Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Welsh Assembly Speaker Backs English Parliament

The Speaker of the Welsh Assembly Lord Elis-Thomas has backed calls for an English parliament HERE. Frank Field has also warned Labour not to appear anti English. Lord Elis-Thomas said...

"In England I detect there is a strong feeling that the consequences of devolution for England must now be addressed. I think it is important for those of us who campaigned for devolution in Scotland and Wales to support that. There should be a proper English Parliament, and that could be arranged very easily if the Commons sat on a Tuesday or Wednesday as an English parliament."

Frank Field said: "I think the danger is that the English voters will see that we are against the English, and as they make up the vast majority of voters and return the vast majority of MPs, it's not a position to get into if you're only worried about the politics of it." He said English voters had to see Labour represented their views adding: "There's going to be another big sweeping issue that the electorate in England has got a clear view on, and the Labour Party is opposed to it."

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you may remember Iain, the main reason I backed David Davis to be our leader was his support for some form of 'English' parliamentary voice. The devolution project does not make any sense without dealing with the 'English' question. Not for the first time Lord Elis Thomas says what a lot of Conservatives think. This issue must be grasped.

javelin said...

Brilliant - first bit of serious momentum from the Welsh.

Time to throw off your English shackles.

javelin said...

Hang on, did I read that correctly ... "Enlish Parliament sat on a Tuesday or Wednesday" - I was rather hoping Tuesday morning was reserved for the UK issues - and the rest of the week for England.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that not all the AMs are female, otherwise Lord Elis Thomas could say....

'Hi, I'm Dafydd, and I'm the only guy in the Senedd'...

Sorry, I will go back and do some wrapping now.

Anonymous said...

Lembit - Do you want to fly in my plane ?

Boris - Do you want a ride on the back of my bike ?

Prezza - Fancy a spin in a jag love? Yes ? Which one !!

Steve Norris - Would you like to come on a trip in a lorry ? No ?
What about a trip to an Oyster Bar?

Ken Livingstone ? Would you like a trip on an 'Oyster Card'....

wonkotsane said...

Even the bit about a United Kingdom in a United Europe?

Bugger that!

ken from Gloucester said...

Quite happy with the idea but would the Welsh and Scots be happy to see the end of the Barnett Formula so we can all get our fair share of tax revenue??


I doubt it!!

hatfield girl said...

The constitutional shambles into which Blair, Brown and Prescott have reduced the United Kingdom is an example of historical ignorance, political arrogance and, at the level of professionalism, a public display of their utter ineptness.

When the European Union responded to the (perfectly reasonable) pressure from the German Lander for direct representation at EU level, rather than through their federal government, (given that the Lander have long had regional elected assemblies with considerable powers in everyday matters devolved to them by the central government), a Committee of the Regions was set up. It represents regions of Europe as the layer of EU government administration below the nation-state level, with headquarters in Brussels.

While this was fine for Germany there were obvious problems for other EU states where nation state boundaries did not coincide with historical and cultural unities; France and Spain, and the Basque country come to mind.

In 1998, unmindful of what the creation of a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly might represent to the Scots and the Welsh, regardless of the actual powers being transferred being more or less only those of an EU region, (or perhaps thinking it a cunning plan to buy off nationalism in Labour 'heartland' seats), Blair, Brown and Prescott began to dismantle the United Kingdom.

The UK, as its name proclaims, is not a federal state; it is a very centrally governed union of three (four with six of Ulster's Counties) peoples, cultures, histories, and of those who have settled here from elsewhere. But Scotland and Wales do not look like regions nor do they behave as if they are regions; they behave like countries. Only fools would have expected the legalisms of regional status to hold this in check.

The fools pressed on; adopting the statistical NUTS (the gods are laughing, this really is the term) level 1 regions used for statistical purposes by the EU, England was divided into nine. How this was supposed to provide a counterweight to the creation of Welsh and Scottish parliamentary-style representation is hard to imagine.

The nine English Regional Assemblies are disfigured by their lack of economic, social, cultural or historic cohesion; by their inability to meet the needs of English local governance; by their draining of powers from competent local government structures already in place; and by being unelected -central government, sustained in office by all those Welsh and Scottish seats, chooses 30% directly and confirms the rest chosen from elected councillors from the regions in question.

Except for Greater London which, having narrowly voted on a very low turn out to elect an Assembly and a Mayor, promptly elected Livingstone and a Mayor's Office full of clapped-out trotskyites who even make the left's toes curl with embarrassment.

The North East, having more sense, roundly voted down Prescott's attempts to foist them with the bill for more apparatchiks and he went back to playing at whatever he does in his office.

So England has no Parliament because the United Kingdom is supposed to be divided into regions ; except that Scotland and Wales have ignored the attempted insult and now have the voice that belongs with their (very real historical, cultural and economic) claims to independence, and a direct presence in the EU bypassing the UK central government.

If pressure is put for an English parliament then the break up of the Union becomes even more likely. This is not the doing of the European Union but if the UK delivers itself, dismembered, into its hands, it would be surprising if advantage were not taken.

For this mess alone, Brown has no claim to inherit Blair's majority when Blair goes. The electorate needs to speak ; there can be no comparison with Major or Callaghan.

Constitutional precedent compares like with like and what they have done is drive a coach and horses through centuries of settled relations, and expose the United Kingdom to what Gaitskell feared and warned so presciently against, the destruction of a thousand years of history.

