Because it's American, that's why.
Posted by aogThursday, 08 February 2007 at 11:50 TrackBack Ping URL

Orrin Judd asks about Britian, “Socialism having worked out so smashingly, time for nationalism?”. What I wonder is whether Britian could try some more American, like a federated nation. Why not have England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, form states within a strong federal UK government? Given them all local governments and set up a national government with much more limited powers. I suspect, though, that most of the separatists would prefer that federal state to be the EU, rather than the UK.

P.S. Isn’t that more the norm in the Anglosphere than the unitary government in the UK? E.g., Canada, Australia, USA? I don’t think the UK is any too small to support such a structure.

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Ali Choudhury Friday, 09 February 2007 at 08:05

For a large portion of the Northern Irish, being perceived as Britis is very important. Wales and Scotland already have devolved quasi-national assemblies. I doubt they’d push for more independence because England - particularly the Southeast - finances most of the UK.

Besides it would just add on an additional layer of unnecessary government. What’s needed is stronger local control at the the level of towns and cities.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 09 February 2007 at 09:11

M. Ali;

I doubt they’d push for more independence because England - particularly the Southeast - finances most of the UK

That’s such a wonderful illustration of what I was getting at in New Model Empire. Instead of a conquering state using mercantilism to exploit its conquests, it is those conquests who loot the conqueror. This is the kind of thing those who complain of modern empires do not grasp.

As for unnecessary government, I must disagree. I think that you cannot have the stronger local control at the town and city level if you do not have an insulating layer at the state level. Otherwise the power discrepancies are too large and the center cannot be forced to give up that power.

Moreover, Britian has what, 65 million people? Split three, four or five1 ways and you still have what would be medium sized states in the USA.


1 If I were doing the splitting, I would make metropolitan London a city-state. Having urban and not so urban states makes for better federal politics.

Ali Choudhury Friday, 09 February 2007 at 11:21

There has been talk of regional assemblies for the likes of Yorkshire, the Midlands and the Northeast but while those areas have strong cultural affinities, that doesn’t extend to preferences for their own political grouping. Civic feeling is reserved for individual cities and towns and the nation-state, not groupings beyond those. Something that needs to be considered is that the average number of constituents an MP represents here is far lower than for a Congressman so there’s not that much sense of being disconnected from the national parliament.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 09 February 2007 at 12:50

Hmmm. Rough numbers are ~100K citizens / MP and ~700K citizens / US Representative for those of us who need numbers.

I wonder, though, why if people don’t feel disconnected from the national parliament, and don’t have civic feelings for groupings beyond town/city and nation-state, the devolved parliaments exist? The main reason I suggested states is precisely these parliaments are already half way there.

Ali Choudhury Friday, 09 February 2007 at 14:03

I was talking specifically about England. Wales and Scotland are different but I doubt they’ll go the whole hog anyway.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 09 February 2007 at 14:14

Ah. I was thinking of England as basically being one or two states. Basically

  • England
  • London (metro)
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales

I would agree that subdividing England beyond London / not-London wouldn’t work. Speaking as some one in a similar kind of place, basically everyone who lives in Illinois but not Chicago would love to see Chicago put in to a different state. I am making the presumption that England is similar.

cjm Friday, 09 February 2007 at 14:35

“we’re not from London” — withnail

from my experience there, the north and south of england don’t have much affection for each other. without a strong national government, the uk would decompose into bitsy pieces and become vulnerable to invasion again. the bigger problem for the uk, imo, is they have too many people and are at risk of not beng able to produce adequate food locally (if they haven’t reached that point already).

Ali Choudhury Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 06:54

“from my experience there, the north and south of england don’t have much affection for each other. without a strong national government, the uk would decompose into bitsy pieces and become vulnerable to invasion again.”

I’d be very sceptical of that ever happening. The North, Midlands, South etc. all quite firmly feel part of the same country even if Wales and Scotland tend to be more ambivalent. Most intra-England “rivalries” tend to centre around local football derbies against neighbouring towns like Liverpool\Manchester, Southampton\Portsmouth, Birmingham City\Aston Villa, Sunderland\Newcastle etc. North\South rivalry is not very significant at all. It used to be more pronounced in earlier decades but even that was more because of class issues than anything else.

cjm Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 10:33

my point is (and it is just an opinion) that once you start federalizing a place as small as the uk, you quicky reach a point where the individual pieces become un-cooperative and vulnerable. you have a real identity problem going on over there and it shows in many ways. but that’s socialism for you, all against all.

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