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The answer to the West Lothian Question is to stop asking it

23 August 2013

11:45 AM

23 August 2013

11:45 AM

Here we go again. It’s time for an English parliament! Actually, it’s time for a new Act of Union! Says who? Says Michael Fabricant in today’s Telegraph. Mark Wallace at ConservativeHome agrees English votes for English laws! 

Well, fine. It’s a respectable, even laudable, view. But, as we shall see, it is not a very conservative view at all. It may be rational but that alone should be make Tories sceptical of its merits. At best the creation of an “English parliament” within Westminster solves one small anomaly at the cost of creating another, much larger, one.

In any case, Fabricant has his history wrong. For instance, he writes that:

My constituents see their health and education services voted on by MPs who, because of devolution, are completely unaffected by that legislation. While there isn’t an appetite for yet another tier of government in the form of a separate parliament, there is a demand for only English MPs to be able to vote on English laws.

Emphasis added. But this has always been the case. Scottish MPs have voted on matters that did not affect their constituents for decades. For the most part, all devolution did was put parliamentary clothes on the skeleton of long-existing administrative devolution. There is no British health service or British education system. A Scottish MP voting on an English education bill in 1980 was no more affected by that legislation than one voting on an education bill in 2010.

What devolution did do was make it impossible for English MPs to pass legislation that only affected Scotland in areas such as health or education. The arithmetic is simple: there may occasionally be times when Scottish MPs make the difference to votes on bills affecting only England; before devolution English MPs could always  – if they were so minded – “over-rule” the wishes of Scottish MPs on bills affecting only Scotland.

Now you can argue that this did not matter much in the pre-devolution age since there was but one elected legislature on these islands (though, as so often, there was a Stormont exception too).  The government was elected to govern all parts of the United Kingdom and it did not matter if it did not command a majority in each part of the realm. That, in fact, was the Tory argument. It was tenable, though also unpopular. It was all part-and-parcel of the crazy, often anomalous, British way of doing things.

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Back then Scotland was “over-represented” at Westminster. And, I think, reasonably so (though I would say that, wouldn’t I?) That is no longer the case. So the likelihood of Scottish votes determining English laws is already much reduced.

But it takes no great powers of imagination or analysis to see how unworkable an English parliament is. Suppose you did create one and only English MPs could vote on so-called English laws? What would happen?

Well, you might easily find yourself in a position in which the government enjoyed a majority when considering health and education but in a minority whenever attention turned to defence, foreign affairs, welfare or the budget. There are, you see, relatively few English-only matters. It is hard to see how this guaranteed instability would be an improvement upon the present state of affairs even if you take seriously the hypothetical possibility of England being “governed by Scotland”.

Now it is true that matters could be arranged differently. Real Home Rule – or devo-max – might change things. Fiscal autonomy for Scotland (a good idea!) would reduce the need for equal Scottish representation at Westminster. But it would not remove the need for that representation. Foreign policy – including european policy – and defence would remain matters for Westminster alone.

It is true that people have sometimes wondered what might happen if “England says No”. Well, I can tell you what will happen: Alex Salmond and the nationalists will win more votes in next year’s referendum than they might otherwise have done. John Wilkes’s descendants are recruiting sergeants for nationalists north and south of the border.

So be careful what you wish for. Logic – or at least a superficial consideration of the matter – might support the creation of an English parliament but when was logic ever supposed to govern Toryism? At best, Fabricant’s notions solve one tiny and rare problem while, almost certainly, creating a much larger and more common difficulty. There are any number of things in the British constitution that make no sense; fixating on one small example of this at the expense of the bigger picture makes no sense either.

I realise that this is unsatisfactory. So be it. So are many other things. The best – if still imperfect – answer to the West Lothian Question is simply to stop asking it. Ignoring it won’t make it go away but leaving it alone causes less trouble than addressing it. And first, do no harm is supposed to be a Tory principle.

There is no pressing need to address this issue anyway. Not least since it is plainly an attempt by Conservative backbenchers to mess with the constitution for purely partisan advantage. This too will cause more trouble than it is worth.

Perhaps Michael Fabricant is intensely relaxed by the prospect of helping Alex Salmond but he might pause to reflect if that is what he really wishes to achieve.

