10 years of Blair, 300 years of the Union…

The Irish Times notes wryly the coincidence of two anniversaries this Labour Day: Tony Blair’s ascent to office, and the Act of Union of 1707 binding the parliaments of Scotland and England together under the first Act of Union.

The remarkable coincidence of these facts tells a story of major constitutional, political and electoral change under way in the UK. They explain why Blair and Brown have devoted so much effort in recent months to campaigning in Scotland against the SNP. There is a substantial disenchantment among traditional Labour voters there over Iraq, Britain’s Trident nuclear programme and unhappiness with Mr Blair’s policies. They add up to a likely swing against Labour this week. Voters know they would not thereby endanger the constitutional settlement because the SNP will not gain an outright majority but will probably have to reach a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats. In that case any constitutional referendum would include options short of independence. As one Labour insider said of such dealings with the SNP: “It is a case of try before you buy”.

This pragmatic streak in Scotland’s political culture should caution against any expectation of precipitate change in the UK constitution. Nevertheless, from the Irish perspective it should be recognised clearly that the elements which have given that settlement historical stability can no longer be taken for granted. Mishandled from London, any surge towards Scottish independence has ample scope to tumble out of control – as it could easily do under a Conservative government.

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  • The surge could indeed gather momentum; the Scots just can’t stomach Iraq, Trident and gay adoption.
    Blair’s done well to seduce labour-england and make his party Tory-Lite, not fer the Scots.
    Good on em.

  • forlorn fairy

    Parci do you think a substantial fall in labour votes due to trident or iraq would lead brown to consider an election, the only other pm who took office mid way thru a term was callighan? I think it was james callighan. Really with a change of party leader and differences between blair and brown lately, ie over independent boards at the health service, doesn’t this mean really that there ought to have been an election called. I think it would enhance browns credibility if he were elected in to office rather than succeed into office, considering his stupidity regarding the pensions fund.

  • Tori

    Two sad events.
    But our history coud really change on May 3.Let’s hope in an overwhelming triumph for SNP.

  • Tori

    Blair’s government has been a dark period for all humanity.War in Iraq,invasion in Afghanistan,increase of richness for a few people and creation of a huge social derangement.Do you think he is left-hand anymore?

  • Bill

    Senior government lawyer quits to serve God

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article1743152.ece

    Anyone told Tony?