Saturday, October 28, 2006

David Trimble on the West Lothian Question

One of the more popular posts this week was THIS one on an English Constitutional Convention. It attracted 84 comments. David Trimble also emailed me to point out the error of my ways. He said...

Last year I spoke to at the preconference dinner of the Scottish Conservatives, in the course of which I made the attached comments on the West Lothian question. You may feel that you avoid this arguement by having an English parliament but that would lead even more quickly to the end of the United Kingdom. I cannot understand why any Conservative follows such a course.

David is a man I have great respect for so I read his remarks with interest and have now got his permission to post them on here. But respect does not also mean that I have to agree with him.

...In such a situation, obviously a range of matters will be floated. One appeared the other day that bothers me. It is our old friend the West Lothian question. Some folk I think have a sentimental attachment to this. It must be nice to be told there is this important issue named after part of Scotland. Some are sentimental about Tam Dalyell. He is a fine man, virtually a Parliamentary institution. But that does not mean he is right. In fact in his splendid Parliamentary campaigns he is more often wrong than right. Superficially he appears right when he says that it is wrong that a Scots MP can vote on English matters but an English MP cannot vote on Scots matters. But if we look more closely it is a different matter. It is all a result of the rather curious way government is structured.

We have a government of the United Kingdom. It has Ministers who make policy who are each allocated a subject. It may be work and pensions, it may be trade and industry, it might be health. So far as the government is concerned each of those Ministers has the lead on that subject. But technically most of those subject ministries are so-called English ministries. And in addition to the subject Ministries there are the three territorial departments, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While there may be junior ministers within them who appear to be responsible for certain policy matters so far as the government is concerned its policy is made in the subject ministry in Whitehall. So in Westminster, if a Scots Welsh or Ulster member wanted to get involved in a debate on government policy concerning pensions his only real chance is in debates created by the so-called English department.

Does devolution make a difference to this? Not really. Look at finance. The famous Barnett formula just said that the territorial departments would get additional sums pro rata increases in expenditure in England. The latter are based on the government’s policies in England. So the increases that come to the devolved region are to enable it to carry out the policies that apply to England. In theory there is the freedom to vary policies, but the financial considerations mean that variations are modest. So preventing a Scots member from voting on an “English” matter will mean he cannot have an input in the policy that will apply in Scotland, which the MSP will inevitably accept with minor changes, if any, because the overall policy was decided in London! The result will be undemocratic. And this leaves out arguments about two classes of MP and reference to the debates on the various Irish home rule Bills where this issue was debated ad nauseam and settled, except for those who have forgotten about them.

So let us have an end to Conservative spokesmen suggesting that our representatives are deprived of their vote. It is wrong in principle. It is not even good politics. Conservatives do not need to reinforce the impression that they are only an English party, and a party of only part of England at that. They need to show that they are a British party, a party for everyone in this United Kingdom. The new leadership has the opportunity to remodel the party in this direction also!



Man in a Shed said...

David Trimble would have got away with that 15 years ago, but not now in the days of no student loans, free health care and general financial irresponsibility combined with institution Anglophobia North of Berwick.

The question Mr Trimble needs to ask himself is which way would Northern Ireland go if the Union between England and Scotland breaks ? He has three choices.

I hope it won't come to that - but the more non-English MP's and representatives seek to lecture the English on the fact that nothing needs to be done the more likely he is to have to make that choice.

Anonymous said...

It's yet another wonderful example of how a complicated issue can be boiled down to an emotive, attention-grabbing headline that really gets people ranting.

I'm all for discussing and sorting out these issues, but it doesn't help when people simply operate on newspaper headlines rather than a full understanding of the original problems. Thanks for doing your best to clear it up, Iain.

Anonymous said...

Thank you David Trimble! I am quite shocked at having to say that, but his arguement is well put and does make me a little less angry at the Scots and Irish.

Anonymous said...

It is an EU programme to break up the UK, Iain. Trimble is right that it should not be a Conservatibe aim to achieve that.

The spirit of the union needs renewing, as the splitters have been given the media in Scotland, and people have lost sight of any arguments in favour of the union.

Controlling our borders will become imossible if the Union were to break. Unless we construct a modern day hadrian's wall.

The answer to the West Lothian question is not necessarily the end of the Union, but a reform and a restrengthening. Cameron might have the ability to reglue the parts of the UK together. It's worth giving him a try.

Anonymous said...