 


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Show comments
  • http://brandwebdirect.ca/ Jhon Mourish

    Nice blog. Keep sharing.

    http://www.brandwebdirect.us

  • http://brandwebdirect.ca/ Jhon Mourish

    Great blog. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Trevor Alan Bell

    To have a simple principle that MP’s can only vote on issues that affect the people who elected them into office, is the only just solution.

  • mhjames

    Fine. Let’s have no policy on Syria either.

  • justejudexultionis

    It’s clear from comment threads such as these that the ‘union’ is dead in the water. Let’s have done with this constitutional farce that holds both countries back.

    SAOR ALBA AGUS SAOR SASAINN CUIDEACHD.

  • Ian Chisholm

    What’s nonsense about leaving the Middle East to sort its own problems out. Seems like Mr Heekian2 has a severs case of imperialism.

    • Wessex Man

      erm, I think you might be on the wrong thread here.

  • Gareth

    You’re right Jambo25 in my enthusiasm I couldn’t think a wall any closer so I guess I would have to volunteer to build a new one with the money the English taxpayers would save by Salmond achieving independence.

  • georgebrown

    I take it that this guy is a scot?

    • Wessex Man

      which one?

  • rogue1707

    The sooner this union is ended the better for all of us.

  • John

    “The answer to the West Lothian Question is to stop asking it”

    actually, the answer is to ask it and then ask it again 10,000 times until the British governing class allow England to be herself, in her own country, with her own parliament – for the English- and her own political, economic and social dialogue about ENGLAND- shorn of all those shrill parasite countries which have drained us all these years-

    – and not to be diverted and confused by all that British stuff which has occupied us and debilitated us for so long.

  • Gar5_1

    Asian countries for Asians.

    Black countries for Blacks.

    but White countries for everybody?

    That’s GENOCIDE!

    Anti-racist is a codeword for Anti-White

    • Wessex Man

      do get out more.

  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    I have always wondered why the West Lothian Question was given such a ‘poncy’ name.

    I think we should create an independant nation that maintains our racial identity.
    All those in favour say Aye.
    Those against go and live in Scotland

    Item 1 on the agenda: what to do with the public schools.
    Item 2 ALL arts subsidies to be removed.
    item 3 ALL trendy PC liberals to tarred and featherd.

    hehehehehe

  • Gareth

    Would Alex Salmond like any English volunteers to rebuild Hadrians wall to a height of 200ft as I would be glad to donate my time and energy to the project..

    • Jambo25

      Once again. Hadrian’s Wall is entirely within England. Have you asked whether the populations of northern Northumberland and Cumbria wish to be part of Scotland?

      • Wessex Man

        don’t be a silly billy, we are coming up to the 500th anniversary of their reply on the 9th September, you siily billy you.

  • Slicer

    terregles2 is a malignant troll.

    • Wessex Man

      here here!

    • Jambo25

      Strange, I thought she was politeness itself compared to the really malignant headbangers on here.

      • Wessex Man

        Come on admit it you and tergles2 are Mr Church and Ms Postern aren’t you go on go on admit it!

  • Sanctimony

    And Alan Massie’s next three card trick will take place on 18th September 2014.

    • Jambo25

      Alan Massie is a Brit Nat Unionist. Do keep up.

      • Wessex Man

        No he’s as determined as you to keep your influence in Westminster.

  • terregles2

    Poor Mr Massie in spite of all his praise for the English cricket team and all things English. In spite of his denigration of Scotland and all things Scottish he seems to be as unpopular with the readership as every other Scot in the world who happend to have been born north of the border.

  • Wessex Man

    This is so typical of Mr Massie, back in June, he delivered the heartbreaking story of Selkirk in his article. Lessons in Localism from Selkirk Past.

    The sad story of the death of Scotland’s King James and 10,000 men in one of the biggest Battles fought in Britain in which the last King of an invading force was killed.

    What he didn’t mention was the at the time King James of Scotland was implicated in the death of his father, was excommunicated by the Pope, had sent his Navy to help the French blockade the Italian States in the War of the Holy League. He decided to invade England whilst King Henry was in France fighting the French and that he was defeated by a smaller English Army.

