Both the leading candidates for the leadership of Britain’s opposition Labour party have now committed themselves to renationalising the country’s railways. But the state-owned British Rail was one if the most reviled institutions in the UK, and privatisation has delivered many relative benefits.
The 2015 election was an almost unmitigated disaster for the UK Labour party. Yet there was one significant success — an intellectual one. It's called "predistribution". And it has already been put to use by the new Conservative administration with a 40% increase in the minimum wage.
The logic of English votes for English laws is irresistible. But the core issue is that it is genuinely difficult to identify purely English matters in a United Kingdom of which England constitutes 85 per cent of the population.
Projects acquire political momentum of their own. The original rationale is forgotten, if indeed it ever existed. And so it has been with HS2, the project to build a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and then to the north of England.
The Conservative prime minister is making the same mistake as Lord Robertson did in 1995 with plans to make Scotland “the strongest devolved government anywhere in the world”. The concept of the union is gradually being drained of any content.
The UK's Labour Party failed to provide a convincing economic narrative and duly lost the 2015 general election. In future it would do well to recognise the role it can play in promoting good corporations; reestablishing the political and social legitimacy of the market economy.
It is — just — possible to visualise a UK in which the SNP is one of several power brokers in a more fragmented party system. But such an outcome requires imagination and co-operation beyond the capacity of most of the politicians who fill our screens.
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Any action by the UK government that has tax or expenditure implications anywhere in the UK, whether related to reserved or devolved functions, will have consequences for tax and expenditure decisions in Scotland through the Barnett formula.
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