Sunday, November 26, 2006

68% Want an English Parliament But Cameron Says No

Today's Telegraph poll on Scottish and English devolution makes very interesting reading indeed. Read the full details HERE.

Sixty eight per cent of English voters are now in favour of a Parliament for England. This is up from 41% only a few months ago. Fifty two per cent of Scottish voters want full independence and 59% of English voters want them to have it. As we build up to the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union there's going to be a lot more debate on this issue.

I found Gordon Brown's remarks yesterday bizarre. He and Blair seem to be building up the SNP rather than ignoring them. If people believe they are a serious alternative administration to Labour and have a chance of ousting Jack McConnell then they could well get more votes than they might otherwise have had.

I find it odd - and very disappointing - that when David Cameron says he wants to make devolution work, he immediately rules out an English Parliament even before Ken Clarke's Democracy Task Force has reported. At least let us have the debate. Cameron told the Telegraph: "The union between England, Scotland and Wales is good for us all and we are stronger together than we are apart. The last thing we need is yet another parliament with separate elections and more politicians spending more money."

This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the democratic deficit that England is now experiencing. I agree with Cameron that we don't want more bureaucracy, more politicians and more spending but an English Parliament would cause none of those to happen if it is planned and implemented correctly.

It comes to something when SNP leader Alex Salmond sums it up best... "In England, people quite rightly resent Scottish Labour MPs bossing them about on English domestic legislation. England has as much right to self government as Scotland does." Hat-tip to Dizzy for graphic from the Telegraph

UPDATE: Man in a Shed has noticed that the BBC haven't covered thos story ont her politics page. What he hasn't noticed is that they haven't even reported it on ther ENGLAND Page.

47 comments:

Colin D. said...

If we ever get an "Enrish" parliament. will it be subservient to Edinburgh & Brussels,like Westminster is now!

EdR said...

What's perhaps most telling is that Scottish independence has more support in England than Scotland.

An English Parliament sounds nice in theory, but I have no faith that it won't be yet another expensive white elephant on the taxpayer whereby some bright sparks in parliament vote themselves more political offices and powers to abuse.

javelin said...

Gordon said "independence will cost Scottish jobs" - yes your job Gordon.

English taxes for the English

Anonymous said...

Not you as well Iain? In a a union as unbalanced as the UK, it's only reasonable that the English will suffer from some sort of "democratic deficit" (quite when democracy became a key conservative tenet I'm not sure).

The English do not need a glorified country council that will only waste more public money.

Colin said...

To break up the United Kingdom on the basis of some unscientific opinion poll would be absurd. The separatist movement is born out of the bungled devolution deal done in both Scotland and Wales, which has left both with all the trappings and costs of a parliament or assembly and none of the benefits of 'home rule', plus an increasing awareness of the differentials opening up regarding the services and expenditure between Scotland, Wales and England. Taxes raised in the UK have always gone into a single pot, with Scotland getting a block grant, previously through the Scottish Office, now the Scottish Executive. Maybe it is time to relate taxes raised in Scotland to money spent in Scotland, ditto in Wales, so that Scots and Welsh see what it really costs to maintain the level of public expenditure they currently enjoy. However, that might well result in an increase in the feeling of seperation that is currently seen as a threat to the Union.

And - 'democratic deficit', my foot! This country is crawling with politicians leeching on the public purse - MEPs, MPs, MSPs, AMs, country, borough, and district councillors. We need an 'English' Parliament like a hole in the head. Far better to scale back the number of MPs currently in the House of Commons to about 350 - 400, resource them properly, cut back on the myriad layers of local government, and review thoroughly the workings of the Edinburgh Parliament and Cardiff Assembly. Do they really need full-time MSPs and AMs for example?
Furthermore, the current line-up means that the so-called 'Midlothian Question' needs addressing and answering. Either we are a United Kingdom (in which case there should really be no need for devolution) or we aren't. Perhaps the very existence of the cottish parliament and the Welsh Assembly exacerbates the nationalist cause in Scotland and Wales and is in fact corrosive of the Union ratyher than strengthening it as originally intended. Perhaps as the Union approaches its 300-year anniversary it is time to make up our minds.
Conservatives should be occupying their time asking themselves how they can reduce the amount of government, the sheer number of the political job-seekers, the size of the state, the level of taxes, in this country rather than increasing it. Devolution increased the costs of government, and the number of politicians in unproductive jobs. I feel that it should be reversed, and a large number of politicians turfed out of their comfort zone to get jobs producing something and creating wealth.

