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UK Government must roll back devolution in a way the public don’t notice, Conservative editor says

26 Feb 2022 4 minute read
Boris Johnson. Picture by British Embassy Belgrade (CC BY 2.0).

The UK Government must be “smarter” about the way it rolls back devolution “without the public perceiving” what it is doing, an editor at a prominent Conservative website has said.

Henry Hill, the deputy editor of the Conservative Home website, said that if the public noticed a “head on ‘assault on devolution'” that “might actually spur a wave of sympathy for the administrations in Holyrood and Cardiff Bay”.

Referring to comments by Lord David Frost in which the House of Lords peer called for the Government to resume overall control of the UK’s response to crises such as the pandemic, Henry Hill notes that there was “was no public backlash when the Government passed the UK Internal Market Act” which was described by the Welsh Government as a “power grab” of devolved autonomy.

“Voters are not nearly as invested in the prerogatives of the devocrat class as that class would like people to believe,” Henry Hill wrote.

“This means there is a lot of scope for the Government to pick and win lots of important battles on constitutional detail, such as control of the census, without the public perceiving the sort of head-on ‘assault on devolution’ that might actually spur a wave of sympathy for the administrations in Holyrood and Cardiff Bay.

“Unfortunately, according to Whitehall sources senior people setting the Government’s pro-Union strategy are transfixed by polling which shows voters prefer, in the abstract, cooperation between Westminster and the devolved administrations rather than confrontation.”

He finishes by saying: “Ministers need to be smarter than that. Headline ‘people prefer nice things to nasty things’ polling must always be weighed against how likely voters are to care about, or even notice, a particular detailed issue.

“The alternative is letting the devocrats, always ready to be outraged, lead the constitution by the nose.”

‘Sovereignty’

Ex-Brexit minister David Frost has said that Boris Johnson needs to “unite the United Kingdom” to save his job as Prime Minister.

Writing in the Telegraph, Baron Frost, who sits in the House of Lords, said that the pandemic had shown that it was “nonsense” having different rules in different parts of the UK.

He said that the step was necessary to “save Boris, the Conservative Party and the country”.

“First, we must rebuild the UK nation-state as a collective endeavour for everyone within it,” he said.

“The democratic nation-state is the best way human beings have found to create political community and loyalty, to facilitate solidarity, and to make people feel part of something bigger.

“A country with self-respect cannot have its laws set by others. We must therefore finish the business of re-establishing our sovereignty in Northern Ireland – step by step, if necessary, but with no doubt about the final goal.

“We should put an end to ‘devolve and forget’ in Scotland and Wales. Local decision-making is fine, but it should come within a sensible national framework. The pandemic made clear the nonsense of having four different travel and public health policies.”

Lord Frost added that not all had gone badly for Boris Johnson’s government, as it had focused on rebuilding the UK’s national identity and sovereignty.

“Admittedly, it has two huge achievements to its credit: getting us out of the EU, and delivering an exit from the pandemic without the coercive measures we have seen elsewhere,” he said.

“Merry England is one of the freest countries in the world.

He added that: “People do care about their country and their communities. They don’t think that the outcomes of free markets are the only things that matter. They know that, in a dangerous world, we can’t be indifferent to where economic activity is and who owns it.

“It is the way of the globalisers – those who were quite happy to offshore business to China, who favour unlimited migration, who don’t think that national identity and history much matter, and who think economic and political judgments are better made by international institutions than by national democracies.

“In a classic case of Orwell’s ‘transferred nationalism’, some make up for the psychological void left by their lack of belief in national identity by a fixation with identity politics – an obsession which, if taken to extremes, risks destroying the cohesion and sense of fairness that democracies need to survive.”


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Grayham Jones
7 months ago

It’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories the Russian mafia

Carol Loughlin
Carol Loughlin
7 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

*Wales

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  Carol Loughlin

Cymru

Richard
Richard
7 months ago
Reply to  Carol Loughlin

‘ Cymru ‘ plîs

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago

This is from the Putin playbook, their mentality is the same and they would definitely put us down just as they put down Ukrainians, they come from the same place and use the same money.

