Letter: Now for the West Lothian Answers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Marr, for solid reasons, rules out the two most widely canvassed solutions to the West Lothian Question: decreasing the number of Scots MPs and a fully-fledged federal system for the UK. He pins his faith on a reformed electoral system which would reduce the differences between the historic nations of Britain.

This raises the question as to how much of the pressure for devolution for Scotland and Wales actually rises from feelings of suppressed national identity and how much is due to a reaction against the neo-liberal hegemony which has been imposed on the Union latterly from a political base heavily biased towards the Home Counties.

If a new, more widely based political consensus was established, whether by electoral reform or by a substantial Labour victory, we might predict that the present salience of the "national question" in British politics would be reduced. This might also open up the possibility of pursuing other options for devolution, such as returning power to cities and regions and revitalisation of local communities through urban neighbourhood and rural parish councils with real powers.

In a few years' time we may view the present high profile of national devolution and its infamous accompanying question as a passing phase - another unwelcome consequence of unbridled laissez-faire.

SIMON PARTRIDGE

London N2

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