A Useful Fiction: Adventures in British Democracy
In A Useful Fiction political broadcaster Patrick Hannan provides a punchy commentary on how the mere question of devolution is influencing all areas of political debate. The make-up of Britain has seen far-reaching change in the last ten years. Yet do the British understand these changes? Or rather do the English? Devolution in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has sharply focussed the question there, but in metropolitan England there is only a gradual realisation that the English are affected too.
In his characteristically perceptive yet entertaining style Hannan reviews the politicians’ love of invoking Britishness, from Major to Brown; the role of newspapers and the broadcast media in telling us what it means to be British; the use of Britishness by nationalist political parties; the effects of devolution on Labour’s ability to govern the country as a whole; who pays to keep the various parts of Britain running?; the place of the royal family(and class) in twentieth century Britain. In total, Hannan asks the question; what principles should underlie the democratic running of Britain and its constituent parts and how should the parliamentary system change as those parts devolve?