Trimble talking to Scottish Conservatives about the West lothian Question ,dare he not speak of it in England? He can spruke as much as he wants to politicians, but unless the English public is involved in the debate he is as arrogant as the rest of them.The ulster scots dislike the southern irish marginally more than
they dislike the English.England is only a crutch for them.Have they not noticed we don't do union jacks any more? Trimble, several years ago,when asked about an English Parliament replied "no way".
I want an end to the lords so that non English peers are prevented on legislating on English affairs.

Anonymous said...

Common sense from an excellent politician who should have been in a conservative cabinet.
He actually looks at the bigger picture and comes up with a fairer argument as a result.

Andrew said...

Hello again Iain. Mr. Trimble is spot on his analysis of the situation - your twin ideas:

1) English votes on English laws - is unworkable - who can say which laws affect only England? What happens when the UK govt. is from one party, but the majority of English MPs are from another;

2) An English Parliament is also unworkable - it would be 90% of the existing Parliament, and most people aren't so bothered about things that they want yet another layer of politicians on the taxpayer teat;

In both of these scenarios the UK as a whole would dissolve very quickly thereafter - the end of Britain as we know it, complete with all sorts of undesirable issues - e.g. which of us is English/Scottish/Welsh/N. Irish etc.? What happens to Britain's place in the world (e.g. UN Security Council seat) etc. etc.

It's a can of worms with a long history - much more trouble than the moans of a few malcontents who want to upset the whole UK applecart because they want to see the back of Tony Blair and his government (as we all do, but not at any cost!).

I commend, once again, this excellent paper by Iain MacLean of Oxford University on the subject of the WLQ and the Barnett Formula to all those who want an informed view about the history of how things came to be as they are and the upsides and downsides of different solutions to these issues, the only perfect solution being the unneeded and unwanted dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

I had to read this post a couple of times to get my head around it. I wonder what he thought about the fact that Scottish MPs got a say on top-up fees for England & Wales? That policy did not apply to Scotland. Maybe I'm just thick...

Anonymous said...

David Trimble makes a good argument with respect to financial issues, but I cannot see the equivalent justifications for other issues, e.g. foxhunting.

The essential problem with allowing Scots MPs to vote on English matters when English MPs cannot vote on Scottish matters is that no one, at any level of government, should be able to vote on matters that do not affect them or those they represent.

However, converting our form of government to a more appropriate, localized system will take so long that an interim settlement of the type proposed by Iain is necessary.

Anonymous said...

Here's a line from Dr King (David Trimble's former advisor) from his Belfast Telegraph column

"It is time MPs from this part of the world who are not nationalists started to campaign for an English Parliament before the Union they cherish crumbles before their eyes."

That's the analysis that I stand by. Make this a union of nations based on equality; a union of consensus and consent, or kiss it goodbye.

I refuse to have England sacrificed at the alter of Unionism - we're either given nationhood within the union or we go it alone.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if Mr. Trimble hadn't lost his own seat in 2005 his words might carry more weight.

Anonymous said...

I may be reading this wrong but following Trimble's line of thought, Scottish MPs were justified in voting for top up fees in England because of the impact that then has on Scottish higher education. As the years go on and funding improves in England the position in Scotland becomes untenable and the pressure is then on for the Scottish Parliament to increase the paltry graduate endowment.


Also to man in a shed- there are student loans in Scotland! And in the Student Loans Company is itself based in Glasgow.

I enjoyed Trimble's arguments and now intend to read the Hansard and commentary around the Irish Home Rule saga on different classes of MP.

Anonymous said...

preconference dinner of the Scottish Conservatives was this held in a phone box somewhere Iain as Scottish and Conservatives sound like ashtray on motorbike to me

Anonymous said...

So why not bring in free prescription chsarges in England as in Wales ?

It is simply that the mass of the population lives in England and having them put cream on the cake that they present to the Scots, Welsh and Irish is appreciated by those digesting this rich present from the somewhat stupid neighbour paying all the bills

I like this override - I should like to have a 20% top-up on any salary earned at Goldman Sachs M&A Department please.........

Anonymous said...

Re the Scottish (top-up fee) system.:-
for information purposes:

shows that whilst we do not pay top-up fees up front we still pay into the system, the payment is simply deferred.

This took 30 seconds to find via google. May I recommend some of you drop that particular agenda and find out some facts before you (thanks Anon 3.47pm) spruke it to everyone else?


Anonymous said...

Scots m.p,s with scots constituents voted on top up fees for the English!! Wrong and very unfair!!

The Barnett formula( remember when it was introduced?? a long long time ago!) allows free care for the elderly in Scotland whilst I will have to pay £25000 per year!
Wrong and unfair? of course it is!

