Thursday, 6 October 2011

Castle in the Air?

A question scheduled for written answer on 18 October asks the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure "to provide details of the proposed re-classification of £105,000 from resources to the capital budget in the October Monitoring Round for the Ministerial Advisory Group on the development of an Ulster-Scots Academy Strategy."

An interesting parallel occurs to the Blether Region. To quote the veteran Labour politician and ardent opponent of Scottish self-government Tam Dalyell:

"In 1976, when Harold Wilson demitted and Jim Callaghan became prime minister and wanted [the hitherto Eurosceptic] Barbara [Castle] out of his cabinet, it was decided as a sort of consolation prize that she should be the leader of the first Labour delegation to the elected European Parliament," Mr Dalyell said.

"Not within months, but within weeks, she was wanting more powers for the parliament. Why? Because she was bloody well there."

For the redoubtable Mr. Dalyell, this warning from history finds an eery echo in present-day desires for the Scottish Parliament to enjoy an enhanced range of competences (despite the fact that they reflect the overwhelming popular will rather than merely that of those who happen to find themselves elected). Be that as it may, having previously referred to the Ministerial Advisory Group as a "remedial" measure, the Blether Region is struck by this embryonic similarity with the property empire of the Ulster-Scots Agency — to whose failures it was in part conceived as an antidote.

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