Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Quote of the Day

The Scottish example comes across as yet another injustice to England. If Scottish voters can settle their fate within the Union unilaterally, why can’t the English? Gordon Brown should now offer the English a vote on whether they wish to stay in the Union, which would force him to recognise the unfairness of the current settlement and to offer improvements in order to secure the continuing consent of the English to his constitutional arrangements.As a Unionist myself I want English votes for English issues - the restoration of the English Parliament at Westminster with dual mandate English MPs.

John Redwood MP

I’m with Mr Redwood 100% right up until that last sentence. I don’t want a “restoration”(?) of an English parliament at Westminster; I want one sovereign parliament governing the whole of the United Kingdom at Westminster. But whilst the present devolution shambles remains in place in the other three parts of the Kingdom, I have been persuaded, over the last year or so, that the only fair and equitable way forward is for the English electorate to be given exactly the same opportunity as their fellow citizens in the rest of the nation to vote on how they wish to be governed.

If an English parliament were to arise from such a vote, then it would merely be the final nail in the coffin of the United Kingdom as a united nation; but if that were to happen, then the real responsibility for its final burial would lie with those (including self-proclaimed unionists) in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales who decided ten years ago that they no longer wished to be governed as a united and single people.

6 comments:

The Aberdonian said...

I remember someone in the Herald or Scotsman saying the English Parliament building has already been built - the Millenium Dome at Greenwich. It is not being used for anything else.

Toque said...

Congratulations on your conversion to the logic of equal constitutional rights for England.

O'Neill said...

Aberdonian,

Rather that than them taking over Westminster, they'd need to sort out the tube connections first though.

Toque,
Just to clarify, I haven't made the full conversion to the dark-side, I still don't believe in the concept of a separate English (N.irish, Scottish or Welsh) parliament, simply that the English people should have the same right granted to everyone else to decide it from themselves.

wildgoose said...

That's a fair position to hold.

I can't help thinking that if England had been given full constitutional equality from the start that we wouldn't have had the rise of English Nationalism, and the SNP would have been unable to blame everything happening in Westminster on "the hated English".

I have two abiding memories of the televised debates prior to devolution.

The first was the position held by the Welshman (and Labour Party member) in the debate who opposed devolution and his stated opinion that Wales had been treated more fairly by England than anyone gave England credit for, and much better than any other such unequal partnership anywhere else in the world. He thought that forcibly rejecting this centuries-long association with England would only lead to major discord and problems. I must say I found him impressive and persuasive - but then as I was an English Unionist this isn't surprising.

The other was the Scotland debate. The "Unionist" contingent were a complete shower who unlike the Welsh didn't present a particularly coherent objection. Having said that, they and their speakers were subject to some ridiculous ad hominem attacks. What struck me most was the sheer arrogant triumphalism on show. When the West Lothian Question was put to the Devolutionists the answer was absolutely unequivocal. They thought England had no right to have any say in what happened in Scotland, but that it was perfectly right that Scotland should get to order England around because the English "deserved it" and it was payback time for the nearly 300 years of Union.

The naked contempt plainly on display was really quite eye-opening, showing just how widespread these views were within Scottish society. I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if the kick-start to English nationalism started with that programme.

I must say, it would be interesting if they re-aired those programmes and then re-interviewed the participants. Any TV journalists reading this? Why not suggest it?

O'Neill said...

I can't help thinking that if England had been given full constitutional equality from the start that we wouldn't have had the rise of English Nationalism, and the SNP would have been unable to blame everything happening in Westminster on "the hated English".

I wonder if we would even have had a SNP administration?

Scottish unionism is at root, quite arrogant yet was and remains hopeless at presenting coherent arguments for the Union; as a result, Scotland most definitely looks the weakest link at the minute. The SNP hasn't really needed to resort to anti-English rhetoric, Brown and Co have done the job for them.

The Aberdonian said...

Wildgoose

The payback is more for the recent period of Tory rule (1979-1997) with perceptions about the Poll Tax and the Conservatives attempted (and partially sucessful) gerrymandering of Scottish local government boundaries to name a few things.

Yes it is not fair and an English Parliament should have been set up. However Labour was banking on regional assemblies (which they tried to introduce) as the devolution for England. The North-East assembly was rejected and the whole thing was kicked into some very long grass.

Some people argue that London has devolution. No. What London got is what it should have always had, a unified local council that could run the Met and the London fire brigade amongst other things.

An English Parliament can still be set up. However the UK government fears that it lose control of much of the power it craves. An English Parliament would mean losing direct control of the vast bulk of police officers, civil servants and many areas of policy that it controls now.

Also an English government by controlling so many state servants can choose to ignore the UK government on issues if it chose to and make life difficult for it.

Like Serbia did for Yugoslavia and Russia for the USSR.

Wildgoose, from 1987 till 1997 Wales was effectively governed by an English MP, the Secretary of State for Wales. The Welsh Tories were so bereft of talent they had to ship in someone from England to govern the country and to many that looked like colonialism.

Maybe the EU should ship in a Frenchman (who barely spends time in England) to administer England on behalf of the EU. After all he is a EU citizen and the English are EU citizens. What is wrong with that? I am sure you will like it. Lets get that popular Frenchman M. Delors out of retirement shall we?

(NI is a different kettle of fish before anyone chips in - they need someone neutral hence Mr Mahwinney not getting the keys to Hillborough Castle during the Major years)

To repeat myself, no Scottish MPs should vote on English affairs. And under the present system no Scottish MPs should be ministers in departments dealing with largely English affairs. At moment at Cabinet level there is no problem.

The Treasury, Defence, Interationnal Development and the Premiership are UK affairs. Other offices Scottish MPs can still fill under such a convention are the foreign office, leader of the Commons, Trade (vast bulk of commerce is still regulated by reserved law), work and pensions (still the same employment law and social security in the UK) and I think that is about it. Some departments such as DEFRA I may add still have an important part in the governing of Scotland.

A lot of the problems stem from "attitude". Even before the SNP were in office there were inter-government clashes. The problem is that the UK system of government is very centralised and very imperialistic in ethos and views. Too many people wearing togas as I like to say. It does not broach dissent and spent much of the eighties under Mags chopping the balls off local government and giving itself more power as noted by NI's John Cole in his memoirs "As it seemed to me".

"Castration of local government and centralisation of power to central government, done in the name of the citizen or as the Conservatives called them, the consumer". Or something like that he wrote.