Anonymous said...

The poll is tripe. English MPs can vote on Scottish laws any time they choose to. The point is they choose not to. There is no disbarment in law or anywhere else. When are Tories going to start telling the truth about this?

Croydonian said...

I rather like the collossal subbing blunder in the graphic: "Government spending per head is higher in England than in Scotland. Is this justified or unjustified?"

Snedds said...

Despite your claims, the Campaign For An English Parliament protest in Parlimant Sq last Wednesday wasn't a big success from what I could see, far more people were around as part of Abortion Rights or even backing Brian Haw than the bunch of recidivsts who loitered whilst Mr Tony drove to PMQs and home again.

wrinkled weasel said...

Had you asked me, on my arrival in Scotland four years ago, about this issue I would have said that the Scots were mad.

Now that I have had time to live in a country that has banned smoking in pubs and wants to increase the age limit for selling tobacco, provides high standards of primary health care, has a party that wants to support industries such as fishing and get rid of nuclear weapons and stands a realistic chance of doing so, and was and is against tWiIq I think I have changed my mind.

The SNP is no UKIP. They have a groundswell of support, not based on hatred of the English, as many assume, but quite the opposite; they no more want to rule the English than the English wish to rule them. The SNP has positive policies for a new age and I shall be quite happy to vote for them, especiall, as I have said before, they are the only Scottish Party that is against top up fees for English Students who chose to come to Scotland.

If anybody is going to suffer from this deal it will be the English, when they realise that Scotland has left them behind with its forward thinking social initiatives.

towcestarian said...

An English parliament within the existing UK is the "can't really make up my mind" option. We need a clear move to full English independence. If the Welsh and N Irish want to become part of England, give them the option; otherwise give them freedom to sort out their own affairs or to join some other grouping - maybe a Celtic league like they have in rugby.

Anonymous said...

I agree with every word that Mr Dale has written re the need for a debate on whether we should have an English parliament.

TORY COMMENTATOR said...

It is not what David Cameron wants as the basis of the Union,but what the British Electorate decide is right.I say the electorate,because it is those who can be bothered to vote who will ultimately have their say- not the opinion polls.
Politics is in one terrible malaise or can be better described as the doldrums.
What is ultimately in the pay envelope will be the major political decider as to who is in government.In this political climate we are heading for a hung parliament with all its consequences.
Tony Blair will go down in history as the Great Deluder and this is the current cause of unrest in the basis of the Union.
It is a feeling that the English will not have a Scottish,Gordon Brown as a Prime Minister unless he has sought a mandate. If he is elected by the Scottish MPS whom hold the margin of power,the Govenment will have a greater and prickly majority of English opinion against it.Tory Commentator therefore predicts a May 2007 General Election and following the result the Union Question will fade away.

Johnny Norfolk said...

We English feel like a minority in our own country. We should stand up for England before its to late.

I am sick and tired of people knocking England but thats what happens when we are run by Scots.

Man in a shed said...

Against my better instincts I find myself warming to Alex Salmond.

FRED said...

Who the Fuck is Tory Commentator with his moderate words of wisdom.He/She has written a lot lately around the blogs.

Ken from Gloucester said...

I have been discussing this problem for years and at long last it has gone 'mainstream' and about time to.

The vast majority of tax wealth (or wast with this Government ) is generated by the English and The Barnett formulae gives each Scots person an extra £1800 per head of taxpayers money! Why?

Then we have Scots M.P,s with Scots constituents voting on purely English matters and No Right for English M.P,s to do the same.

Labour will try their best to do nothing about it because this unfair system keeps them in power and I can promise that this half cocked devolution will not go away as a problem until it is solved to the satisfaction of the English despite Cameron dodging the issue.

I dont believe in splitting up the U.K but these unfair solutions will cause it to happen.

verity said...

Colin speaks cold, logical sense. You folks have allowed Blair and the slithy toves to distract your attention and take your eye of the ball. Reduction in government across the board is the answer; not more government.

And yes, there are far too many MPs in Parliament. Pretty soon there will be calls for every town, then every street and then every family to have their personal MP, when actually, the number should be slashed by around a third. The House of Lords needs to be slashed as well. With the work of the Blair lizard, there are now as many Lords as there are elected members of Parliament. Given that they are not serving constituencies, what on earth are all those people doing? And could they please stop it.