Cathy Hill
Cathy Hill
7 months ago

My dear, it is as if you read my mind, plucked out my thoughts and typed them here. The reason Tories use pages from Putin’s own version of the Art of War is that they have a direct line to his people…and one can easily imagine that there have been quite a number of phone calls to the Tories in the last few weeks from addresses that are either within Russia or are owned by people close to Putin’s Regime in different countries. No one donates without thought of future favours. Cymru MUST be free, all solidarity and love to… Read more »

tired of this
tired of this
7 months ago

It isn’t wholly clear which ‘voters’ are being talked about here. Scottish, Welsh, Irish? No, none of them – this is all for the English mindset, whio might, just might, do that thing they always talk about and side with the underdog. So, reabsorbtion by stealth rather than gunbarrel, then. The objectors can then be characterised as the loony nationalist fringe. You can be certain that were Scotland to hold a referendum which confirmed independence (much less likely in Wales for an unfortunate set of reasons) there would be a heavy police and military presence crossing the border in 24… Read more »

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  tired of this

No doubt at all

Mark
Mark
7 months ago

We already have the english army in Wales. There won’t be any border stand off, the bast*rds are already here.

tired of this
tired of this
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Not so simple as you make it seem. There are an awful lot of Welsh, Irish and Scottish men and women in the British Army (and from ex-Empire nations like SA and Fiji and so on). It is one of a very few things which is, arguably, genuinely pan-UK. One problem the Westminster government might have is in ordering units composed mainly of Scottish troops to enforce their whims. Notable, for example, that when the Madrid government took over Catalonia the police units involved were shipped in from elsewhere. Would Welsh or Scottish troops favour Wales or Scotland over Westminster?… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
7 months ago

We see you……. Tory scum.

Cathy Hill
Cathy Hill
7 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Aye, we do …now let’s see them to the door as well. Give them a big Welsh “Hwyl fawr” and never allow them to return.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Conservachovs

Cathy Hill
Cathy Hill
7 months ago

I am grateful to Lord Frost for saying these things, I have tears in my eyes of joy reading the words he has written and I am ever more determined to see my country free from his kind forever. I want to kiss him passionately and give him my deepest gratitude for giving me further proof that his kind are nought but land grabbers and fascists, I have yet more evidence to share with people of the entirely bad faith Tories speak and act in. I know it is unseemly to be almost orgasmically pleased that a truly hateful man… Read more »

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
7 months ago

Why does the existence of Wales vex them so? It’s rather sad isn’t it? They have no successes to crow over and so it’s pick, pick, pick on whomsoever bothers them that day or week. I almost feel sorry for these people, until I remember it is because of them we have the folly that is ‘Brexit’ – hope the blue passports were worth it…

Mark
Mark
7 months ago

Just like they’re privitising the english NHS, everybody can see what they’re doing but the voting public are impotent when dealing with a dictatorship, and so it continues, unless Wales starts to get aggressive with the english government, devolution will be nothing but a memory in 10 years time

Martyn Young
Martyn Young
7 months ago

Seems to make a strong case against devolution and a stronger case for full independence.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  Martyn Young

Speaking to my English friend who lives near wrecsam, he was against Scotland leaving in 2014 now he would vote for an independent Cymru, were we to get the chance

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago

That is the most interesting post!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
7 months ago

You see what Russian money has done to the mentality of these people…by foul means or worse…

Paul
Paul
7 months ago

Power devolved is power retained. The only response to all this is independence.

Quornby
Quornby
7 months ago

Anyone who thinks the self inflicted wound of Brexit is a “huge achievement” should pay more urgent attention to their mental health.

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago

Read these closing paragraphs over and over ” It is the way of the globalisers – those who were quite happy to offshore business to China, who favour unlimited migration, who don’t think that national identity and history much matter, and who think economic and political judgments are better made by international institutions than by national democracies. “In a classic case of Orwell’s ‘transferred nationalism’, some make up for the psychological void left by their lack of belief in national identity by a fixation with identity politics – an obsession which, if taken to extremes, risks destroying the cohesion and… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
7 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Those that are hostile to the European Union: Russia, Belarus and the UK regime.
…..says it all.

