My further concern with the desire for the devolution of power is that it comes at a time when so many of the problems facing us are global. We have to deal with multinational corporations of the likes of News International, Amazon, and Starbucks, international terrorism and religious extremism, climate change, “local” conflicts leading to ghastly suffering on the part of ordinary people, often those who are most vulnerable, particularly women and children, the increasing scarcity of natural resources, attacks on human rights in all their forms, the complexity of our global economic system and the need for it to provide a decent living for all, global population increase, epidemics and the risk thereof, mass migration for numerous reasons……I could go on. None of these are respecters of national boundaries, and none of them can be effectively dealt with by Edinburgh, Birmingham or Belfast however much power we devolve to them.
If we want to be able to act effectively in all these areas, if we want to be able to have some influence in the world as it debates these issues, we need to speak through an effective national government. And, distasteful as it may be, we need to deal with the fact that our government’s power and influence at a global level increasingly depends on this country being the host of London with all its wealth and global importance. London is key and wishing that it ain’t so, Joe, is not going to change that. You can have the nicest bike lanes in the world in Bristol but it will be cold comfort if a rump UK government in London is happily doing deals with Beijing to allow them to build more and more coal-fired power stations.