I have a plan. When the old people in England realise its time to be taken into into care move to Scotland buy a house and pay rates up there. It will then be free and there is not a thing anybody can do about it.Free care would,t last 5 minutes.

The majority English tax payer provides more generous allowances to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Why?

Its a thirty year old economic formula that requires modernising!

Please dont reply by talking about Scots oil (by law its United Kingdom oil) or Welsh coal or whatever Northern Ireland can think up!(terrorists)Just stop sponging off me.

wonkotsane said...

The trouble with these self serving idiot politicians is that all they can say is "you can't have an English parliament" but they never come up with a real solution to the WLQ.

EVoEL? Won't work in practice and even if it did it's still not the same as having a government with loyalty to England and able to introduce legislation on devolved matters.

Status quo? Sorry, not a chance. We can't continue like this.

Nobody ever says why an English parliament will break up the union. The Scottish Parliament hasn't, nor has the Welsh Assembly. Why can they not see that the status quo is damaging the union beyond repair? And if the union is that fragile and the benefits of the union so few that all it would take is equal treatment of the English for it all to fall apart, is it worth the inordinate amount of effort required to keep it going against the odds?

Why is an English Parliament required? Because the English are discriminated against all the time. MP's that aren't elected in England run the country. England subsidises the rest of the UK (North Sea gas & oil does not cover the Scottish budget deficit). England is being split into regions - a national parliament will bind the country together. Finally and most importantly - more English people want an English parliament than EVoEL or the status quo.

We want it, we need it, we deserve it. Let's have it.

Anonymous said...

Despite them being led by an anti-English snoot, I am considering voting for the Conservatives in the next GE. The reason is very simple.
A Conservative (British) government is the quickest route to getting rid of Scotland. After that, the rest will be easy.
But be warned - any independence deal with Scotland - or Wales or NI - done through the British Parliament, will be considered illegal. Independence for any of the nations can only be negotiated through sovereign national Parliaments.
No one in England will ever accept Scotland negotiating independence with Scottish MPs in the British Parliament.
David Trimble can say what he likes. No one will pay him the slightest bit of attention anyway.

Anonymous said...

I see numerous problems with Mr. Trimbles Remarks

1 If acquiring clear voting rights over ones own country was as irrelevant behind the scenes as David Trimble suggests then the people he should have convinced are the Scots and Welsh . Manifestly , and unsurprisingly ,they were not prepared to allow their self determination to be safeguarded by courtiers , whose modus operandii might change at any time. Nor should we .

2 The advantage to David Trimble of such an approach, is that is little known and implies that wiser heads than my own are safeguarding the interests one sees betrayed (notable over Student loans). In other words it is ,to some extent, the introduction of extraneous complexity to cow debate . Gordon Brown is the acknowledged expert here, and it is faintly sad to see a good man reduced to such depths . As a politician in Northern Ireland, he knows better than I do how entirely beside he point constitutional sophistry is . I would hate to repeat who this kind of adversarial ad hoc argufying reminds me of. Think Northern Ireland.

3 A not unconnected point is one politicians and other insiders often forget . This is that democracy is not just a matter of votes . It is defined by a community of agreement of the terms of debate and the effect of votes . It is therefore a hopeless cause to begin to argue, that in ways the English do not understand, they are not at a democratic deficit . This may sound like an abstruse point but again someone with a Northern Ireland perspective knows quite well that this is far from an academic insight.

4 In many ways this is only a restatement of the traditional Conservative case that any move to wards devolution will precipitate the end of the union by causing the creation of an unsustainable dispensation ( See Barnett formula). I can see entirely why “man in a shed” sees this as an argument from fifteen years ago . The thought of the break up of the union no longer scares or even concerns English voters . Dire warnings that we will be at the mercy of this or that weak international accord confuses size with strength . A brief period in the commercial world would cure Mr. Trimble and others of that misapprehension.

5 Perhaps I am the only one with sufficient bad taste to make this point . Never mind . David Trimbles concerns are not the Union or the English . He has particular interests in the future of Northern Ireland and represents no constituency which would provide any ballast for his views on England . More to the point anything he says has a provenance such as to unacceptable to a disinterested debate .

