Do unresolved constitutional issues warp politics?

There’s an article by a “Macmillan” about the failure of the UK Conservative Party in Northern Ireland. Scotland and Wales are the same: dissatisfaction with the constitutional status of the country as part of a larger country trumps “normal” Left/Right politics about the economy and society.

In the US, there’s no identity politics involved in opposing the Federal government, therefore the localist States’ Righters end up as supporters of limited government, on the Right. In the British Isles, things couldn’t be more different: most parties other than Labour and the DUP stand to gain from the breakup of the Union: the Conservatives and SNP are effectively the English and Scottish mainstream non-Labour parties. Or to put it another way, the SNP plays within Scotland that structural rôle which would in England be played by the Conservatives.

It’s not clear whether ideological centre-Right or centre-Left parties are viable in the presence of a “national question”. The UK as a whole has its “national question” in the form of Europe: if the EU is seen is bigger and richer, then we should expect British nationalism against the EU to be on the Left, otherwise, as at present, on the Right.

This all gets me wondering, what would Dev have done about the EU?

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One thought on “Do unresolved constitutional issues warp politics?

  1. “In the US, there‚Äôs no identity politics involved in opposing the Federal government”

    What? It’s heavily bound up with the white Southern identity. “State’s Rights” is usually code for objection to one of a small number of specific decisions by the Federal government; the end of slavery, the New Deal, the end of the gold standard, and the Civil Rights Act.

    The only small left-wing opposition comes in those states which have legalised cannabis – Californian medical dispensaries being raided by the Feds. None of the US left (such as it is) is really bothered with opposing federalism per se.

    I have a suspicion that in Scotland it is conventional political issues of distribution – jobs, healthcare, education – which are so far to the left of the shires and City of England that they have forced the country into a different political mode altogether.

    (There is also the question of viewing the national parties as funding vehicles for their backers rather than any kind of grassroots organisation…)