The English Question
Wednesday is St George's Day; so how stands England? Is it, as Ross says when asked the same of Scotland in Macbeth, a case of "Alas, poor country!/Almost afraid to know itself"?
The English Question will still need to be addressed even if Labour loses the next election. This is not about party advantage, nor is it about the Barnett formula, free prescriptions or university fees, however much these issues might rankle with English voters.
It is about identity and governance. Within a Union, it will never be possible for one ancient nation to be satisfied on these matters if the other, bigger, ancient nation feels its claims are being ignored.
The First Minister set a target of winning 20 seats at the next General Election, a total which he claimed could give the party the balance of power in the Commons.
In a tub-thumping speech at the SNP conference yesterday, he promised to use this leverage to force the Government into a series of concessions.
In the early 1600s, one E. Rogers wrote "A good fence helpeth keep peace between neighbours. But let us take heed, we make not a high stone wall to keep us from meeting."