It's been an interesting time in Blighty recently. As we approach the tercentenary of the Act of Union 1707 (which united the crowns of England and Scotland) more and more questions are being raised about the union. Many would like to see an end to it; indeed recent polls from ICM and YouGov have indicated a majority in favour of Scotland becoming independent. However, interestingly a BBC poll has suggested that most Scottish, Welsh, and English People are in favour of the establishment of an English Parliament. If the BBC poll has managed to key in on a strong undercurrent of feeling it would suggest the Union is not in so precarious a position as may initially have appeared. It would however mean the UK's development trajectory has become locked onto path which would ultimately lead to a quasi-federal state. Whether that would be a good or a bad thing is of course a separate issue altogether.
Whatever may happen with the union though one thing is certain, the United Kingdom is under threat for one reason and one reason alone; the Labour government's obsession with devolution. An obsession which has lead only to increased layers of government and a rise in nationalist sentiment.
The (potential) impending collapse of the union aside, this week has seen some other interesting developments. In an article for the UK's leading centre-right newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, has attempted to reassure the party's base that he is conservative to his core – branding himself as more the heir to Thatcher than the heir to Blair. This move came after months of uneasiness amongst the party's base who were concerned by Cameron's increasingly leftist public statements. The effect of the article was mired somewhat though by the revelation that Cameron had decided to clip the wings of the party's leading hawk, Liam Fox. As one might expect these two things juxtaposed sent out confusing signals. At one and the same time Cameron sought to endear himself to the rank-and-file whilst at the same time silencing a member of the front bench who represents the views of large swathes of that rank-and-file. Most worryingly of all though the action against Fox signified a move towards a dovish stance at a time when aggressive action is called for against islamofacism.
Problems at the Home Office remained in the news this week. In yet another organisational disaster it recently became apparent that thousands of British citizens convicted of crimes abroad, many of them sex crimes (including paedophilia), returned to the UK without their crimes being registered by the Home Office. The net result has been a situation where convicted sex offenders have been able to pass under the radar that would ordinarily have prevented them from obtaining jobs working with children. Ultimately though the continuing debacles at the Home Office are drilling an ever larger hole in the once (apparently) glistening ship that is HMS Labour.
Finally – and on a lighter note – many will be disappointed to hear that Tony Blair, contrary to earlier reports, is not recruiting a butler. Those who would otherwise have relished the opportunity bring Tony his afternoon tea must instead content themselves with applying for the position of house manager. Tea bringing is the exclusive reserve of Monica and Vera, two long-serving stalwarts of 10 Downing Street.
No doubt next week will bring some equally interesting stories for us to stick our teeth into. Until then I wish you all the best.