6 . Tapestry ,feels that the media have conspired to stoke up English Nationalism . The only sense that this is true is in the sense that the contrary point of view has been so ridiculously accepted within the BBC that it has tended to have the opposite effect. Incidentally the reasons for he BBC`s opposition to English independence are entirely to do with their own vested interest in the political dispensation , not the union. English Nationalism has an English character and as such is not unduly “nationalistic”. It is less concerned with gesture and bravado than the Scots, in particular, and more to do with adjusting the constitution to reflect the realities of the electorate. As a Conservative one wishes to Conserve but also to renew.

For these reasons and others we must move carefully towards final separation in a Westminster context. If , as David Trimble claims, that is only making explicit what is implicit, then he can have nothing to complain about, and the voter much to be thankful for

Anonymous said...

uxpljxx...the English are discriminated against all the time.

I see wonkotsane has missed his true vocation, which is to be a comedian. One of the main driving forces that led to the (re)-establishment of the Scottish parliament was the way in which the English have discriminated against the Scots for as long as anyone in Scotland can remember.

The very fact that the English kept (and indeed still keep on) referring to 'England' when what is really meant is 'Britain' is not in itself important, but symtomatic of an attitude. For instance, if an English sportsman does well, he's 'English', according to the BRITISH Broadcasting Corp., but if a Scot does well, he's 'British', yet "Scottish' if he does not do so well.

And from 1707 'till devolution, English MPs were able to outvote Scottish MPs on every last single Scotland-only issue that came up. That was wrong and unfair too, if you object to the present arrangement. To balance things up, we should leave things the way they now are for about another 290 years. (Only kidding.)

The reason (to answer his actual question) why an English parliament is actually a nonsense is that the Westminster parliament we have right now already IS an English parliament. If you doubt this, go read the Act of Union of 1707.

The REAL problem in England is the lack of proper devolution. There is the GLC, which is or could be a London parliament, and there is the failed Prescott attempt at a regional assembly in the North East--but then, everything Jabba the Blob tries fails.

That should not blind us to reality, which is that Ulster, Scotland, Wales, and Greater London have all got a semi-federal devolved government to a greater or lesser extent as we speak, and the rest of England does not: THAT is the real problem. And an English parliament as such would not address it: you've already got one!

Anonymous said...

David says he does not have a sentimental attachment to the WL question - he's right if England gets its own Parliament it will immensely weaken NI and his and his suporters position. This is much more than sentiment. To confuse power with sentimentality for Tam is a complete nonsensical attempt to deflect the argument.

Another poor attempt to deflect the argument is to try blur policy making in "Whitehall" with "English". As I read through this argument I am struck not by its weakness but by either the delusional or sophistic nature of David. It's an immensely poorly structured argument.

Again he says devolution does not make a difference to the WL questions. David this again is more than just a weak argument it a nonsense. Devolution is the WL question.

Then David wraps it up with a self congratulary "Let us han an end to this" as if he has placed some impeccable logic on the table.

I am sure you will see more delusional or sophistic denials from others in his position in fture.

Personally I couldn't give a t*ss whether we're in the UK or England - but I really can't let 3rd rate arguments like this go unchallenged.

The phrase that comes to mind when I read this argument is that the WL question is making the case against "Regional Gerrymandering"

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter the rights or wrongs of whether the UK braks up; we cannot have an Irish, Scottish and Welsh parliament, while having an all encompassing parliament where these others can vote on issues that does not affect them, while England has no parliament.

Democracy dictates the English must have their own parliament for balance, or alternatively Scottish and Welsh MP's cannot vote on English only matters.

I don't find the issue complicated in the least. Would Labour and the Liberals be as happy with the present situation if they were not the dominant politcal parties in Scotland and Wales?

This needs addressing and the Tories should not be afraid to address it, certainly not to maintain the power of Labour in Scotland and Wales with the threat of the breakup of the UK. If the end result is a weak and broken UK, then who is to blame? Who pushed for the minority set up of the Scots and Welsh parliaments?

Anonymous said...

Off topic in a sense:There is nothing stopping David Trimble from running for a Tory seat in England- we need this guy at Westminster. The Party should speak to him.

Anonymous said...

ken from gloucester, you're talking twaddle:

The Barnett formula (remember when it was introduced?? a long long time ago!) allows free care for the elderly in Scotland whilst I will have to pay £25000 per year! Wrong and unfair? of course it is!

Uh, no it's not.

The Barnett formula has nothing whatever to do with Scottish devolution; it had been in place for years before that happened: as you already seem to know, if you stopped to think.

All the Scottish parliament can do spending-wise, is move around the money there would have been anyway under the old pre-devolution arrangement, to spend it 'more here, less there'. They happened to be in favour of free care for the elderly, but they funded it by cuts elsewhere. There was NO extra money for the purpose.

Devolution has replaced central allocation of the SAME AMOUNT of funds from the UK government with deciding for themselves where to put it. This may be a novel concept for you. It's called 'democracy'.

If there was an "English parliament' (as if there was not one already) it would go zero way to redressing a non-existant imbalance in spending (at least in so far as there may be more spent per head in Scotland, there always has been, devolution or not) or, more to the point, local spending decisions being made locally. For readjusting the balance, you need, not a pointless English parliament, but local parliaments like those that already exist in Scotland, Wales, Ulster and (almost) Greater London.

THAT's the problem, and THAT's the solution.

Anonymous said...

All this nonsense falls away if you ask the simple question:

If a parliament is right and a right for Scotland, why is it not right and a right for England?

Replace Scotland with Wales or Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, or Kenya and the question is still a clincher.

Trimble's piece is insulting in its time warn attitude that England is only a political construct to deliver his oligarchic view of democracy: to him it is clearly not really a country at all.

Anonymous said...

How about all money raised in Scotland is spent in Scotland and all money raised in England is spent in England? I know this isn't as simple as it sounds but it would at least establish the principle that each part of the UK should fund itself.

Anonymous said...

^ The problem with that is that Scotland is actually considerably poorer than it lets on.

An English Parliament seems to be the obvious idea. Yet, with Jack Straw on the verge of creating elected peers with bigger salaries, it would be difficult to justify yet another spending of taxpayer's money on politicians.

The simplest solution would be to abolish the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly and simply strengthen local government. Alas, I doubt it would be a vote winner in the west or the north.

English votes for English matters seems to be more reasonable than an English Parliament. However, I don't see the West Lothian Question being solved between now and 2010.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm struck oil at last!! The Barnett formula does help Scotland in providing free care for the elderly.

There are not enough Scots tax payers to be able to afford it!

The system could be destroyed in seconds if the elderly from England moved to Scotland to save themselves £25000 per annum.They can of course do this if they wish and there is nothing Scotland could do to prevent it!!

Unless they do vote for a split.That of course is another story!!

Love to continue the debate but leaving for Tobago in the morning
which I can afford to do because of my final salary pension provided by the Government.

I am also serious about moving to Scotland when the time comes!!

By the way free care for the elderly was only recently introduced in Scotland.Look it up

James Higham said...

...Superficially he appears right when he says that it is wrong that a Scots MP can vote on English matters but an English MP cannot vote on Scots matters...

It's far from superficial - he's right that it's wrong.

Man in a Shed said...

First a correction: Yes you got me there on Student Loans - should have said student fees !

My comments on financial irresponsibility north of the boarder are based on inside knowledge - which I can't go into. You just have to make up your minds on that. (Its worth noting that the Scottish Parliament has tax varying powers - but just doesn't need to use them, despite being dominated by left of centre parties ).

Can I hazard a guess that 2br02b is not English ( most likely Scottish )? My point is that all those who keep lecturing we English on why we don't deserve equality of representation and respect, seem to be those who fear they have most to loose if that happens ( ie Scottish and Irish men ). Odd that. I think they are wrong - they stand to gain a stable and fair Union, rather than suffer its loss ( Torque's comment is spot on here).

By the way I still ask the question if the Union breaks up who gets (ie has to pay for) Northern Ireland and for that matter Wales ?

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand why we need a union.

Anonymous said...

Can I hazard a guess that 2br02b is not English ( most likely Scottish )? My point is that all those who keep lecturing we English on why we don't deserve equality of representation and respect, seem to be those who fear they have most to loose if that happens ( ie Scottish and Irish men ). Odd that.

Man in a shed:

(1) Yes, i'm Scots. I'm sure I've said so before now around here.

(2) Compared with true devolution for the English regions, which is what I think makes sense, a single English parliament would (a) solve nothing as it simply would be duplication of the existing Westminster parliament and (b) therefore be the exact opposite of treating the English with equality of representation and respect.

Mind you, the English always have been a particularly thick breed--as many of the comments on this topic testify--so maybe they'd fall for it. But then we Scots have been saving the English from themselves for hundreds of years now. We call it "missionary work".

As for the Scots receiving more government money per head than the English: that was the deal back in 1707. And it was a reason for Scots objections to the union, from Day One:

As Robert Burns wrote of the Act of Union:

"We're bought and sold for English gold,
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!"

But the deal has been to mutual advantage, all the same:

The Scots provided the brains and the English paid them for that.

