English are victims of Celtic Imperialism…

Put this in the class of seeing things from the other end. Derek Draper argues that the dragon the English need to slay is its own disenfranchisement. The existence of devolution elsewhere has vastly increased the amount of legislation which applies to England only, and yet Scottish, Welsh and NI MPs re-represent number that far outweigh Blair’s majority. He argues that if the next likely PM, Gordon Brown doesn’t take steps to address this, his Tory successor surely will:

They accept that devolution is here to stay, but can also see that the current system is unfair. William Hague has already gone on record to demand: “English MPs should have exclusive say over English laws,” and David Davis, the shadow home secretary, supports an English parliament. “The people of England deserve nothing less,” Davis insists, “than the same choice as the people of Wales and Scotland.”

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  • Martin

    These debates kind of forget, leaving aside issues of culture and ethnicity, how big and diverse England is compared to our neighbours. The republican/nationalist stereotype of a Brit has precious little grounding in your straight talking Tyke, slightly surreal Geordie, cheeky Cockney, cider drenched Devonian, bizarre Brummie etc etc etc.

    Whereas a comparison between Scotland and Ireland may be validly made comparing either of those with England is just not comparing like with like. You can’t relate the issues facing those nations of about 5m people with one of 50m people – our capital city is bigger than either and nearly as big as both combined.

    It is hard to see what benefit would come of getting the Scots, Welsh and NI MP’s out of the chamber when “English” issues are discussed. Also impractical as the Welsh Assembly can, at present, only pass secondary legislation. From experience, someone from Morningside in Edinburgh has more in common with a liberal from Hampstead than he would with your average Geordie or Scouser. People from Kent are as likely to see eye to eye with someone from Manchester as they are with someone from Dublin 4.

  • slug

    One thing I would like to see is an elected (or 75% elected) house of lords, and I was glad to see that there is now talk of this. I see this as a very important constitutional reform, as it would give a check on the lower house, especially if elected by PR. This would give a larger say of NI / Scottish /Welsh MPs (because it would be in a state of no overall control.

    I would also like to see this upper house scrutinising the legislaion from the devolved assemblies, there is no scrutinising chambers for the latter and the lords could do this for the devolved assemblies in the same way as it does for the commons.

    As for a separate English parliament, that’s a UK-level question, a question not just for the English. The DUP voted for Blairs school reforms because what happens in England influences and establishes a precedent for what happens elsewhere.

    The MPs of Westminster have the power to suspend any of the devolved assemblies. Think of Westminster as the main committee, and think of it having delegated Scottish and Welsh, and potentially NI issues, rather than having given them up.

  • fair_deal

    Draper hasn’t read Brown’s Brishness speech. He didn’t just talk about Britishness but outlined the need for further constitutional change in the UK.

    It also overlooks that Blair’s reforms did offer English Assemblies as a counterbalance but this had to be abandoned after the English in the North-East voted against it.

    The voting on English only legislation is a godd sabre rattler but would make a constitutional muddle an utter mess.

  • Following on from the ironies of Celtic Imperialism, supporters of an English Parliament campaigned against regional assemblies because it would partition England.

    There’s also the fact that regional assemblies wouldn’t amount to legislative devolution like that in Scotland.

    Labour’s answer to the Westlothian question is ,in the words of Lord Irvine, ‘don’t ask it.’

    However, it is being asked with increasing frequency because it is a genuine question of democratic principle, which has already had practical consequences for the people of England in the shape of top-up fees and foundation hospitals.

  • Tally

    fair_deal “It also overlooks that Blair’s reforms did offer English Assemblies as a counterbalance but this had to be abandoned after the English in the North-East voted against it”. They have not been abandoned they are being imposed still.
    http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/5723
    There is plenty of public opposition to these assemblies, but precious little political opposition.The tories pop up now and then and whinge about them but do little else to stop prescott.

  • fair_deal

    Cheers Tally

  • dodrade

    Much as I dislike Scottish, Welsh and Irish Nationalism, the most ludicrous of all are English Nationalists who claim that the aforementioned are oppressing them!

    They would have celebrated St George’s day yesterday, but they prefer to complain about the mysterious forces of Political Correctness who apparently try to stop them.

  • PHIL

    Martin,

    Don’t you think that England has just as much right to self-determination as our smaller neighbours. If you think that the differences between a Cockney and a Geordie are greater than the differences between someone from Inverness and Glasgow, Cardiff and Anglesey, or even Bangor and Derry, then you obviously haven’t been to any of these places. There is no stereotype that all the people of England fit into, but that is not a reason to deny us our democratic right to govern ourselves without inteferance from outsiders.

    Fair-Deal,

    The people of the “north-east” (that’s the counties of Northumberland, Durham and the bit of Yorkshire next to the River Tees to most of us) voted against regional devolution because only the government wants to see England broken up into regions that have no relevance to peoples lives. The present government created this mess, it’s about time that they sorted it out.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with the principle that the English should be able to make their own decisions, affecting England only, without people from outside voting on them.

    The problem with a single English assembly/Parliament seems to be that it would probably come too close to emulating the powers of Westminster, and the problem with regional assemblies is that it seems the government would have bother drawing lines that have any meaning. Not sure that the difficulty of the puzzle should put them off trying to solve it though.

  • Brian Boru

    As I want to see the Tories remain in Opposition because of their past (and probably present) bias towards Northern Ireland Unionism, I welcome Scottish and Welsh MPs having votes on English matters.

  • Brian,

    If the Westlothian Question is addressed, it will stop Northern Ireland MPs from voting on English issues as well. The Orange card would therefore lose much of the value it has had for the Tories over the years.

    Even if there were a Tory Administration in England, it would not have any powers over Northern Ireland, and it would not necessarily change the balance of power in the union Parliament.

    Supporting the status quo is effectively trying to put one over the unionist parties, by promoting the essence of unionism.

    That is the divide and rule game of patronage that the the British establishment have traditionally played to maintain their multinational state.

    Preventing the English governing themselves will not stop British Ministers exercising unaccountable powers at Stormont, if anything it will only give them political cover.

    For the first time in its history, the British establishment is facing growing demands for more autonomy from every nation in the union.

    Irish nationalists should not be the ones to let them off the hook.

  • PHIL

    Brian,

    “I welcome Scottish and Welsh MPs having votes on English matters.”

    Why?