12 Ways to Strengthen the Union

Alistair McConnachie, 9-2-19. Pic AFFG.

On Saturday 9 February 2019, AFFG Director, Alistair McConnachie spoke to "Tradsoc Glasgow". His Speech was entitled "12 Ways to Strengthen the Union and Stop Scottish Separation". Here we publish the Notes from which he delivered his main points.

The 12 Ways are broken down into 4 sections:

1. Devolved Matters to do Properly

2. Planning for a 2nd IndyRef – Things to Get Right

3. Political Policy to Strengthen the Union

4. The Personal – Each of Us Making a Unionist Difference

The Heading for each "Way" links to an article on this Website which examines that particular topic in more depth – effectively representing a book-length treatment of the subject.


1. Change the Devolution Settlement and get it the Right Way Round

Firstly, what is Devolution?

Devolution, as we at A Force For Good have long explained, is British State Power exercised by Subsidiary Bodies. That is, exercised by what are effectively arms of the British State.

Our graphic, below, produced years ago, explains it well!

Holyrood is properly understood as a British institution located in Scotland, which is exercising powers which have flown down from the central, collective, British Parliament.

Make no mistake. This is the correct constitutional interpretation.

Powers flow down from the British Parliament, which itself represents every single person in our United Kingdom.

The subsidiary bodies exercise certain powers but must defer to the wider and greater British central Parliament when necessary.

This is what devolution is meant to be about.

Unfortunately, it seems that most of our MPs have never understood that. They've never understood what it is meant to be about, or what they are/were even doing.

How Devolution is Meant to Work

Holyrood is a devolved branch of the one British Parliament, in a vertical not horizontal relationship; in a hierarchical, not level, relationship.

Instead, from the start, there has been a fiction that Holyrood is some kind of pseudo-independent body.

This was made worse after the catastrophic announcement in the Scotland Act 2012 that the Scottish Executive was henceforth going to be called a "Scottish Government" (see below).

Secondly, what is meant by "the Devolution Settlement"?

When politicians speak about "the devolution settlement" they are referring to the particular Model of devolution which is used for Holyrood.

There are 2 Models of Devolution. The Conferred Powers Model, and the Reserved Powers Model.

The proper Model, the only sensible and stable Model for devolution – if a central Unitary State is genuinely intent on maintaining its power and authority – is to use a "Conferred Powers" (sometimes called "Devolved Powers") Model.

A Conferred Powers Model means: Everything is considered to be Reserved to the central British Parliament – everything is considered to be Kept at the Centre – except that which is specifically written down as conferred (devolved) to the administrative unit (Holyrood).

The over-riding presumption is that everything is reserved unless stated in writing otherwise.

True to form, the British Government at the time (Labour) produced the very worst kind of devolution Model – a Reserved Powers Model for Holyrood.

A Reserved Powers Model means: Everything is considered to be Devolved to Holyrood – everything is considered to be Given Away – except that which is specifically written down as Reserved to the central British Parliament at Westminster.

The presumption is that all powers are to be given away, except those powers you remember to write down.

The over-riding presumption is that everything is devolved unless stated in writing otherwise.

This is dangerous to the stability of a Unitary State because this Model includes the devolution of things which have been forgotten to be written down, things which are not even known about yet, and are still to come, and things like these returning powers from the EU.

So the first thing – which is at the heart of a lot of the problems with devolution – is to change the so-called "Settlement", so that everything is considered Reserved to the central British Parliament, except that which is written down as devolved.

That helps to protect the power and authority of the central Parliament – and thereby help to keep the one Unitary Nation-State, which it represents, together!