And based on what one reads around here, clearly the English are not ready for independence yet.

Anonymous said...

"Compared with true devolution for the English regions, which is what I think makes sense,

Words fail me ! Oh good words have now reappeared.

Listen Mac Dimwit your bottomless stupidity could hide a fair sized monster
1 Why should Scotland remain a country and England be reduced to rationalities of Europe ?
2Do you not know that the use of Regional Assemblies has been to remove electoral accountability by splitting responsibility in ways incomprehensible to the voter ?
3 Have you noticed how the GLA have been used as a buffer between evil Town and Country planning housing policy and its writers ?
4 Have you noticed it is yet another way of removing creditability from Councils who everyone agrees should have more power?
5 Are you not aware the whole point of detested regional authorities was to remove England’s ability to object to being “integrated “ into a sub state of the EU?

Oh you would love that wouldn’t you , you float free and continue to suck out our life blood via the EU and we are reduced from a nation to a non descript area of the ground . You like the GLA!! You like it .?You approve of the Prescott regional fraud! Go back to your suburb of Edinburgh and take tea with your mayther and recite third rate novelty act Rabbie Burns to each other. You assume you can be deeply offensive to the English as you please . Those days are over , and the oil belongs to the Shetlands.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, newmania.

Your peurile dross has just proved conclusively that the English (if they're all like you) are not ready for self-government yet.

Anonymous said...

Scale. Five or six million people is a decent size for a regional government; Scotland, Wales, London, etc etc etc. An English parliament isn't nearly local enough to provide effective government.

Anonymous said...

English and Tory, I say that David Trimble is right.

As Conservatives, it is on constitutional issues above all else that we should profess a conservative tinge to our thinking, liberal on other issues that many of us are.

The fact that Labour has, with ill placed ideological zest, changed our constitution, does not mean that the Tories also need to jump onto the bandwagon. Pause to think is what is needed, and David Trimble has the issues exactly right.

How many of those Tories of you who favour an 'English parliament' have been to Northern Irelaned, Scotland or Wales where you have had a few beers or whatever with some of the locals ?

The bottom line is this: the Conservative Party either jumps onto the bad line of 'English parliament' little Englandism, leading to the end of the Union and 1001 problems induced by that; or conservatives live up to their name and decline to do Labour the favour of completing their project.

Anonymous said...

A pretty feable case put forward by Trimble,pretty well what you would expect from a politician trying to defend dissproportionate amounts of resources going to minorities.

Maybe he could answer the question why English further education students should be discriminated against with top-up fees,whereas as those from Scotland & Wales attending local universities are exemmpt from top-uop fees?

Maybe Trimble was unaware that Foundation hospitals were never going to be introduced in Scotland,but Scottish MP's votes ensured they were dumped on us.

I would have expected something better from Trimble.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11.43


Absolutely. My point, said so much better. Thank you.

David Lindsay said...

The Barnett Formula has always been the real issue: since public services are the entitlements of citizens, who are demeaned precisely as citizens by being denied them, so the Barnett Formula is an unconstitutional denial to the people of England of equal citizenship of the United Kingdom, and thus a breach of the Treaty and Act of Union of 1707.

Here in the North East, we feel this very keenly, looking at the much higher public spending in the far wealthier South East of Scotland, which is largely so wealthy precisely because of that spending.

The whole thing seems based on the premise that there are no rich parts of Scotland and no poor parts of England: a relative tells me that Scottish audiences actually walked out of showings of Billy Elliot, refusing to believe that such parts of England had existed even in the early 1980s, never mind today.

Furthermore, practically everyone in Scotland, including the Tories, believes axiomatically that Scotland keeps England rich and herself poor by sending her oil revenue south to the tune of one billion pounds per month.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps if Mr. Trimble hadn't lost his own seat in 2005 his words might carry more weight."

It is totally unfair to have a go at David Trimble for losing his seat at the last election.
He is a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his efforts to end the Troubles, and he lost his seat because he was willing to lift his head out of the Unionist sand and try to deliver peace.
He was betrayed by the IRA, who did not keep to their part of the deal. The Unionist community got scared, got angry, and voted in droves of Paisleyite DUP goons. Watch the likes of Sammy Wilson or David Irvine contribute in the House and you will wish the DUP would boycott Westminster too. The province is now more divided than it ever was, the SDLP are hanging on by their fingernails against a Sinn Fein wipeout.
To hear Trimble, who was also a senior law lecturer at Queens University Belfast, make his views known on an important constitutional issue is welcome. I don't agree with him, but cut him some slack