The Labour Party has an opportunity. It should reject the Scottish nationalism of the SNP in Scotland and the status quo Unionism of the Tories in Westminster. Instead, it should seek to reimagine the UK and posit a new vision of Progressive Federalism, replacing the Union state with a new federal state based on progressive principles including subsidiarity, solidarity, the redistribution of power and wealth, and parity of esteem between our nations and regions.
Scotland needs a radical Labour government prepared to fully utilise the substantial powers already available to it to deal effectively with the cocktail of social and economic afflictions scarring the nation. Holyrood also needs more powers for a purpose including greater powers over borrowing, employment law, social security, drugs policy, and immigration, to create a fairer and socially just society.
England needs a period of introspection to answer questions on how greater autonomy can be achieved for its regions and how as a nation it can be accommodated within a modern federal settlement for the UK. Regions must be empowered to make decisions tailored to its local needs with central government support on transport, housing, planning, health and social care, local taxation, borrowing, and social security, and these regions also must be effectively represented at Westminster.
The centre also requires radical reform:
- The House of Lords should be abolished and replaced with a federal Senate of the Nations and Regions elected using PR, representing the devolved nations and English regions.
- New intergovernmental machinery should be established including a Council of the Union, bringing together the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as local leaders from England.
- The UK should adopt a modern progressive and codified constitution, abolishing the royal prerogative and replacing it with clearly defined legal powers, while also guaranteeing the constitutional permanence and independence of devolved and local government.
- The constitution should entrench international human rights standards, extend economic and industrial democracy, enshrine environmental protections, and facilitate a redistribution of power and wealth across the UK.
- A UK-wide Constitutional Convention supported by citizens’ assemblies should be established to consider options for reform and to feed into the process of constitutional transformation.
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