by Jonathan Todd
Quebec came close to voting for independence in the 1990s. It was then granted more powers and support for independence declined. It is to be hoped that Scotland follows the same trajectory. But it should be noted that Canada and Quebec achieved this in the much more economically benign era of the 1990s. When economies are growing and wages are rising, people display less of a tendency to be seduced by the false consolations of nationalism. Therefore, when Ed Balls in his conference speech moved quickly from English votes on English laws (EVEL) to the inequities of zero hour contracts, he was not talking about unrelated issues. But he was talking about distinct issues.
The core insight of Ed Miliband that we need an economy that better works for the broad mass of the population is correct. And while such an economy would diminish the charms of both UK breakup and UKIP, it does not adequately meet the challenge posed by proponents of EVEL. Without going further to address the constitutional implications raised by “the vow” made to the Scottish people and the ways in which EVEL would meet these implications by creating new problems, Miliband risks seeming to be a politician avoiding a simple solution (EVEL) simply because it doesn’t suit his narrow interests. He shouldn’t want to be such a politician and must ensure that he is not in his speech tomorrow.
Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut