Thursday, September 30, 2010

No you can't have an English Parliament...how about an English Labour Party instead?

This is a post I wanted to put up yesterday, so the theme isn't the straight plagiarism it might seem;)

Ed Miliband:
I'm not in favour of a separate English Parliament and I’m against creating two-tiers of MPs in the House of Commons. I think one thing we must do is change our approach to politics. Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has strengthened the Union. I want to see a greater devolution of powers to localities and communities across Britain and I want to see more decisions being made locally. This will inevitably create tensions between local and national decisions, but we need a politics and a democracy that is mature enough to cope with these tensions and see debate and discussion as a source of strength
So, a "no" to an English parliament.
What about an English Labour Party then?
Labour's new leader has admitted that his predecessors may have interfered too much in the workings of the party in Scotland.

Ed Miliband told BBC Radio Scotland that things would be different under his leadership.

He said Scottish leader Iain Gray needed to set the direction for Scottish Labour ahead of Scottish Parliament elections in May next year.

Mr Miliband said he would work with him - but would not interfere.

"I think it's not so much a question of not meddling," he said.

"I do think that Iain Gray needs to set the direction for Scottish Labour and I'm going to absolutely be keen that he does that, but I'm also going to work with him."

Mr Miliband said he would support him in the run-up to the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections.

He added: "We've got very important elections next May, very important elections for Scotland and I'm very, very clear that we need Iain Gray as first minister for Scotland.

"I think that we weren't relaxed enough about Scottish Labour setting its own direction and I'm very clear that Labour in Scotland will be able to set its own direction.
And in Wales?
Wales needs a Labour Party ready to take on established thinking and argue for different ideas.
That's a Welsh as opposed to UK Labour Party? Apparently so:
Carwyn (Jones) is fighting to keep the free prescriptions and free bus passes that Welsh Labour is rightly proud of, and he has my full support.

Carwyn has led the way for a Labour Party that seeks to earn a return to power at Westminster by demonstrating that we can lead a responsible, listening administration in Wales.

We have a long way to go, but I believe that Labour has begun a journey that starts by ensuring that we are always on the side of Wales.
Very much a "hands off" approach there too it seems. And as Dilettante mentioned last week, the Northern Irish branch of Labour doesn't even appear to be on Ed's radar.

So, effectively now the UK Labour party is equivalent to the National (sic) Health Service; theoretically covering the whole nation, but in practice Balkanised into independent operating units serving England, N.Ireland, Scotland and Wales?

Not quite, after all Labour Party members in the three parts of the UK still have the right to vote and agree on UK-wide policy. But Miliband's speeches of the last couple of days do have implications for how national politics will develop over the period of this parliament.

Will loosening the strings mean that Scottish and Welsh Labour, in particular, will now have the room to operate a more narrow nationalistic opposition to the Coalition at Westminster? Miliband's creation of an English Labour Party certainly opens the door to that possibility.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

New Labour created two classes of MP in 1998....

•One class is elected in England to perform the full range of affairs for which the House is responsible
◦The other (second) class are elected outside England to represent their constituents only for affairs which have not been devolved. This class doesn't represent ANYONE when it comes to such essential matters as Health, Education, Policing, Housing etc, etc.

If Ed doesn't know this, he can't have been paying much attention for the past 12 years

Dilettante said...

"Devolution has strengthened the union".

I'd love to hear why he things that and - more interestingly - if he actually thinks it matters. Is he a unionist?

tony said...

don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Does Miliband realise just how stupid his minions are up in Scotland...........already they have contradicted several of his stated ideas/policy's especially over six month sentences. In generally they oppose just for the sake of opposing a bit like the Unionist parties in Ireland who seem to think that anything good for SF is bad so they must oppose.

I do not look forward to the bullish silly attacks equating the SNP and the Tories with the recession which will be dutifully and without question relayed in the media. Or the swing to the right over throwing everyone in gaol who carries a knife even though crime is now the lowest for 30 years due to the SNP putting 1,ooo more coppers on the street.

kensei said...

There are differnet jurisdictions so different politics is required in each. And quite possibly different policies; Scotland is not Cardiff, after all. Different problems, different preferences. This is the exact same tension SF face when looking South. One size fits all will cause a backlash..

The trick is that the leadership should set and overall direction, some red lines and allow people to get on with it. The consequence of devolving power down is variability. It means the Union becomes looser. Whether or not that means weaker is entirely up to the Unionist parties.

Thankfully they seem excellent at setting fire to themselves.

britologywatch said...

Who said Miliband was creating an English Labour Party? Miliband certainly hasn't said that. His attitude relative to the Party will be like David Cameron's relative to the post of PM: he won't want to be a leader for England but only for the UK.

