The United Kingdom has seen more constitutional reform under the first New Labour government of Tony Blair than in the previous century. Power has been devolved away from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament, and to the assemblies of Wales and Northern Ireland. The Upper Chamber of the Westminster Parliament itself, the House of Lords, has seen major constitutional change, and Greater London is receiving a Mayor and a new assembly. As well as these internal issues there is also the position of the United Kingdom within Europe, with events beyond our borders having affect on our unwritten constitutional set-up. Further changes are in the offing, with the possible implementation of the Jenkins Proposals for the Westminster Parliament, and the growing calls for further assemblies in the United Kingdom.
Whilst all of these constitutional issues are worthy of discussion, several stand out as more important when discussing the "future of the state itself."
As such, the issue of devolving power within Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England will be looked at in depth. The recent history, the current situation and the possible future of all these aspects will be considered, and in conclusion I will attempt to draw some comparisons between the different problems, and take an overview of the situation.
Over the last quarter of a century there have been growing calls for a Scottish Parliament, with the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) now the second largest party in Scotland. The major turning point in this area, and what ironically turned out to be the SNP's best vote-winner, was the long reign of Thatcher's Conservative and Unionist Party in the Westminster Parliament. For years the electorate north of the border had returned a Labour majority, and to see the Conservative Party in power for so long rankled with the...