Hitchenophile said...

Iain,

Labour can no more 'ignore' the SNP in the run-up to the Scottish elections than they can ignore the Tories in a general election.

Like it or not, they're the party of opposition in Scotland and a credible alternative government. For Labour to win, they have to be tackled head on.

Anonymous said...

The North of england is what suffers from Scottish Home Rule as money is cascaded into Scotland and places like Yorkshire suffer a £40 million cut in transport funding from a public spending per capita figure lower than London


Time to get rid of Scotland and invest in Northern England or simply to encourage people to abandon the North amd all migrate down south

Cranmer said...

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

"Despite the political, economic and cultural legacy that has perpetuated its name, England no longer officially exists as a country and enjoys no political status within the United Kingdom."

Since only God can create ex nihilo, His Grace is of the opinion that calls for the creation of an English Parliament are fruitless, however much his heart may plead to the contrary.

bt said...

"...but Cameron says no."
I'm sure we'll all take notice of that and fall into line immediately.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, why not give the Scots independence - real, unadulterated independence, let it be as separate as say, Portugal is from Spain.

No more Scottish Office, no more Scottish MPs, fully separate health, education, defence, security, foreign policy, everything. No point in being half-hearted about it.

And while we're at it - reduce the number of remaining English/Welsh/N. Irish MPs to 250 - 300 and H of Lords to 150.

And tell Brussells to go stuff themselves.
There we are, current political mess sorted.
Simple, really.

Celto-Saxon said...

Scandinavia is better of as several independent nations as the British Isles will be.
The aggregate GDP of the British Isles would not be as high if Ireland were not independent (and please have more knowledge than give credit to EU for Ireland's success)

England could easily run themselves without the Scots - France and Germany manage. Scotland however has a higher bar to aim for, according to international league tables, in the shape of Norway Iceland and Ireland.

Independence is the successful future in 1900 only 50 nations on earth now there are 200.

Sabretache said...

'The English will be the losers' - What a laugh.

Well said Iain, but isn't it amazing how wannabe politicos crawl out of the woodwork with patronising establishment lectures whenever the uppity electorate show signs of supporting something that might rock their cosy little consensus boat?

As a former, but now seriously disillusioned CPPC - early eighties - I personally abandoned any support or allegiance to Britain and 'British' a long time ago. It has become a convenient catchall appeal word whose main purpose is to screw England and deny it any separate political identity as far as I am concerned.

And just what planet is anonymous living on to say there is no democratic deficit for the English I wonder? 80% + of our current Home Secretary's responsibilities for example (you know insignificant little matters like the Police, Prison service and the Criminal Justice system) do not apply to his own constituents at all. He can do what the hell he likes without having to concern himself with the small matter of his own electoral accountability.

As things stand the Scottish Raj can (and do) force things on England which an English Parliament would not allow. At the same time there are burgeoning scandles over the disparity of availablility of Health Service drugs provision, tuition fees, care for the elderly etc., where England effectively foots the bill but is itself denied parity.

Looks like the worm has finally turned though. The 'establishment' has been rumbled and DC would be well advised to pay the matter rather more serious attention than evidenced to date.

verity said...

Actualy, BT, it would be simpler than people think to leave the EU, with the exception of a few treaties like ... oh, ... ummmm.... well, I can't think of anything we need them for actually.

As we are a net buyer of their products, they can't afford to get huffy if we leave.

And none of this half-arsed Norwegian solution, whereby they sensibly stayed out of the EU, then had to establish offices in all the EU countries to make certain they were complying with all the EU rules, regulations, law, and other Sovietesque delusions of grandosity.

When we go, we should GO. As in Au revoir! Auf Wiedersehn! and hasta la vista, baby!

Ian Thorpe said...

Some interesting comments but nobody pointed out that if you draw a line from the wash to the Dee, 95% of people above that line want independence from The Dreaded South.
There is a school of thought however that says we should on gaining independence negotiate special relationships with Scotland, Wales, Ireland and The Republic of Cornwall.

Scarlatti said...

English parliament? Easy. Get rid of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The trouble is we would still be footing the bill, as their begging bowls would simply be transferred to Brussels. Incidentally, I have never met any normally-constituted individual who has the slightest concern about a "democratic deficit".

Anonymous said...

Independent Scotland, do it quick, anything that stops the MacDonald Brothers winning the X factor, is ok by me.

Rob Spear said...

Down with Brown Gordon and the Scotch Tyrrany!

More seriously, I cannot see the downside. We're living in a time of unprecendented political failure - the main parties offer mostly identical policies at a time when those same policies have led to our current mess.

Building an independent England (and Scotland!) would give the politicians something fresh to work with, as well as giving them more respect for the populace.

drifta said...

There is a feeling among my SNP friends that all they have to do is keep quiet and let Blair and Brown and Reid do the work for them. May will be very interesting indeed.

Og said...

Cameron might use cost and bureaucracy as an argument against an English parliament, but in truth we have the building and the chamber. All that needs to happen is politely to eject the non-English members whenever English matters are being debated, which I imagine will be roughly half, perhaps two-thirds of its time. The (un)intended consequence of this might be to make people realise how little there is for non-English MPs to do, given the duplication of representation their constituents have at national assembly level.

Those non-English MPs who hold ministerial appointments are exempted fom my charge of being dispensable, as I accept that ministers have a job to do (except Prescott, obviously).

Og said...

I have just studied the results box again in your post. Under Causes for Complaint, it states "Government spending per head is higher in England than Scotland"

A mistake, surely?

Anonymous said...

I'm all for the break up of the union - quite frankly, it's outlived its usefulness. Alex Salmond was right to mock the ludicrous scaremongering of John Reid today, very little will change if the four countries were to have govern themselves. One union will simply be replaced by another (the European Union) of which the four countries will become individual constituent members.

It's unthinkable that issues such as common defence policy wouldn't be govered by agreements between the governments as there mutual interdependency on this and many other issues. This might be the fresh start we all need for the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

Colin,

You are correct in that Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, is over-governed.

You are also correct to say that many people in Scotland recognise the need for a direct correlation between what is raised in Scotland and what is spent in Scotland.

Let's be clear, the Labour case for the union is based on Scottish votes to prop-up it's historically low base of support in England. Nothing more, nothing less.

The wider case has surrounded the importance of the union in protecting Britain's place in the world - retaining it's place in the Security Council, in it's strategic relationship with the USA and in the European Union. That combined with nuclear power and a home for Trident submarines. On that, why don't we place Trident 30 minutes from England's largest city?

The fact is that the growing demand for Scottish independence isn't based on the politics of grudge and grievance as Labour would have us believe. It's about self-belief in ourselves as a nation, on our ability to grow our economy and our confidence in developing strong, healthy relationships with our neighbours on these islands and further affield.

Many Scots today recognise we no longer need our under-performing Wesminster MPs - who have been an irrelevance for many years now. We know its not democratic for them to vote on English legislation. We didn't like it when it happened to us and it's not in our character to do it to others.

We look to the success of other small independent nations and increasingly are aware that the UK economic model is holding Scotland - and indeed England - back.

The debate is no longer left and right - nationalist or internationalist. It's not pro or anti-business. The debate in Scotland today is forward with independence, or backwards with Labour.

The lies about uncertainty don't wash with a country which opted for devolution. The time for the next step is now, just as it was in 97 for Labour, and just as it was in 99.

It's time for a new government in Scotland. It's time for a new country, with a new, psoitive relationship with our neighbours on these isles. It's time for the SNP.

Anonymous said...

"Why not give the Scots independence?"

I will tell you why not - it's not in your gift to give. Legally, whilst sovereignty in England lies with Parliament - in Scotlan sovereignty legally lies with the Scottish people - not the English tories!

bt said...

Verity -

It should be easy enough to get out, just piss off the French until they throw a terminal wobbly. Oddly enough, though the treaties of Rome, Mastricht el al provide no legal mechanism for opting out (i.e. one that Brussells would be bound by), the much reviled Constitution does, or so I've been led to believe.

What's the odds that the euro-weenies suggest that we sign up to the big Con just so we could leave whenever we wished?
Yeah, right.

Not only am I anti the euro-project, I also think that it's advisable to get out before it all comes tumbling down anyway. And with the fissures gradually but unmistakeably widening into fractures, that'll take about 10 years in my estimation. Earlier if Italy goes down the pan in a big way.

Never leave it until the last minute to get off a sinking ship. Get off early so you can enjoy the spectacle.