So there'll be Scottish Labour, Welsh Labour and UK Labour - replicating asymmetric devolution. And don't let's pretend the Scottish and Welsh Labour MPs will be given the freedom to act semi-independently in the House of Commons: they're needed as voting fodder, including on England-only matters. What other purpose do they serve?

Miliband hasn't got any policies 'for England' as such. He couldn't even bring himself to mention the country by name during his keynote speech, even when talking about devolution's supposed benefits to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Probably because he can't lay claim to any such benefits for England; and because the last thing he wants to do is ask the West Lothian Question, let alone suggest an answer to it.

O'Neill said...

Dilettante,

Despite all the "Red Ed" nonsense I believe he is a typical modern careerist, opportunist politician. If it is in his interest to declare himself a Unionist/devolutionist or whatever, he will do. He's as much a conviction Unionist as Blair or Brown were.

Tony,

"Does Miliband realise just how stupid his minions are up in Scotland"

You'd have thought he would have checked out Gray's popularity first before investing so much trust in his judgement (10% of Scots would trust him to be leader according to the latest poll). I suspect, as I said at the end of the post, it's to give Scottish and Welsh labour a bit of space to engage in a bit of anti-Westminster/London/English populism

O'Neill said...

Kensei,

"Thankfully they seem excellent at setting fire to themselves."

I wouldn't argue with that, definite lack of strategy at both local and national level.

BW,

"Who said Miliband was creating an English Labour Party? Miliband certainly hasn't said that."


No, he hasn't, but he is publicly giving the Scottish and Weslh branches much more autonomy than Brown would ever have dared to do.

By doing so, it gives him more time and resources to concentrate on the (separate?) party in England, creating a de facto party there. I think my comparison with the NHS in England is a good one- in every aspect, except name, it is now an English Health Service.

Labour's MPs from Scotland and Wales will, of course, do exactly as he and the whips tell them: but as a party in opposition, without responsibility, I can see even there it only moving in an evermore populist direction, ie they won't be doing anything to potentially upset middle England as well as the voters in their own countries.

wildgoose said...

"Devolution has strengthened the Union". They seem to think that if they repeat this mantra often enough it might come true, or at least be believed by sufficient people to not matter.

Seeing as the Union is more likely to break up now than in 1997, quite clearly they haven't strengthened the Union, but they have fundamentally changed its character, its nature, and people's attitude to it - especially in England.

By creating an alternative focus of Government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without also mandating a corresponding fiscal devolution they have created a source of friction that can only breed resentment.

And in England their blatant antipathy towards Englishness combined with their constant pandering to the other Home Nations has triggered a corresponding reaction whereby more and more people emphasise Englishness at the expense of their British identity.

Insisting that "Devolution has strengthened the Union" is akin to closing their eyes, putting their fingers in their ears and chanting "La la la, I can't hear you".

O'Neill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O'Neill said...

PS. I see the post has made Iain Dale's Daley Dozen- so welcome to any new readers!

Man in a Shed said...

Labour's problem is just opportunism. They realise that they would have to change their polices for an English electorate, but prefer celtic socialism enforced for all with the anti-English devolution settlement they cooked up.

The Balkanise England plan is of course traditional Scottish foreign policy, but is anti-English and just shows that #RedEd will do anything to get power.

britologywatch said...

"I think my comparison with the NHS in England is a good one- in every aspect, except name, it is now an English Health Service".

QED, O'Neill. Yes, it is an English health service; but do you see any of the politicians in Westminster honestly referring to it as such, rather than as just the (by implication British) NHS?

When they start to refer to England by name, I might start agreeing with you. But that's the one thing Ed Miliband conspicuously didn't do in his keynote speech: check out my commentary on it.

tony said...

>>PS. I see the post has made Iain Dale's Daley Dozen- so welcome to any new readers!<<

Please please don't let on the run of the mill anti-Scottish mopish little englanders Oneill............I am sick to the back teeth of edjumacatin them. They are all too easily confused with my sympathies for English nationalism and my unhealthy appetite for calling them on their hysterical hyperbole.

Standards once established and aw that! ;¬)

O'Neill said...

Tony,

I think if you read the headline (http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2010/09/daley-dozen-thursday.html) you'll see Mr Dale has mislead them as to what I was actually saying. Either that or he's confused me with Ed Miliband which is probably the worst insult I've had on here to date:)

tony said...

lol!

Well it's true isn't it.

O'Neill said...

britologywatch,

I've read (and linked into) your piece. It seems that the nomenclature of the issue is of more importance to you than the underlying reality.

Does it really matter if the NHS in England isn't called the "English Health Service" or if Miliband doesn't rename the Labour Party the English Labour Party if in reality, that's what both institutions are?