The tories took a sledge-hammer to the fragile union of nations which we laughingly call the United Kingdom tonight. 312 of them trotted down the lobbies from the subsidised bars of the Palace of Westminster and drove a massive wedge between England and the rest of the UK. For now English MPs are more equal than any other MP.
They have turned the elected MPs of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland into second class statespersons in the mother of all parliaments. They have politicised the neutrality of the Speaker of the House of Commons by making him decide whether a Bill, or parts of a bill, should be deemed as English only. But they have not bothered to put any procedures in place to aid the decision-making process.
One tory MP, Heather Wheeler, even suggested that the SNP MPs “need to be on their planes back,” to Scotland. Which just goes to show the contempt that the tories hold for Scotland and our elected representatives.
Heather Wheeler MP
So now all of Scotland’s MPs are second class and a massive crack has appeared in the union. All because the tories don’t want to set up an English parliament. But why should they? For they believe that Westminster is their parliament.
Scotland 2nd class
There will be huge repercussions from this decision. The UK is crumbling before our very eyes and the tories laugh. Except for Fluffy of course, because he’s second class too.
The Act of Union of 1707 was the law which ended Scottish Independence and joined us to England from then until now. The law provides for a single parliament, Article 3 states: “THAT the United Kingdom of Great Britain be Represented by one and the same Parliament to be stiled The Parliament of Great Britain.” This we know of course and the single parliament has persisted until the present day.
However Article 4 states: “THAT all the Subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain shall, from and after the Union, have full Freedom and Intercourse of Trade and Navigation to and from any Port or Place within the said United Kingdom and the Dominions and Plantations thereunto belonging; and that there be a Communication of all other Rights Privileges, and Advantages, which do or may belong to the Subjects of each Kingdom; except where it is otherwise expressly agreed in these Articles.”
Now here lies a thorny issue, for any reduction in the rights, privileges or advantages of Scottish MPs in said “Parliament of Great Britain”, such as is proposed with EVEL, would be in direct contravention of the Act of Union. Any such reduction would therefore be illegal.
There’s an interesting piece in the Tory press tomorrow which is titled, “Ban Scottish MPs from becoming Chancellor, Tory MPs demand.” Just think about that for a minute, if these plans go ahead Scotland would never have a man in the UK Treasury again. Even though we would still be a part of the UK. But, why stop there? UKIP’s Nigel Farage said, “Ultimately if you can’t have people voting on English laws then you can’t have them holding senior office either.” I’m sure he speaks for a lot of other MPs too.
So that would mean that no Scottish MP would ever hold a position of authority in the UK Parliament ever again. How do you feel about that Scotland? Does that sound like representative politics to you? We would end up as second class citizens even though we pay the same rates of taxes. We would never have a voice at the top table of politics in this land. We would be unable to have any influence upon any decisions which directly affect our lives.
In more briefing of the Tory press apparently the Tories are pledging to stop Scottish MPs from voting on English taxes, even though those decisions will directly affect the funding to the Scottish Government via the Barnett formula. It is clear that the Tories are ramping up the rhetoric over EVEL but they have not considered the effects on Scottish people, they are playing to an English audience.
So what are those effects? My prediction is that the people of Scotland will see each move against the voting rights and the rights to hold office in the UK Parliament as an affront. They will be disgusted with the rewards of voting to remain within the UK. They will move towards Yes and they will clamour for another referendum, which the Yes side would probably win.
But all of this is speculation. None of these things will happen if the Tories, of whichever flavour, don’t retain power in the next general election which would be a good reason not to vote for them or their cronies. But they will get in eventually, such is the joy of the two party political system in Westminster. What then?
The funny thing about the question of English Votes for English Laws, a.k.a. EVEL, is that it is complete ruse on the part of David Cameron and his repulsive Tory party. Now I fully agree that if there is a devolution of power to the Scottish Government then there should be a corresponding devolution of the same powers to the other devolved assemblies. That would be fair wouldn’t it? But the English do not have a devolved assembly, they have the Westminster Parliament which they believe is the parliament of England. That is true, but it is also the parliament of the UK and what goes on in that parliament affects the whole of the UK.
Of course our Prime Minister is fully aware of this, what he wants from EVEL is a complete muzzling of the Labour party who derived a large proportion of their strength from Scotland and Wales (40 & 26 respectively). EVEL would also restrain the effects of SNP MPs in Westminster if, as seems almost certain, a large rump of SNP MPs are elected in GE2015. So EVEL seems like a win/win for our illustrious leader.
But here’s a thing. Due to the Barnett formula, funding of the devolved insitutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is dependent upon how much money is spent on public services in England. Now this is a bit crap because if the English Government (which one is that?) decides to reduce funding to the NHS then the funding to the devolved administrations would also be reduced. So there is no such thing as an English Government, there is only an UK Government. Which means that there is no such thing as the West Lothian Question because all decisions taken in the UK parliament affect the whole of the UK. It’s in the name.
So what’s to be done? I believe that all Westminster MPs should be involved in making all decisions in the UK parliament since all decisions made there affect the whole of the UK, that’s the answer to the West Lothian Question. The only fair solution to the conundrum is to set up an English parliament, separate and distinct from Westminster. Then give each devolved parliament exactly the same powers. This solution would be known as Federalism. Anything else is unfair to all the people of the UK.