    So how is this defining moment in history, which crippled Scotland and led in the end to the Union to be commemorated on it’s 500th anniversary on the 9th September, well in a very small way. The Lottery Fund is giving £887,000 for an eco-museum to be spread over three sites including one in Scotland.

    The Scots will then be celebrating The Battle Of Bannockburn 700th anniversary next year with a Lottery Grant of £3.9 million and a Scottish Government Grant of £5 million.

    I wonder what sort of programming the BBC will be devoting to the two Events?

  • Ricayboy

    Independence for England!

    • terregles2

      Independence for England….bring it on.

  • http://atoryblog.blogspot.com Man in a Shed

    Ignoring the anti-English bigotry of Labour devolution stitch up is just to have the question answered by someone else, as the question will always be begging for an answer. It is of course really the English question and ideally the answer would be a federal UK , but the political class’s preceded answer is to balkanise England into artificial regions and divide and rule.

  • mutton

    Alex Massie (born 1 July 1974) is a Scottish journalist. A freelance journalist based in Edinburgh,
    ===================================Surprise—Surprise this is England’s problem!! Another Scot poking his nose in English affairs. Alex, you have a country, it needs all the help it can get. Tell Salmond how to run Scotland and leave England to the English. The only downside of an English parliament would be control of our own purse and Scotland would have to feed itself. AND about 300 years too late.

    • terregles2

      Time for all Scots and every other nation to keep out of English politics, English independence is long overdue and is the only answer to all this silly bickering.
      English independence now.

  • JamieEngland

    So a man who has his own parliament in Scotland tells the English they do not warrant nor need one because he is fed up with the WLQ being asked? …………………………………Whatever next? Massie is another nonsensical naysayer without a valid argument for or against. Maybe he should just shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    • terregles2

      Don’t be too hard on him. He speaks very highly of all things English.

  • http://www.englishstandard.org/ Wyrdtimes

    “Here we go again. It’s time for an English parliament!”

    Here we go again? Is an English parliament being discussed by UK MPs in the media all the time? It strikes me that is not the case. It’s rare enough for a UK MP to even say “England” let alone to discuss an EP. Not that Fabbo mentioned an EP, neither did Wallace for that matter.

    Politics is supposed to be about principles. One of those principles is that those who make the law are accountable to those who live under those law. Scottish, Welsh & Northern Irish MPs have more say on English law than they have on law in their own counties – that’s not right.

    The case for an English parliament isn’t just the need to do something about the WLQ though. It’s also about the UK’s misrule of England.

    All England’s problems are due to UK parliament. There’s the UK parliament’s extended mass mass-immigration policy into almost exclusively England. There’s the disgraceful “temporary” funding arrangement the Barnett Formula. There’s the knock on effects into all areas of service provision where the English in general pay the most and get the least back in return.

    When in opposition Fabbo voted against introducing tuition fees – when in power he voted to increase it to £9000 per year for English kids (like those in his constituency) only. The UK parliament doesn’t work in the English interest and Fabbo’s voting record shows that as well as anyone’s.

    The case for an English parliament isn’t just about the WLQ or grievances over shabby treatment. Fundamentally it’s about a better future. An English parliament working in the English interest will be better for the English. Devolved parliaments/assemblies have been good for Scotland, Wales and NI – course the higher funding helps but the big difference is MPs who work in the national interest. The English deserve nothing less than that.

    “There is no pressing need to address this issue anyway.”

    That might depend on whether you want the “Union” to last or not. You might not have noticed up there in Scotland but increasingly the English want out of this so called Union altogether.

    The decidedly Anglophobic IPPR puts the figure for the English wanting independence at 34%

    A ComRes poll for BBC Radio4 a couple of years ago put the figure at 36% (rising to 47% for C2s the skilled working class).

    On top of that in the census of 2011 58% of the population of England and Wales identified as English ONLY. 19% identified as British only.

    What do you think those figures were 20 years ago? Considerably less I reckon – like 2% or 3%.

    There’s your pressing need to address the English question. Do so or see the English continue to dump Britishness. No amount of royal weddings/births/jubilees or Olympic game propaganda can counter the continual anti Englishness of the current arrangement and when the English have had enough that’s the “Union” finished.