Arwyn
7 months ago

To be fair, Hill is small fry, a fringe character. But we used to think of the ERG as the loony right wing of the Tory Party. Now they’re running the show. There are too many anglo-British Nationalists in the Tory Party trying to impose their twisted vision of the UK on Scotland and Wales. They have absolutely no respect for our democratic settlement. They actively seek to overturn it on account of their disgraceful ideology. UK Labour is utterly blind to this. They’re too busy wrapping themselves in Union Jacks and confected patriotism in a poor attempt to park… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Arwyn
I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Red Tories………….or tiny pink ones?

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
7 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Dadansoddiad huawdl a threiddgar o wirionedd gwleidyddol – diolch Arwyn ~ An eloquent and perceptive analysis of a political reality – thankyou Arwyn.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
7 months ago

There really is no difference between Putin and the Tory party. The Tories try and destroy a nation by stealth Putin just sends in the tanks. Wales and Scotland have to act or find themselves crushed as much as the poor Ukrainians.

Argol Fawr
Argol Fawr
7 months ago

You’d have to be living on the moon not to have realised the Tory Gov have been following a stealth strategy of back door power grabbing from the start. Fronting a few dopey MPs to lightly antagonise here and there, they pursue the same goals, if not the method, as Putin wanting total control over its eastern border nations,

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
7 months ago

It may be nonsense for him but Wales and Scotland are hundreds of millions each better off thanks to the greed, corriuption and incompetence of his party in government.

Dewi Williamswhat
Dewi Williamswhat
7 months ago

As the source of this piece of dissertation is a Conservative one the key motive to truly understanding its underlying mischief is to decipher its code. So for “smart” read “deceit” apply it then intellectualist what you are saying so it gives a resonance of sounding favourable and that you’re on their side. It works well on the Welsh? They’re a soft touch because Brexit exemplified this.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago

To be fair 52% who identify as welsh voted to stay it was the 65% of the others that voted no that which swung it by 80,000. We will lose 1 billion pounds in the next 3 years, what a great result

Dewi Williamswhat
Dewi Williamswhat
7 months ago

Brexit is not remotely advantageous to Welsh interests and accepting some comfort from your figures there were still far too many Welsh native voters who let Wales down. So I often say with tongue in cheek when giving reminders of this that it is being said in the hope that by now they have seen sense and have become aware of the adverse potency the dominating English media can have in influencing their detrimental decisions.

Mark
Mark
7 months ago

1 of my farming neighbours will still vote tory because he doesn’t like gays or refugees, the rest of my neighbours who are also all farmers, will still vote tory because the tory Senedd member is from the farming community, so they think he is the same as them. Until politics is put on the curriculum in schools, we have no hope.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Add common sense lessons and Hanes Cymru for all…

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
7 months ago

Sounds like something Putin’s lot would approve of!

Shows that the Tories are just a bunch of anti-Welsh racists.

Fiynunig
Fiynunig
7 months ago

‘A country with self respect cannot have its’ laws set by others’. Precisely Mr Frost so please close the door on your way out and do not come back. Annibyniaeth nawr!

yoss
yoss
7 months ago

its pretty clear that he sees england and britain as interchangable terms, and the peoples of wales, scotland, and ireland as just sub-englanders, who should be grateful to be english and have the free democractic choices of the english upper classes imposed on us.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
7 months ago

This is a blatant and outrageous attack on our Senedd Cymru democracy by the fascist Conservative far-right and is a dangerous highly inflammatory act of agression towards Wales and our right to self-government.

The same Conservative voices are currently leading attacks on Putin’s incursion & annexation of eastern Ukraine , who now condone politically the covert rollback of devolution akin to sending it the troops under cover of darkness to reintroduce Westminstet Soviet-style direct rule.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
7 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Tories are total hypocrites and are never to be trusted.

We must have our own political parties which are not run from outside Wales.

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