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Unformatted text preview: spects of the present scheme unconstitutional, in a
judgement delivered on 11 November 1999.
Thus far, intergovernmental conflict over resources has been minimal, probably because of the lubrication of unexpected
real expenditure growth. This is one of the factors which have, thus far, falsified Midwinter and McVicar’s (1996a,b)
apocalyptic predictions of conflict which would destabilize the Union.
Those supporting devolution recognized the strains on the Barnett formula-controlled assigned budget which might
arise. These concerns operated at two levels. Firstly, a collapse of public service quality in some parts of inner London
might take opinion formers and the middle class further out of public provision and reduce the need, and weaken
political support, for the higher expenditure in England which generates formula consequences. Second, a fundamental 275 Commission on Fiscal Imbalance shift in UK policy towards tax expenditure support for private health and education would automatically mean that there
were fewer formula consequences.37 5. COMPARISON BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Certain differences and similarities between Canada and the United Kingdom can usefully be summarized. Firstly,
Canada became a federation in 1867 whereas the United Kingdom is not a federation, and probably never will be.
Nevertheless, recent UK developments are quasi-federal in character and reflect the fact that, in both countries, there is
a real possibility of break-up. Québec has had referendums on separation, and the break-up of the United Kingdom
began in 1922. But for World War I, devolution might well have been implemented in Scotland in the 1910s when ‘Home
Rule All Round’ was a vibrant rallying cry in the periphery. To a considerable extent, devolution, which had been strongly
supported by the Labour Party, went off the agenda because Labour, both in office and in opposition at Westminster,
attached great importance to the centralized UK welfare state. The existence of potentially insoluble conflicts, which
federalism is seen as a way of managing, distinguishes both Canada and the United Kingdom from a federation like
Germany, where federalism is more a governance concept than a mechanism for assuaging deep conflicts or facilitating
marked policy divergence.
Secondly, in both Canada and the United Kingdom there are markedly different patterns of political support in different
area, a feature that has been accentuated by the first-past-the-post electoral system. Its effect was particularly
pronounced during the 1979-97 Conservative Government, which relied upon majorities from England to pass legislation
concerning Scotland and Wales. The Labour Party’s revival in southern England in the 1997 General Election, sustained
in 2001, has modified this picture, though provoking new complaints that New Labour’s preoccupation with ‘Middle
England’ is leading it to neglect its heartlands. The electoral system thereby amplifies fluctuations in political support.
Thirdly, Scotland often defines itself in relation to England, i...
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