    Finally, isn’t it just time for some fair play?

    England has been out of the loop for far too long: http://www.englishstandard.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/asymmetric-devolution-ud.jpg

  • Slicer

    Why do so many Scottish commentators keep telling the English we can’t have an English parliament all the while wanting more powers for the Scottish parliament? I’m sick of the Scottish quite frankly, English politicians always have to quell the Scottish small man inferiority complex and tip-toe around in case the Scottish get upset (they’re very sensitive). England should have it’s own parliament and keep all English taxes to spend in England.

    • HJ777

      Remember that these Scottish agitators are in a minority in Scotland – a noisy minority, but a minority all the same. Most Scots, i.e. the silent majority, don’t share their views.

    • terregles2

      Nobody tells the English thay cannot have a parliament. I am in favour of Scottish independence but also think England should have independence. It would be fairer for all of the UK to be independent.
      Anyone can start up an ENP party who stand on a independence for England ticket. You would probably win and then would not have to bother about Scotland Wales or Northern Ireland.
      If I were English that is what I would want.

      • Wessex Man

        you little porker you, you have ben told by myself and a couple of others on these pages that Gordon totally ignored our petition when handed in to Downing Street. Stop telling lies!

        • terregles2

          You will never get English independence by handing in a petition. You have to form a political party the ENP just as Scotland formed the SNP.
          The ENP will campaign for independence for England if enough people vote for them they will win power to Westminster they will then send the Scots, Welsh and Northern irish MP’s back to their own countries. England will then be independent. It will be much better for all of us to be independent no more WLQ problem.
          I think the idea of English independence is catching on and more and more English people would vote for an ENP party if some people formed one.

          • Wessex Man

            If you got out more rather than spouting your triite comments here you would know that there is Campaign for an Enghlish Parliament in England and that UKip has a policy proposal for the next General Election for an Englsh Parliament, please don’t join, I would hate to think of a troll like you joining.

            It’s been such a long slog because of the Scottish dominated New Labour Government 1997-2010, with Gordon Brown ignoring our petition and the the Speaker squecker Michael Martin giving us permission to march across the front of the House and then not telling us but getting the Police to divert us away from the House all the way over to the Embankment and kettling us and the dispersing us!

            Then of course there’s Daivid Cameron ‘I’m proud of the Scottish blood coursing through my veins’ proming an English Council but never getting around to it, aided and abetted by Clegg-over and his Lib/Dems whose senior Scottish Members all also signed the Scottish Claim of Right.

            You Scots didn’t get a Parliament by the efforts of people like you who can’t even talk a good fight, it was real people on the ground from the 1940s onwards who did that! We’ve only had 15 years to catch up against an ever hostile Labour and Conservative background.

            Your opinions are of course invaldated by your actions in going back over several days and editing your views when you have it pointed out you are, as usual talking nonsense!

    • terregles2

      You are right. Time that everyoone else in the UK left Westminster and let the English get on with running their own country.
      England should have independence it is nothing to do with anyone else what England wants. I want Scottish independence and I think it is only fair our friends and neighbours in England Wales and Northern Ireland have the same.

      • Sanctimony

        Wittering on about your English friends again and being so simperingly coy and patronising !

        • terregles2

          I haven’t wittered about any friends nor have I been patronising. You seem to carry a lot of anger and resentment around with you. Chill out it’s not good for your health.
          England should be independent many English people seem to want it. When the SNP started they had very little support now a lot of people vote for them
          A party offering English independence could build up the same support in England. We live in a democracy and England deserves the same choices as every other country.

          • Wessex Man

            You drip self satisfied patronisation with every comment even when you get them totally wrong, it seems to me the anger is always OK with and your loony friends to express but it we English had better not, or woe betide us!

            The sad thing about all of this is that English people who read your comments will be turned against the average Scot, who is nothing like you.

        • Slicer

          Once England gains control of itself she’ll find out who her “friends” are.

      • Vrai écossais

        Independence from what? London is hardly representative of say Cornwall or Durham, economically, by religion and by race.

