Due to the political urgency of the issues surrounding the national question and constitutional reform in Britain, the Executive Committee has decided to submit an emergency resolution to be debated in a special session of the CP's 53rd Congress.

Introduction

Due to the political urgency of the issues surrounding the national question and constitutional reform in Britain, the Executive Committee has decided to submit an emergency resolution to be debated in a special session of the CP's 53rd Congress. Proposals on enhanced constitutional powers for Scotland will be published by the Smith Commission in December. The British government is due to make further proposals for constitutional change at Scottish, Welsh and English levels early in 2015. Our Party needs its own developed proposals as soon as possible within this timetable.

Our party has a distinctive analysis and it is essential that this be made available to the trade union and labour movement if ‘class-less’ but effectively anti-working class proposals are to be resisted.

Our party argues that:

Proposals for constitutional change cannot be considered simply in formal terms but must be understood in relation to the class nature of our society, the role of the state as the enforcer of the interests of finance capital and the potential role of democratic institutions to express and enforce the contrary class interests of the great majority
National identities and processes of class mobilisation and struggle cannot be understood in isolation and that each profoundly influences the other
The emergency resolution that follows is intended to build upon and develops the policies set down in Britain’s Road to Socialism (2011 edition page 28 col. 1 last paragraph and the first four paragraphs of col. 2.)


EC Emergency Resolution

1. The Communist Party’s call for national parliaments and regional assemblies recognises the integral link between constitutional change and the overall struggle for economic and social democracy against monopoly capital. It understands that any struggle for democratisation requires a mobilisation of the working class and its allies in the context of the growing concentration of monopoly and its increasingly uneven impact on economic and social development across the nations and regions of Britain.

2. It also recognises that nations and national identities are not static but emerge and evolve historically in the contests of classes to develop new forms of statehood.

3. In general national identities will reflect the values of the dominant class. But in our era they will always also reflect the level of democratic and class struggles of the exploited and the oppressed. Within the nations of Britain, still a world imperialist power, there is a complex history of capitalist amalgamation between the ruling classes of its component nations, of migration by colonial and ex-colonial peoples and also of struggle by organised labour uniting working people across all these nations and nationalities. This struggle won formal democracy. It also won major economic and social advances. These struggles continue and have significantly modified the way people understand their national identity - even though the dominant values remain those of the dominant capitalist order.

4. Today, in face of an intensifying capitalist offensive against organised labour and its class values, there exist grave dangers that national identities, especially at British and English levels, take on an increasingly chauvinist character and become defined against other nations and nationalities, inside and outside Britain and thereby marginalise the progressive identity associated with united class struggles. This danger also exists, in different forms, at Scottish and Welsh levels and within other nationalities within Britain.

5. Our party's approach seeks to enhance all progressive trends within national identities by clearly and explicitly linking the demand for greater democratic self determination at national and regional level to the anti-democratic concentration of state monopoly capitalist power at British level.

6. Our party upholds the absolute right of nations to self-determination. Yet it also argues that this right has to be exercised not abstractly but in the concrete circumstances created by the deployment of state power by finance capital.

7. Within Britain currently the Communist Party argues that such national self-determination is best advanced by the creation of home rule parliaments at Scottish and Welsh levels, of regional assemblies with comparable powers in England, an English parliament and a federal parliament.

8. Such institutions cannot, however, be viewed simply in static constitutional terms but have to be understood in relation to the capitalist system as it exists in Britain.

9. A federal parliament is required to secure a united focus for democratic struggle against the concentrated power of finance capital which is primarily deployed through the institutions of the capitalist state at British level. This parliament requires powers over currency, interest rates, banking, trade, foreign policy, defence and substantial taxation powers as outlined in the appendix on taxation. Economically a primary role should be redistribution - both overall from rich to poor and across the nations and regions of Britain in light of social need. However, as always, its ability to adopt progressive anti-monopoly policies will depend on levels of mobilisation of the working class and its allies.

10. Hence, national parliaments and regional assemblies also require powers of social and economic intervention that can advance the interests of working people and demand working class mobilisation to do so. These powers include those to develop public ownership and to intervene economically to prevent industrial closure, reduce unemployment and provide strategic aid to industry. For this reason national parliaments and regional assemblies should have their own powers to raise tax and to borrow on the basis of these powers as outlined in section 3. Again, the progressive use of such powers will depend on the level of working class mobilisation and the strength of anti-monopoly alliances developed with other strata.


Federal/National/Regional Parliaments options

To facilitate debate the outgoing EC is presenting four options for the structure of federal, national and regional parliaments and assemblies. The outgoing EC has expressed its preference for Option 1.

Option 1

Our Party reiterates its call for home rule parliaments in Wales and Scotland and an English parliament with commensurate powers
Immediately, however, it believes that within England priority should be given to the creation of regional assemblies with substantial powers for economic intervention elected on a fully a democratic basis by STV within constituencies matched as far as possible against existing community identities. These regional assemblies should be mapped on economic regions (North East, North West, Yorks, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, London, South, South West and with special status given to a national assembly in Cornwall). These regions would provide the arena for the mobilisation of class alliances dedicated to the elimination of poverty, dereliction and economic stagnation and the provision of adequate economic and social infrastructures.
Once these Regional Assemblies have gained popular credibility, consideration should be given to the character of an English parliament – whether it should be a chamber dedicated to issues of economic and social coordination across the regions of England or whether it should have powers commensurate with those of Scottish and Welsh parliaments. In the meantime the House of Commons should function, where appropriate as an English Chamber through the withdrawal of Scottish and Welsh MPs. The House of Commons should in turn become the federal parliament, directly elected by STV, using current constituencies, with the national interests of each country safeguarded in the formation of federal policy.
Option 2

Parliaments should be created with home rule powers for the English, Scottish and Welsh nations taking responsibility for all areas not reserved to the federal parliament. All parliaments should be directly elected by STV.
The English parliament should be tasked to draw up plans for the early creation of regional assemblies with powers of economic and social intervention commensurate with those of the Scotland and Wales.
Option 3

Parliaments should be created with home rule powers for the English, Scottish and Welsh nations taking responsibility for all areas not reserved to the federal parliament. All parliaments should be directly elected by STV.
A federal parliament should be created composed of representatives determined by the three national parliaments on an equal basis
Option 4

Parliaments should be created with home rule powers for the English, Scottish and Welsh nations taking responsibility for all areas not reserved to the federal parliament. All parliaments should be directly elected by STV.
A federal parliament should be created with representation by the parliaments of Scotland and Wales and the regional assemblies of England on an equal basis

11. These constitutional proposals immediately raise issues of popular sovereignty at British level and the loss of key powers over economic and social development to the European Union where they are exercised on behalf of finance capital, including British finance capital. Pressure for devolved home rule powers will therefore have to be combined with an enhanced campaign to retrieve these powers. In the meantime appropriate safeguards will be needed to ensure that the specific national interests of Scotland, Wales and the English regions are protected within federal negotiations with the EU and on issues of trade and foreign policy and that specific representations by national parliaments, within the scope of reserved powers, are enabled.