Alex Massie

Brown and the Union

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Ben Brogan accepts Labour's challenge to judge Gordon on substance not style and, unsurprisingly, finds him wanting. But in his critique he also includes this:

On the substance of the constitution, he gerrymandered new bodies that turned on Labour and undermined the union.

What on earth is he talking about? What are these bodies, how have they been gerrymandered and how have they undermined the Union? I really have no idea.

I assume Brogan is talking about the Scotttish parliament but, as an ex-Glasgow Herald man, he must know a) that Brown did not drive devolution, b) that "gerrymandered" is a very strange word to use about an electoral system that, whatever its flaws, required Labour to give-up its built-in advantage and c) that the case for devolution "undermining" the Union remains not proven at worst.

Worse still, Brogan seems to accept the nonsense that devolution was some kind of New Labour plot designed to cripple Britain. Despite this being nonsense it's an argument that pops up pretty frequently in the know-nothing London press.

To repeat for slow-learners: devolution pre-dates New Labour and Blair, one suspects, would have been quite happy not to have had to bother with it. Nevertheless he inherited it from John Smith. Whether you like it or not, the Scottish parliament exists because the majority of Scots prepared to express an opinion on the matter strongly wanted it to exist. Simples.

Lord knows, Brown's record provides ample ammunition to his critics so there's no need for people to invent new nonsense just for the sake of producing some grand universal theory of contempt or something.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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