Future of the Union
Too often, the case for the United Kingdom relies on nostalgia. A modern argument for the Union cannot rely on our memories of past achievements and sacrifices, however heroic. It must be remade, constantly.
To that end, Policy Exchange is delighted to host a new project entitled “Future of the Union” – a series of essays and blogs in this space that set out a fresh, positive, case for the UK in the years ahead. We intend to spell out how the Union can be a force for good in some of the key challenges we face – from climate change to global security. And we will spell out why the break-up of the Union would set us back.
A fresh, progressive case for the Union must be made. Our “Future of the Union” project sets out how to do it.
Unleashing the power of the Union – ideas for new leadership
The State of the Union is a new paper by renowned historian Professor Arthur Aughey, of Ulster University, in which he says by any comparative international standards, the Union has proved both successful and durable as an arrangement of state. When placed in the broadest international context, the United Kingdom can sometimes look like an oddity. But the Union on which it is predicated is a remarkably enduring constitutional arrangement and a surprisingly cohesive national state.
Alba’ is – as Al Murray might put it – a beautiful British word. It is certainly much older than Scotland. For millennia now, it has been used to designate the entirety of Great Britain. This was why the earliest Greek geographers, when they wrote about the mysterious land that lay beyond the Ocean, referred to its inhabitants as Albiones; and why Roman encyclopaedists, even after much of the island had been constituted as a province called Britannia, would learnedly note that its name had originally been Albion.
In a few weeks’ time, the Scottish electorate will vote a new parliament into Holyrood with all the pundits predicting a majority for the incumbent Scottish National Party led by Nicola Sturgeon. She will campaign on the basis that a majority gives the SNP a mandate for a second Independence Referendum to be held early in the new parliament. This is despite constitutional matters being reserved to the UK Government in Westminster and despite previous SNP assurances that they would respect the democratic result of the 2014 IndyRef1 “for a generation”.
Music is a universal language. The style which has enraptured me since my childhood, classical music has always had an international dimension, and has taken me around the world in the decades since. But even in those early boyhood encounters I became aware of music and musicians from many different lands and eras. Apart from the beauty and excitement of the music itself, the art form became an early gateway for me to languages, history, geography, philosophy, theology and much more.
“Some attention has been given post-election to the Conservative plans for a constitutional commission. But less focus has been given to the significant plans being put together for a re-servicing of the Union. The Policy Exchange think-tank has called for ‘a Grand Strategy to modernise the United Kingdom.’ This is an activist Unionism of a kind only glimpsed before.”
Tuesday, 26 September, 2017
8:30 - 9:30
Speakers: Paul Sweeney MP, Shadow Minister for Scotland, Professor Lindsay Stirton, Professor of Public Law, University of Sussex, Rebecca Lowe, Fellow, State & Society, Policy Exchange. This event took place at the Labour party conference.
Venue: Labour Party Conference