  • Alf

    It is up to the English people ONLY about an English Parliament, it is they who are best to answer this. They have been discriminated against, democratically abused and Taxed on behalf of the Devolved countries by the UK for too long. England needs her own full national Parliament now, the Union does not work for England, no other option is acceptable.

    • terregles2

      You are right. English independence now….

  • IndependentEngland

    At the 2010 general election England returned 298 Tory MPs and only 235 Labour, Lib Dem and Green MP’s. So the Tories had a majority of 63 in England. But England ended up with a coalition government responsible for the English NHS, English Education etc. etc. That’s why we need an English Parliament Alex Massie. A parliament elected by PR on the Scottish Model so that the wishes of the English voter are truly represented.

    • Jambo25

      And from the late 50s to the late 90s Scots were constantly being subjected to Tory governments we didn’t vote for. So, get off your behinds and do what we did. Agitate for an English parliament. Just stop pretending that you aren’t getting one because of the awful Scots.

      • HJ777

        Come on.

        Only for two years (1964-66) between the 1945 and 1974 general elections was the party in government in the UK not also the most popular in Scotland.

        • Jambo25

          But that was not the case in 1970-1974. It was not the case from 1979 to 1997. It has not been the case from 2010. In terms of MPs, rather than popular vote it wasn’t the case from 1959-1964.

        • terregles2

          The idea that a majority of Scottish people voted for 11 years of Thatcherism is the funniest thing I have ever heard. Thanks you are a tonic. What a laugh.

          • HJ777

            I’d be interested to know where you think that I suggested any such thing.

            Even the majority of people in England didn’t.

            • terregles2

              I blame it on the Portuguese myself.

              • HJ777

                That’s about as accurate as your last claim.

                • terregles2

                  Still more accurate than your Thatcher/Scotland claim. That has got to be the best ever.

                • HJ777

                  You mean the Thatcher/Scotland claim that I didn’t make and which is purely a figment of your imagination?

                  That one?

                  I have made no comment whatsoever about voting in Scotland during the Thatcher period. In fact I didn’t even mention her.

                  You are quite, quite, mad.

                • Wessex Man

                  You are so so correct!

                • HJ777

                  She’s a fantasist.

                  In her world, whatever she wants to believe is true and whatever she claims about other people is true.

                  Facts and evidence are secondary to her opinion and are wrong if she wants them to be wrong.

      • IndependentEngland

        I don’t blame the Scottish. Who do you blame for Scotland being subjected to Tory governments it didn’t vote for from the 50’s to the 90’s?

        I do agitate for an English parliament. The SNP was formed in 1934 but it took until 1998 for Scotland to get its own. Even then it was Labours doing not the SNP. We English are relative newcomers to this but it won’t take us 74 years!

        • Jambo25

          We’ll see. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was you.

        • terregles2

          I hope you are right. England should be independent.

          • Wessex Man

            Your views are invalidated by by you being you.

    • mightymark

      Those of us who believe in keeping together one of the greatest countries in history rather than balkanising it, believe these are minor factors compared to the supreme importance of that. And in case the view is new to you I am saying no more than I tell the SoctNats who come here to moan about the fact that since 1945 we have had 6 more years of Tory rule than Labour (the latter of whom they don’t much like anyway!).

    • terregles2

      I quite agree with you.

      • Wessex Man

        get out more!

  • th43

    Alex Massie. One of a long line of Scots who think it is ok to tell the English not to make a fuss over the WLQ… it’s only democracy after all

    • terregles2

      The cheek of him…!!!!

  • http://toque.co.uk/ Toque

    The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Question asks why Brown, as a representative of a Scottish seat (although the Question would have been equally applicable had Brown represented a Welsh or Ulster seat), should be able not only to vote on policy matters affecting England alone, but also design and control the policy agenda for England. Devolution to Scotland of responsibility for major ares of policy such as health, education and housing, meant that Brown’s own constituents would not experience policies developed for England, unless such choices were voted for by the Scottish Parliament.

    • Jambo25

      So no future PM or UK Chancellor should ever be a Scot representing a Scottish constituency?

      • Wessex Man

        Why yes of course, you will be an independent nation next year won’t you?

