Devolution - Excellent!
The best outcome for Scotland is surely full autonomy within the United Kingdom. Holyrood should control transport, education, welfare, health, and the bulk of taxation, leaving Westminster to oversee defence, foreign affairs, immigration and monetary policy.
. . .The solution, surely, is to devolve equivalent power to England’s counties and cities. (I’d devolve power from Edinburgh to local councils, too, for what it’s worth, but that’s not up to me.) County and metropolitan authorities should assume – or reassume – control over education, transport, taxation, welfare. Some of them have larger populations than have some US states, yet those states run everything from criminal justice to social security. Are my constituents in Hampshire less capable of local self-government than their cousins in New Hampshire?
England used to have proudly autonomous municipal authorities, but is now – at least as measured by the percentage of revenue raised locally – the most centralised country in the EU after Malta.
We could do better. We could have pluralism at local level, with the freedom to innovate, to trial new ideas, to copy best practice. We could have tax competition, leading to downward pressure on rates. We could restore honour and purpose to local democracy, attracting a higher calibre of candidate. And then – a delicious bonus – we could let the House of Commons become a part-time assembly of citizen legislators, meeting for no more than 40 days a year, its MPs compensated for their time rather than paid salaries.
Delicious, indeed. By the way, Hannan's new book Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World is interesting and important.