The Balmoral Accord
After the collapse of the SNP administration in 2024 and the Spring General Election swept the newly re-branded British Labour Party (BLP) to power, forces north and south of the border were quick to draw new alliances. The Balmoral Accord of 30 November that year brought King Charles, Sir Keir Starmer and the new First Minister Gordon Brown together to ‘ensure stability’ of the devolution settlement and make new constitutional arrangements on a firmer footing.
The Accord assured the protection of Holyrood giving it permanent status in return for reduced powers and the stricture that it was the ‘settled will’ of the British people was to be ‘united as one nation’. The new ‘Holyrood Assembly’ would have the ability to host cultural events including annual Burns Suppers and special St Andrews Day celebrations in New York and overseas, but would have reduced legislative authority in such areas as sports and the arts, justice and policing, taxation and the benefits system. Despite protests the moves were popular as the new Starmer government initiated a programme to ‘Rebuild Britain’ amid a wave of patriotic fervour and greatly increased regional funding.
Shortly after the Balmoral Accord was signed the One Island Bill was passed through Westminster which consolidated the new relationships and strengthened bonds across Britain. The bill included provision for a British Youth Service (BYS), an environmentally-focused compulsory programme for young people aimed at giving opportunities for youngsters between the ages of 16-18. The project was championed by King Charles who described it as ‘an opportunity for this generation to do their bit for the climate’ and included street and river litter clean-ups. Young people attending university would be exempt but all others were required to participate and could choose from a range of activities to take part.
The bill also created for the first time a UK-wide British football team to represent the country. The team would play home games at Wembley but also play additional fixtures at Old Trafford, Windsor Park and Hampden Park, as well as charity matches abroad. The boldness of the British Labour Party’s vision surprised many but the sweeping changes included a new national anthem written by Adele and the adoption of US-style school assembles where the new anthem and pledge of honour was recited.
Although in Scotland there were some protests at the reabsorption of the arts and sports into a UK government setting, these were quickly offset by sporting success and the realisation that arts funding had effectively collapsed in Scotland by the winter of 2023.
The British Labour Party (BLP) electoral success was cemented by the election of President Musk in the USA which in turn led quickly to dramatic changes in geopolitics and peace talks. After Trident was decommissioned and WMD withdrawn from Faslane, there was a huge increase in drone production and other military hardware with new jobs being created across Scotland as part of the new peace dividend. Although it was not apparent at the time there was also heavy investment in psy-ops training based in Edinburgh instead of the outdated Cold war weaponry.
While the British Labour Party won an unprecedented majority in Westminster and Holyrood their response to the legacy adopted from the Conservative’s was two-fold. On the one hand they set up a series of public inquiries into the levels of corruption in public office that led to the imprisonment of several kay former cabinet ministers, on the other they adopted wholesale the Conservatives law-enforcement proposals for ‘public safety’ and ensured the continuance of the ‘Rwanda and illegal immigration plans’ which had proved popular as part of their 2024 manifesto. Migrant crossings were effectively eliminated soon after the navy was put on stand-by and the problem of migrant workers was resolved by a generous Seasonal Work Permit scheme that was brought in after the collapse of the food supply in 2023 had caused widespread hunger and the start of the ‘Supermarket Strikes’.
A key pledge of Prime Minister Starmer’s vision was to deal with the problem of poverty and inequality. He promised a ‘foodbank in every town and village’ and guaranteed energy bills to be capped by the newly nationalised British Energy Company.
The popularity of the new government surprised many but the combination of new job opportunities in the armed forces (which had a permanent on-campus presence in schools) as well as the leadership shown by King Charles meant that government and monarch were working in unison for the common good.
The role of the arts and sports should not be underestimated in forging the new sense of nationhood. The National Theatre toured the whole country packing out theatres and cinemas for ‘live’ performances and sporting success on the football field quickly overtook any yearning for former parochial formats. Livestreaming the deportation of asylum seekers was popular on social media and on big screens in city centres and helped the sense of cohesion and unity of the whole country.
Starmer’s government initiated a range of imaginative policies aimed at improving social and business connections and incentivising exchanges throughout Britain. Exchange programmes between towns and cities were introduced with Scotch and English places ‘twinned’ and able to apply for improvement grants. There was more to come with civic organisations and institutions sponsoring schools to twin up as environmental champions in their respective communities.
The new settlement allowed for security and prosperity on these islands in ways that was unimaginable as recently as 2023.