Keep Calm And Cut It Down


So Andrew Mitchell has at last resigned over his altercation with a police officer in London’s Downing Street. Those who battled in vain to defend him helpfully stressed how stressful the job of helping to run the country is just at this moment.

Then why not make it less stressful by spreading the workload? Alex Salmond looked very unstressed this week, as all his ducks (or are they grouse?) start to line up. Salmond has the fun job of running a small country well, not Mitchell’s part in running a big country badly.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee this week at Westminster held an investigation into the foreign policy implications of Scottish independence. They were told by retired diplomat Sir Jeremy Greenstock that the global standing of an independent England of 50 million would not be appreciably different from the global standing of a United Kingdom of 60 million. (It was rather pleasing to hear him suggest that even Cornwall might want to go its own way.)

To put Sir Jeremy’s conclusion slightly differently, a unitary England would be almost as complex to run as a unitary Britain used to be. That is, for us, why England cannot remain a unitary state. Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia need to re-assert their own identities against the omni-dominance of London, ensuring that government is dispersed more widely for everyone’s benefit. Not least that of frazzled politicians. Think of it as a humanitarian act.

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