Thursday 11 July 2013


Iain Macwhirter
This is a well thought out piece by Iain Macwhirter about the new plans for an "English Parliament" within the UK parliament in an attempt to deal with the West Lothian question and the recent stirring of English sentiment.

At first glance of course, it makes a lot of sense that, if English MPs cannot have a say on Scottish education, health, law and order, etc, etc, why on Earth would Scottish MPs be allowed a say on English education, health, law and order, etc.  The current system is an insult. (However, as Iain points out, pre-1999, when everything was decided in Westminster, many laws were forced on Scotland by English MPs who had no interest in Scottish Law.

As Iain points out there is more to it than that. And his piece shows once again why we are would be so much better as two friendly nations enjoying good relations but with separate government in the style of Scandinavia. We are quite simply too different to be one country.

An English grand committee/parliament dominated by Conservatives, could overrule a Labour UK administration, dependent for its votes on Scottish and Welsh MPs, rendering a Labour manifesto even more of a piece of fiction than at present.

At present Scottish MPs can, as with Welsh and Irish MPs, vote on every matter. In fact all SNP MPs only vote when finances which translate to Barnett Consequentials are involved. Other parties may vote on more. I have no idea. 

An obvious problem about removing this right is that Scots MPs would no longer have any say in the amount of money being spent in England (not their business), but by consequence, how much was to be given to Scotland.

Of course it would also make a two-tier parliamentary system with some MPs entitled to vote on everything and some not. Surely that would, or should, involve a different set of terms and conditions, salary and status.

Of course the whole thing has been a dog's dinner since it was set up with the express intent of making the Scottish and Welsh parliaments "parish councils" (as Blair described them) with puppet leaders, chosen by Blair leading a perpetually Labour led administration.
There are those who would say that Blair (or indeed the Conservatives) would not tolerate an English parliament because it would greatly reduce the power of the prime minister and Cabinet. Shuffling off unimportant matters to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast was one thing...who cared about them, but to lose power over the English health service, English education or indeed law and order, was unthinkable and would leave the UK prime minister with less authority than the English first minister. 

There should always have been an English parliament and the funding mechanisms should have been changed from Barnett, to tax and spend within the nations, with a Federal parliament, of greatly reduced size, making decisions on matters not devolved. It would have been the perfect time to abandon the anachronistic house of aristocrats and replace it with a senate with elected members form the 4 "countries". Probably 50 members in total would have been all that was required.

I accept of course that the different status of the nations in the late 90s would have presented problems... with Wales not having a legal system of its own, and Northern Ireland being a province, rather than a country, and sharing some of its laws with the Republic. But more work should have been done on this before the flawed legislation was enacted.

After reading Iain's piece I am even more convinced of the need for us to be two, or possibly more, separate nations.


  1. Tris

    I have always had sympathy for an English Parliament but purely on the basis that it did not effect the Barnett Formula, but there is another part of me that also thinks two fingers up English MPs, you didn't give a crap for the previous 280 odd years when Scotland's voice did not matter and to a large extent still does not matter. I think if the English truly want a parliament of their own then they have to force the parties to implement a federal system if it's a no vote next year. If there is no vote then it has to be federalism or devo max, in the event of a no vote with no change, then everything stays the same whether they like it or not. That is a bad enough thought as it is given a stupid no vote will result in another 20 years of Tory government propped up by the right and more of the slow death of Scotland. You just worry about how thick people are in the UK and in particular Scotland are about politics. People moan about the system then vote Labour without ever trying to understand what the system does and what people stand for, makes me sick. It's hot today and I am cranky.


  2. LOL

    You do sound angry, Bruce.

    I can't begin to contemplate what will happen if there is a no vote. I guess it will depend whether is is just no, or no by a reasonable majority.

    I reckon though that they will bury their silly Tory heads in the sand and imagine that everything will be fine.

    I don't think it ever will be fine again if we have to stay. Every time they make another stupid right wing decision. Every time one of the rich ruling classes is caught with his fingers in the till, his or her snout in the trough or his trousers round his knees, we will be reminded what a bunch of rubbish run our country.

    Every time they buy new weapons of mass destruction which they put next to 2 million people's homes, or allow another city bank to make vast profits from floating some more of our family silver, or hand out contracts to the like of G4S despite obvious signs of their incompetence and fraud being investigated, we will think... WHY oh WHY did we stay...

    As for the moment...yes, it is hot. For the next few days all we will hear is this crap about another royal sponger being wished upon us for us to keep, what weight it will be and how many titles it will have from the moment it draws breath.

    Yep... I'm angry too.