        • Jambo25

          If Toque’s idea is pushed we certainly would be. Very quickly.

      • IndependentEngland

        Not in the present set up. That’s why we need an English Parliament,English government and English First Minister.

        • Jambo25

          Then bloody well set one up. Star pushing your English pols to agree to it.

        • terregles2

          Full English independence you are right. It’s not fair that England is not left to get on with running England. Indpendence from Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland will be much fairer for England and the other countries as well.

          • Wessex Man

            I have now sussed it Jambo25 and terregles are the Mr Church and Ms Postern of the Big Scottish Politics!

      • http://toque.co.uk/ Toque

        Not while they can vote on and dictate English policy over areas where the concomitant legislation is devolved to Scotland.

        When we have an English parliament and government, then it will be acceptable for a Scot to be PM. Quite frankly I think MPs elected outside England should be barred from Cabinet positions (excepting Secretaries of State of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) until the asymmetric democracy that Labour ushered in is sorted out.

        There’s certainly no way that someone elected in Scotland should have any ministerial role in a department whose portfolio is English or mostly English (Health, Education, Transport, Environment, etc).

        If this is unacceptable then a compromise would be to have 10% of the Scottish Parliament elected in England, so we could elect people to interfere in and pervert Scotland’s domestic politics.

        • Jambo25

          You realise that you are then supporting a break up of the UK. Welcome to the cause comrade.

          • http://toque.co.uk/ Toque

            Alex Massie is supporting the break up of the UK, the above article is testimony to that fact.

            I, on the other hand, am prepared to see if it can be reformed. If, however, the likes of Massie hold sway and England is left without a national voice, then it should be broken up for the good of democracy.

            I take a purely pragmatic approach. I’m English, not British, so there’s no emotion. The Union has its uses (economic and political) but the negatives for England far outweigh the positives.

            I find it extremely unlikely that Scotland can get the level of home rule that it requires unless England also gets self-government and we move to a federal system.

            • terregles2

              England should have full independence the same way every other country does.
              It will be fairer for England.

              • http://toque.co.uk/ Toque

                If the people of England want independence, then they should have it; if they don’t, then some form of Union.

              • Sanctimony

                Oh, do shut up… does your patronising know no bounds ?

                • terregles2

                  Oh do shut up…? Is that your response to the suggestion of English independence.
                  Many people think English independence would be really good for England. if you are hostile to the idea then try to put your point of view in a more rational manner.

                • Wessex Man

                  He’s telling you to shut up because he knows you what you are.

        • terregles2

          Independence for England asap. You are right.

      • HJ777

        Just think. Had you had your wish, Brown would probably have been in charge in Scotland. The UK saved Scotland from that fate.

        • Jambo25

          I didn’t realise that Brown was thinking of joining the SNP.

    • Derick Tulloch

      Health, Education and Housing have always been devolved to Scotland. The Scottish Health Service, based on its predecessor the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, has never been part of a ‘UK’ NHS. The Scottish education system predates the Union by several centuries – James IV brought in Scotland’s first Education Act in 1496. Housing has always been devolved, because Scots property law has remained in force throughout the period of the Union. All these and more predated the 1999 ‘Devolution’ – they were just controlled previously by a cabal at the Scottish Office

      • http://toque.co.uk/ Toque

        They were always separate, but that’s not the same as being devolved. So you’re wrong, sorry.

        • Derick Tulloch

          Splitting hairs. The point is that Scottish MP’s have always been able to vote on matters that affect people in England, but don’t affect their own constituents. Nothing has changed in that respect.

  • Stephen Gash

    Here’s a novel idea. Ask the English what they want, in referenda, concerning an English parliament and English independence. All we seem to get is Scots telling us what they think is best for us. Using the same rules as applied to Scotland and Wales for their devolved chambers, England would certainly have its own parliament. If we had one then all the British MPs would instantly be made redundant just as they are in the rest of the UK. This is why Michael Fabricant and the rest of the MPs oppose an English parliament. Their Expenses Express Train would hit the buffers.

