Union would already be ‘in tatters’ if it wasn’t for devolution, says Tony Blair
The union would already be “in tatters” if it wasn’t for devolution, according to Tony Blair.
But the former Labour Prime Minister, whose government brought about the creation of devolved legislatures in Wales and Scotland in 1997, added that he was wrong to think that it would “end the argument for independence”.
Blair also agreed with the assertion that the policy to fly the Union Jack on all government buildings was just a “gimmick” that looks like “tokenism”.
He told ITV News: “If the Labour Party hadn’t implemented its manifest commitment to do devolution in 1997 the union would have already been in tatters.
“Now where I think we were wrong was in believing that devolution would end the argument for independence. It hasn’t ended it.
“But it’s still a very substantial part of the bulwark against it, and in the end my best bet is that Scotland will vote ultimately and will want ultimately to stay inside the UK.
“But I agree that it’s been a tougher fight than we anticipated. Although you have to say, 2014 when we had the referendum, and there was a majority for Scotland staying, that ended the issue until Brexit put it back on the agenda.
“I do think that one of the weaknesses of the way we approached devolution was not to build real cultural ties and emphasise the enormous things that Scotland, England, all the different countries in the United Kingdom have in common.”
Interviewer Paul Brand asked: “How do you do that though without it looking like tokenism because flying the union flag on government buildings for example, looks like a gimmick doesn’t it?”
“Yes, it does, so I don’t think that that’s the thing that’s going to make the difference.
“It’s emphasising how much we do have in common, and I’m not sure even if the SNP win a majority in the Scottish Parliament that it necessarily means that people want to go through the disruption of an independence campaign.
“I would frankly doubt that. Of course, it becomes more difficult over time if public opinion looks as if it’s sticks, but let’s see if that’s actually the case.”
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