Letters: Tory fallacy

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The Independent Online
Sir: The fact that Tristan Garel-Jones (26 June) uses "Middle England", even tongue in cheek, as "an all-embracing term to include Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - anywhere outside SW1" explains the fallacy at the root of Tory resistance to constitutional reform.

This fallacy is that Britain is a homogeneous country with only one type of person - Middle Englanders - living in it and that we can afford a constitutional set-up which assumes uniformity. If this were ever true, it is certainly not so now. We need modernised arrangements which explicitly allow for diversity and pluralism, through decentralisation, a Bill of Rights and voting reform.

There is a better chance of containing, and creatively harnessing, strains and conflicts if the system frankly acknowledges divergences rather than imposes an artificial unity, and provides mechanisms to broker disputes and distribute and share power. A centralised first-past-the-post power monopoly which refuses to cater for differences will keep the lid on the cauldron - for a while - but at a cost to harmony, opportunity and real unity.

"Unity in diversity" is a more fruitful basis on which to enter the 21st century than the pretence of "Middle England, the all-embracing term".

SARAH LUDFORD

London N1

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