    By the way there are no English MPs. There are British MPs who are fundamentally anti-English. A perfect example of this flagrant Anglophobia is the recent deflection of £700 million of EU cash earmarked for England away from England to the Celtic Fringe, “for the sake of the Union”. The MP who crowed loudest about this was Michael Fallon, a Scot with a constituency in England, of which there are around thirty more. Being a Conservative he would have a cat in hell’s chance of being elected in his native Scotland. Nevertheless, he thinks putting his own country before his own constituents is a jolly good thing. There was barely a grunt of complaint about this blatant robbery of English folk, from any MP, regardless of party.

    Why on earth Fabricant believes English people would accept English votes on English laws beggars belief. Nothing would change because BRITISH MPs in England would still make decisions with one eye on the rest of the UK. They would NOT focus on England. The only change would be a fig leaf of accountability.

    It’s the attitude of MPs that matters, and quite clearly they place England and the English firmly out of site. If we had 5000 MPs of the same ilk instead of 500 or so, the problem would be ten times worse for the English, not ten times better.

    Replace the unelected 825 Lords, that do not scrutinise the devolved chambers anyway, with an elected English parliament. A Grand Committee could convene to oversee reserved matters like defence. If that doesn’t work, then the English would miss the Union like a hole in the head.

    • Jambo25

      This Scot and all the other Scots he knows couldn’t give a toss what you do. If you want an English parliament get off your collective behinds and agitate to get it. Pretty much what we did up here.

      • th43

        Except you didn’t.

        Scotland only ever returned a few SNP MPs for decades. The only reason you had either referenda was because Labour saw a partisan advantage to ring fencing Scotland.

        It backfired spectacularly, but without it, you’d still be whistling in the wind

        • Jambo25

          The SNP were not the main pushers of Devolution. They had to be persuaded to come on board. If you want to know what was behind the advent of Devolution try watching Iain Macwhirter’s excellent 3 part series on ITV.

      • Wessex Man

        What a load of rubbish, you got your own Parliament because ALL THE LABOUR MPs WHO WERE ELECTED IN 1997 HAD SIGNED THE SCOTTISH CLAIM OF RIGHT IN THE 1980s IN WHICH THEY HAD COMMITTED TO PUT THE INTERESTS OF SCOTLAND ABOVE ALL OTHERS!

        We got off our behinds and agitated thank you and delivered a petition to Downing Street which was ignored by one Gordon Brown, who just happened to have previously signed the Scottish Claim of Right!

        Get your facts right you Anglo-phobe

        • Jambo25

          Why do you think a previously hopelessly split Labour Party signed up for Devolution so solidly? Partly it was Thatcher and Thatcherism but mainly it was the fact that Scottish opinion was solidly in favour of the move because very large groups and organisations had spent well over a decade agitating for it. By the early mid 1990s the vast bulk of civic Scotland was sold on the idea. The only large political/civic organisation which didn’t accept it was the Tory Party. What happened to it in Scotland?

          • HJ777

            At the last general election the Tory party achieved a very similar share of the vote in Scotland as the SNP.

            • Jambo25

              The SNP are the government of Scotland and appear to be maintaining a healthy lead over other parties. Where are the Tories?

            • terregles2

              Did they really?

              • HJ777

                Yes, as did the LibDems. Only about 3 percentage points between those three parties.

                • terregles2

                  If you know where any tories are in Scotland do let us know. Most of us have never seen one apart from that small group huddled in a corner in Holyrood.

                • HJ777

                  If you don’t know where there are any, it just shows how little you know about Scotland.

                  Perhaps you should try visiting some time?

                • terregles2

                  It’s because I am here that I know. You are so intolerant of any opinion that you do not share you make the accusation the I don’t live in Scotland. Poor you is that the best that you can do.?

                • HJ777

                  You know nothing of the sort – you’re simply wrong.

                  That’s why it’s unlikely that you go to Scotland very often.

                  One is six Scots votes Tory – and you’re claiming there aren’t any Tories in Scotland.

                  It has nothing to do with being intolerant of opinions I do not share. It’s intolerance of people like you who simply make up their own ‘facts’.

                • terregles2

                  You say one in six Scots vote Tory. At the last Scottish election Tories had a 13.9% share of the vote. You call that one in six the rest of us will call it what it is a tory wipe out.