Newmania said...

Great stuff from Hatfield Girl!!
Iain I like Lord ET s notion of a an English Parkliamensitting at Westmister. My impression was that you wantde the full bells and whistles modern architecture , somwhere in Birmingham "Assembly"
It is such an issue of yours perhaps you would tell me why .

Or woud somone direct me to where Iain has lareday done so

Anonymous said...

First Redwood, then Elis-Thomas. Blimey Iain your campaign is really motoring isn't it! Do me a favour these people are no bodies. If you are going to convince the sceptics like me then you need heavyweights. And where are those?

In fact so far no one has made a compelling case for an English legislature of their own. No one, so far as I am aware, has dealt with the obvious problems. Unlike Wales and Scotland, England is bigger and far more heterogeneous. Two problems. First London which is truly a world city. Indeed it could be a city state in its own right. Is that going to be represented in the English legislature? Second, where are we going to stop? England has another nation within its borders. I refer to the Cornish who most emphatically are not English, being Celts and mighty proud of it. They too used to have their own Parliament. Can the Cornish have their own legislature too? On the basis of arguments put forward on this weblog the case for such an institution is unanswerable.

Given most of our laws come from the EU these days I really can't see the point in us shelling out for more talking shops just so national pride can be massaged. As an overtaxed citizen of this banana republic frankly I resent paying for so many politicians who do such a manifestly poor job for everyone except themselves where they excel at filling their boots. Its not as if Westminster is doing such a great job or is so over worked that we need to delegate work elsewhere. Its laws hardly deal with the most pressing issues of the day, which are dealt with by our masters in Brussels. People hold politics in contempt because it has become trivial and is increasingly corrupt. I am looking for someone to clean the Augean stable not build new ones.

Damon said...

The people of Wales are still slowly trying to come to terms with the constitutional quagmire that we have been left with. The Welsh Assembly has the potential to be turned into a great institution, but the Labour maladministration has left it a disrespected shambles. The Conservatives in Wales have done an excellent job in embracing and looking to sort out the problems that devolution have given the Welsh, but it is a shame and a terrible pity that mainstream politics has seemingly neglected the issue of devolution in England, our next door neighbour.

David Lindsay said...

I'm not quite sure what The Druid means about England's being "far more heterogenous" than Wales or Scotland. There is only one English language, for a start.

As for any "cunning plan to buy off nationalism in Labour 'heartland' seats", as suggested by Hatfield Girl (is that Hatfiled College, Durham? I'm a Chadsman myself), while Wales (though by no means all of it) can be so described, there are proportionately more Labour MPs in each of the North East, the North West, and Yorkshire than in Scotland.

It is New Labour (a busted flush) that is Scottish; Old Labour (still going strong) is English, and secondarily Welsh. The impending large Labour losses in Scotland will illustrate this. Don't expect too many in the North East, the North West, or Yorkshire, among other parts of England.

Labour suffered for decades in Scotland from the perception that they were English, a perceptions fostered by the Tories, and now transferred to the SNP's thoroughly middle-class electoral base.

Glasgow City Council was run by the Tories as late as the Seventies (by way of contrast, Labour has never lost control of the first authority that it ever controlled, Durham County Council, in the intervening eighty years, not even when the Leader was sent to prsion over Poulson). Scotland contains many four-way marginals which could go Tory (again) with only a very little effort. And so on.

Anonymous said...

Druid,
In 879Ad Arthur turned back the Danes at Chippenham.
He did so with the men of Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.
he used the men of Cornwall and Devon to protect his rear.
Quite when you think that Cornwall left England I don't know,but I suspect that it would have been by a few who saw the size of the EUssr gravy train.

hatfield girl said...

Druid, you're shelling out anyway for the NUTS-determined English regional groupings; they are there already, but after Greater London and the North East debacles, NuLabour hasn't tried to persuade the long-suffering, Brown beaten taxpayer to elect them.

They're just appointed; so much more convenient, governing by appointment rather than undoing the debacle that's been created, or than facing an electorate and being told again that the system is an unwanted disgrace.

Anonymous said...

hatfield girl - being Welsh, but living in England [economic migrant] I can see what you are driving at.

But isn't semi-devolution, which is what Scotland has, or partial devolution [Wales] better than the alternative of allowing nationalism to fully break up the United Kingdom ?

The settlement being aimed for in Northern Ireland is a long way from ceding it to the Republic, but has been useful as a compromise to the people who felt that they shouldn't be completely run from Westminster.

As a result they have links with both Dublin and London.

Perhaps if they moved Westminster out of London to save costs, as many banks and insurance companies did it would help ? Just think, massively expensive buildings in Cardiff and Edinburgh would look better value if the House of Commons staff were in Scotland and the House of Lords in Cardiff. And it might help us Welsh and Scottish over the remoteness of our 'elected representatives'.

Anonymous said...

Iain, the Assembly doesn't have a speaker, only a presiding officer.

Moreover, he's a raving egotist and self-publicist who's taken seriously by nobody.

Nevertheless, he has drawn the obvious conclusion that if Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have devolved governments, then perhaps England should have one also.

It's just what England needs. A kick up the ass and a chance to work on its own identity, rather than scouring the world colonizing and appropriating everyone else's.