Anonymous said...

If Scotland is over governed the tier that will be first to go is Westminster. Brown will be crying about his job then.

We have done local gov reorganisation often now time for national gov reorganisation :-)

Dee said...

The Tories are beginning to look like Unionist dinosaurs, aren't they? It's become cringingly embarassing to watch them beg and grovel for Scottish and Welsh votes, whilst at the same time throwing insults at the English. Some Union. Some Unionist Party.

I'm a northerner and Cameron has managed to turn me against the Conservatives. I will no longer vote for them. Not until they have an English Conservative Party and represent my country, with a different person leading them.

Nice one, Dave "the English are ignorant" Cameron. Enjoy oblivion, because that's the Tories are headed under this out of touch lighweight.

Serf said...

Why can't the UK be a Federal State like Germany?

Michael Francis said...

UPDATE: Man in a Shed has noticed that the BBC haven't covered thos story ont her politics page. What he hasn't noticed is that they haven't even reported it on ther ENGLAND Page.

Of course not. The British Broadcasting Corporation knows that it cannot survive a break-up of the Union.

The Remittance Man said...

EDR and others,

The only reason the toy parliament in Edinburgh is just a talking shop is The Slimy One spoke with forked tongue in 1997. He promised the Scots devolution, implying semi autonomous government, in order to buy Scottish votes from the SNP.

In reality he gave them nothing of the sort and never intended to. Hence the growing clamour for full independence. The Jocks feel betrayed and are angry, rightly so to my mind.

Since we can't go backwards there are only two alternatives open to us now. Full independence, which I beieve would be a disaster for Scotland. Or, recognition that the UK is now a federal state.

This latter course would imply granting each nation (Wales and Ulster included) its own proper parliament with authority to administer its own internal affairs and a reduction in the competence of the Westminster parliament to matters of Union wide importance and foreign relations.

As to the matter of relative size etc, it's irrelevant if the competencies of the national parliements meant that whatever the English chose to do it couldn't affect the Scots or vica versa.

Man in a shed said...

Thats for the mention Iain - but your refernce is to my information gathering exercise on where Scottish and English MP's come from ( the answer is not as obvious as some of you are thinking as you read this!).

The BBC stuff is at here
- I now always take screen shots of the BBC site because they're good at covering their tracks later on.

Good point on the politics page also. I find it a little ironic that Russia is getting heat from the BBC for crushing desent, when the BBC won't report it here either.

However if I get an answer to my question on MP's then I'll be happy enough.

Anonymous said...

John Curtice, Sunday Telegraph
11:54pm GMT 25/11/2006

"Independence for Scotland — and for England — would not only deny Mr Brown the ability to become Prime Minister, it would almost undoubtedly mean the death knell of the BBC too".
so there we have it, and good riddance too.

Guessedworker said...

The loss of articulation between the constituent parts of the Union would not be absolute. The ties of family, work and culture would still obtain and soften the relationship between the respective independent states.

What would change would be the colouring of politics in each state by national interest and by the particular tastes and priorities of the electorates.

I think there is relatively little to fear from independence and much to hope for.

Andy D said...

The democratic error of devolution is now all to apparent to see. At least before, everyone was equal in terms of how they were represented.

Now, Scottish representitives simply has too much power in terms of a Scotish parliment, and a UK parliment. It doesn't suprise me that English people are more aggrevied under this arrangement. Either remove devolution (not going to happen), have independance (not going to happen), or have a English Parliment with English only MPs and a UK parliment for all MPs, (difficult but possible).

Anonymous said...

We already have a English parliament, all we need to do is kick the parcel of rogues back across the relevent borders, the sooner the better.

Jeremy M-W said...

And yet another example of the ball being fumbled. What is Cameron on. He sounds like he is taking sides between Labour and the nationalists.

He should have set out his own stall and stuck to it. English votes for English laws is a winner. As these polls show there is a mass swathe of opinion to be garnered and the party that gets to the punch first wins big.

Whilst that opinion is ignored all the parties will miss out on an electoral bonus.

The SNP aren't going to get a majority of seats or win their referendum so the Union is not at risk from them. It will be at risk if the great body of opinion in England is ignored and which some other party may come along and appeal to with a more dangerous or unstable option.

Anonymous said...

Why does it say that government spending is higher in England, when we know this is not true through the Barnett formula.