I listened to an interview with Gordon Brown this morning on Radio 4’s Today programme. (An oddly enjoyable – but yes, trivial – listening experience at times as Brown and Sarah Smith talked over each other!) However, I was on the alert for the F word. And indeed one did come as a key part of Brown’s plan to save the Union. But not the F word I was expecting!
This morning’s big plan is for PM Johnson to establish a ‘FORUM’ for him and the leaders of the devolved parliaments – now that radical, persuasive innovation does merit capitalisation! And alongside this big idea he had more: the PM should establish a ‘constitutional ENQURY’ (or was it just a REVIEW?).
I am always reminded in these situations of what Unionists shared with each other early last year in that cosy These Islands get together in Newcastle. We have this insight from Henry Hill Assistant Editor of Conservative Home writing on 9 April 2020. I’ve given a longer extract for interest: the reference to Mr Brown comes at the end.
‘This week Sir Keir Starmer, their newly-elected national leader, committed himself in the Daily Record to setting up a constitutional convention with the aim of working out a ‘federal’ model of governance for Britain.’
Hill goes on: ‘Notably, and depressingly, he even explicitly says that he wants this to include not only a re-assessment of the relationship between the devolved governments and Westminster, but more powers for the Scottish Parliament. This illustrates how under-developed this thinking is: even the likes of Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and a committed federalist, told a recent pro-UK conference that the Scottish Government has “sufficient powers”.’
And then crucially: ‘In fact even Gordon Brown, in the middle of his argument with me at that same conference, was at pains to disclaim the suggestion that he was calling for even more powers for Holyrood.’
Mr Brown’s duplicity on all such matters needs forensic analysis and relentless exposure.