Scotland, England, and Wales “Moving Closer Together not Further Apart”, says Brown
New Poll Shows That a “New Britain is Waiting to be Born” Based on Shared Priorities and Values
Governments of the UK Must Cooperate on NHS and Jobs Recovery
A new poll released by Our Scottish Future today reveals that the nations of the UK are united on the key priorities they want government to pursue after the pandemic, and by the values that underpin their sense of national pride.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the founder of the Our Scottish Future campaign, says today that the survey shows Britain is “moving closer together, not further apart”.
Writing in tomorrow’s New Statesman magazine, he says that a “new Britain is waiting to be born” based on the shared values and priorities that now exist across the whole UK as the country emerges from the division of Brexit and the trauma of the pandemic.
He adds: “It is economically progressive; egalitarian on race, religion, sex and gender; culturally centrist on law and order, defence and our history and traditions and with a far stronger sense of place, not only keen to celebrate our local as well as national identities but insistent that local communities be empowered with the control and the resources to make levelling up a reality.”
“But this new post-austerity, post-Brexit, post-Covid Britain now needs to find its voice and is desperately in need of modern institutions that reflect our values.”
Our Scottish Future polled people across Scotland, England and Wales to ask them about their own values and their priorities for the coming years ahead.
In Scotland, England and Wales, people are united in their belief that equality (78%, 76%, 78%), tolerance (83%, 83%, 83%), liberty (86%, 87%,83%), and diversity (82%, 82%, 80%) are important to making them proud of their nation.
The poll also showed that people are across the three nations are largely agreed on controversial social questions around limits on immigration, the nature of British history, and the balance between equality and opportunity in society.
On priorities, people in all three nations said that making the NHS the best healthcare system in the world needed to be the clear top focus for government.
Similarly, people across all the countries of the UK prioritised a dignified retirement for old people, fighting climate change, and making sure every child has the best education as other top priorities.
Writing in this week’s New Statesman magazine, Mr Brown cites England football manager Gareth Southgate’s “Letter to England” earlier this summer, which highlighted the values of tolerance and equality.
Mr Brown says the poll demonstrates that he was indeed speaking for the majority of people in England.
“As many as 76 % agree that England‘s diversity as a country is important or very important to making them proud of being English. 82% think that an equal voice for everyone irrespective of race, religion or gender is important or very important in making them proud to be English and 83% think tolerance is important or very important in making them proud of being English.”
This, he argues, has profound consequences for the debate on Scottish and Welsh independence.
He argues: “Looking ahead, when we now have to address not just pandemics but the other challenges of the 2020s – climate change, financial instability and gross inequalities – are nationalists not now, for the first time in years, on the defensive? Is it not time to ask them why they don’t want to cooperate with neighbours who share their values and ask who benefits when cooperation fails?”
Mr Brown is heading up a review of the Constitution for the Labour Party which is expected to recommend reforms to the UK state to encourage more cooperation.
He concludes: “I believe that as Covid and culture wars recede the idea of new Britain has more resonance and credibility than the talk of a new Britain in 1997. It will be a Britain whose unity evolves out of our diversity and is built on a shared belief in equal rights guaranteed to all with personal responsibility the duty of all. The next step, upon which the Starmer Constitutional Review I chair is inviting evidence, is to reconstruct our institutions to reflect that better Britain and, not least in the light of our recent Afghanistan nightmare, re-imagine our country as a force for good. The message is clear: seize the moment to build a new Britain – or risk losing it altogether.”
Our Scottish Future has been set up to campaign for a more cooperative UK and is backing reforms of the Union to enable that to happen.
In recent weeks, it has published papers on both the health recovery and the jobs recovery, urging the UK and Scottish Governments to work together on the post-pandemic response.