I have to admit to watching the phoney war of the first week or so of the UK general election campaign with something close to dismay. The way all parties were keen to make all sorts of policy commitments entailing more spending – when the reality is going to be about what cuts are made and where – did little to increase faith in the nature of the political process. Nick Clegg’s interview with the Observer last Sunday (reported here, see also this piece) showed he has realised the social division that serious austerity could create, but not the territorial implications of that. Anyone watching the launch of the Tories’ manifesto on Tuesday will have noticed their prominent display of a map of the UK covered with ‘We’re all in this together’ . Territorially speaking, the Tories are putting an awful lot of stock in the idea of a cross-UK solidarity continuing to work to maintain the integrity of the Union – a form of solidarity that is being strongly disputed by the nationalist parties, if no-one else, and which I think is fragile at best. I discussed the hazards of this approach in an earlier post, which can be found here.
I’ll be writing further about the devolution implications of all the parties’ election manifestoes in the next week or so.