE WORLD SCOTLAND WANTS TO GET ON” Yet with the nastiest Fm in Government right now, maybe just maybe we should settle for DEVO MAX or federalism so that England can be boosted again by Scots assets . NO BLOODY THANKS. I was so looking forward to the ALBA CONFERENCE in Sept. I don’t see any point in that now or even continuing with a membership. I am sick of the whole lot of sell outs..

  7. helentyates says:

    Good god, just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, there is plenty I could say and argue about with this article by Kenny but to be honest I’m just too sickened to be bothered.
    I honestly thought with Alex being back on the scene that maybe we’d finally get the chance to see Scotland independent. I had vowed never to join another party after the disillusionment with The SNP, I did though join Alba which right at this moment I’m regretting, I’ll now consider whether to cancel my membership and just give up on politics altogether.
    We truly are a lost cause.

  8. Robert McAllan says:

    If Kenny MacAskill does not support the proposition why oh why is he lending his name to this betrayal by stealth of the very principle he purports to uphold?

    This is the kind of nonsense you might expect from Blackford on a slow day in the Commons.

    The politicians he cites, ALL LABOUR, DYED IN THE WOOL UNIONISTS all of whom have sworn their allegiance to the Crown and in so doing have continued to smother the right of Scotland to exist as a Nation State within her own borders.

    I for one did not join ALBA to peddle this reformist tripe. Gordon Brown on steroids is nothing compared to this! NAE WONDER WE ARE AT A CONSTITUTIONAL IMPASSE!

  9. raonni Laine says:

    The idea of home rule is truly disgusting. It can only be supported by political cowards and traitors to Scotland. If Alba even thinks about accepting this halfway house to nowhere it’ll be just as treacherous an organisation as the SNP.

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    MacAskill is definitely NOT advocating Home Rule, only briefing us what is being discussed in the corridors of power.

  11. Grouse Beater says:

    Robert – it’s an old idea that is given new currency of late. (Maybe preparing for a referendum with Home Rule as a third option.) We should be ready to rebutt false freedom as MacAskill does. But there are folk who will opine it’s a big step closer to full independence – then again, that depends on what we sign up to and for how long, to get Home Rule. Based on decades of England’s deceiful politics, I see a honey trap.

  12. Stuart MacKay says:

    Well the wording could have been better but now I’ve had a chance to mull it over it’s not a bad thing to raise. It might even be a sneaky subject to bring up as it re-affirms in my mind that no amount of DEVO-MAX would ever change the fundamentals of any relationship in which one party has overwhelming financial clout over all the rest.

    The reason I want independence is that I think the country can do better not simply do better with the current set of limitations. That’s the essence of what we want. Just a wee bit less shite is simply not good enough.

    That Kenny said this has taken a little bit of the shine of Alba but for me, well this just makes me want independence more. if the politicians can’t deliver then they’ll get left by the wayside.

  13. Angry Weegie says:

    Kenny, and anyone else that thinks this is a good idea, what makes you think Westminster would agree to any arrangement that benefits Scotland, because every extra benefit that Scotland gets would be matched by a corresponding loss to England. England would be the loser and no English MP is going to vote to lose out.
    We would probably get involved in negotiations lasting months or even years with the only likely outcome acceptable to Westminster either a rebadged version of the status quo or one that was even worse from Scotland’s viewpoint. Of course, during that time, Westminster would continue to pass and apply legislation to Scotland’s detriment, which, as now, the Scottish Government would do nothing to stop, having a nice, new, shiny excuse of ongoing negotiations available.
    It’s simply another delaying tactic. It’s just a non-starter, or it should be.

  14. Grouse Beater says:

    Weegie: Westminster ought to plan *now* for a 21st century informal association of Scottish, Welsh and Irish nations. Independence will not go away, no matter how hard Empire Loyalists try to retain it. There are urgent solutions and questions to answer, because the UK is heading for the history books.

  15. Andy in Germany says:

    It sounds very similar to what we have here: my home state is responsible for just about everything apart from defence and foreign affairs. Theoretically we’re under the federal government in Berlin and our laws must confirm to the German constitution, but there have been cases in the Corona crisis where state constitutional courts have rejected federal restrictions on freedoms.

    This only works though because there are sixteen states and all have representation in the upper house of our parliament, so it’s not possible for another state to push through legislation that we don’t want. All laws have to be approved by the state representatives in the upper house before going further, and I doubt Westminster would like it very much if the Scottish representatives blocked their pet legislation.

  16. lorncal says:

    It’s a non-starter and would only push independence into an even more hard-line position. We really have to be very careful now because any misstep could result in conflict. Personally, I think we are at the point when Ireland reached its own crossroads and chose to break with Britain. Had Britain stayed out of Irish affairs, there would have been complete independence of the whole island, but they interfered on behalf of northern Protestants, ostensibly.

    Yes, there would have been bloodshed, but probably far less than occurred intermittently throughout the 20th century, into the 21st. I don’t want to see Scotland go the same way, so we have to be very careful now whilst still pushing our goal forward. Whatever happens, we will never be able to put independence back in the bottle and cork it. It will just grow angrier and angrier from here on in until it snaps.

    Any new Treaty of Union will not be an international one, which we could conceivably use to our advantage, but a domestic Act, and, as such, will be subject to the principle of parliamentary sovereignty of Westminster, with the Supreme ratifying that position. National suicide. The learning process is slow in Scotland – glacial, like the independence policy of the SNP – and the gullibility factor high, apparently.

  17. epicyclo says:

    The major weakness with ‘Home Rule’ is it continues to leave us at the mercy of an English dominated Westminster.

    It involves us trusting them not to sacrifice our interests in favour of England’s.

    We have seen how well that has worked over the last 300 years.

    And we have 1,000 years of history showing us that you cannot trust an English govt to keep its word.

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