17 September 2014, The Tablet

UK 'close to being a failed state after decades of inept governance'

One of Britain’s most prominent Catholics has claimed the United Kingdom is close to being a failed state a month after declaring his support for Scottish independence.

Sir Tom Devine, professor of history at Edinburgh University, believed the UK’s “inept” and “inadequate” governance was a key factor leading to Thursday’s referendum.

“My interest in what is happening at the moment is because I think the governance of the United Kingdom is now inept, inadequate, and we are now almost in a position of a failed state as far as governance is concerned,” he said.

Delivering a public Stevenson Trust lecture at Glasgow University on Monday evening, he claimed a “Yes” vote would “liberate” conservative-minded Scots and lead to the formation of a strong centre-right party north of the border.

“I agree with some commentators who have said this could in the medium term be a liberation,” he said. “There is bound to be the evolution of a centre-right party in Scotland because so many Scots feel that way.”

Professor Devine declared his support for Scottish independence in mid-August, arguing that the 307-year-old union with England had run its natural course. In an interview with the Observernewspaper he said he had been a “No” supporter at the beginning of the campaign, but had changed his mind. Sir Tom said the Scottish Parliament had demonstrated competent government and represented a Scottish people wedded to a social democratic agenda. “It is the Scots who have succeeded most in preserving the British idea of fairness and compassion in terms of state support and intervention. Ironically, it is England, since the 1980s, which has embarked on a separate journey,” he said in August.

The senior academic, who was knighted in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to Scottish history, counts several senior figures on both sides of the campaign among his friends, including Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister and a driving force of the pro-Union “no” campaign. He is the author of 34 books, including The Scottish Nation: 1700 to 2000.

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