                • HJ777

                  At the last General Election, the Tories received one vote in six in Scotland (16.7%). The SNP received one vote in five (19.9%).

                  Time for your next ridiculous claim about what I said, I think.

                  What will it be this time? That I said Margaret Thatcher sat for a Scottish parliamentary seat? That I said that cold fusion is a reality? I can hardly wait.

                • terregles2

                  No I don’t need to make ridiculous claims for you. You do not need any help in that.
                  You know that I don’t live in Scotland. How do you know that? Simply because you know everything. How can anyone tell where another person whom they have never met and is posting on a website lives. Well none of us can except you. How do you know that ?. Well simply because you know.everything.
                  You know what the outcome of the 2014 referendum will be. You know that most Scots are against independence and you know that almost as many Scots support the tories as support the SNP.
                  I was a bit disappointed that you did not tell me where I live. As your claims are becoming ever more fevered I was looking forward to hearing where you knew I lived. Still never mind I suppose you will continue to keep us all informed as to what will happen in the future and what is going on in Scotland in 2014 and beyond..
                  Doesn’t really seem much point in having a referendum now. Salmond should just have asked you what the 2014 result will be and saved anyone the trouble of an official count.
                  You should send your predictions and opinions to Ruth Davidson iand Johann Lamont it would cheer them up no end.

                • HJ777

                  Quote me one claim that I have made and demonstrate, with references, that it is factually wrong.

                  Or shut up.

                • terregles2

                  Just run your eye over your previous posts and you will see where you suggested that like Sean Connery I did not live in Scotland.
                  I will quite happily shut up not responding to your bizarre claims will be a pleasure.

                • HJ777

                  I suggested that it sounds unlikely. That’s a reasonable supposition since you claim that you don’t know where there are any Tory supporters in Scotland even though one in six Scots voted for them (not many fewer than voted SNP in the General Election)

                  In any case – prove that you live in Scotland.

                  Why did you make ridiculous and verifiably false claim that I said that Margaret Thatcher received majority support in Scotland? Nothing that you claim I said can be taken seriously. You are a fantasist.

                • terregles2

                  Prove that you live in Scotland…..Oh dear……what can I say. there is no answer to such a silly remark…….

                • HJ777

                  So you cannot demonstrate, with any reference to any evidence whatsoever, that any of my so-called ‘ridiculous claims’ are false.

                  I’m glad that we have cleared that up.

                  As there were apparently so many of them, I’m disappointed in you.

                  As for your claims – I found the one about what I supposedly said about Margaret Thatcher and Scotland especially entertaining, as it was complete fantasy (for which you do not even have the grace to apologise).

                  Fantasist.

                • nancledra

                  You’re equally tedious, HJ.

                • mutton

                  The best present a Scottish mother can give to her 16 yrs old ambitious son is a rear view mirror so that he can see his beloved homeland.

                • nancledra

                  Terregles2! You’re boring. I speak as a pro-independence Scot.

        • Jambo25

          I’ve got my facts right you paranoid Chauvinist twerp.

          • Wessex Man

            Quite apart from the obvious thing to ask you is what fact you have got right and which one you haven’t! Are you denying that all those Scottish Labour MPs signed your Scottish Calim of Right and as soon as they won the election they immediately formed a majority of the ‘New Labour Cabinet’ and one of their first acts was to set in motion the Devolution Act?

            You seek to refuse to answer questions by calling people idiotic names and only show your child like attitude!

            • Jambo25

              Oh dear, the man who called me an Anglopphobe accuses me of name calling. Wow!.

              • Wessex Man

                Why you ah erm you Scotish nationalist you, are you saying you love the English? no I rather think not, you are nearly as bad as terregles2, who when she realises she has actually put in to words what she was thinking and I’m chiding her for goes back days after and edits her comment. I wish you both the best of luck in your forthcoming referendum. You really do have win now or you are going to look such fools.

      • IndependentEngland

        I thought it was Labour who forced one down your throats. Two referenda wasn’t it? Let’s hope you are more enthusiastic about independence!!

        • Jambo25

          Labour reacted to pressure from below. They adopted Devolution in the mistaken belief that it would kill off the SNP. They were obviously wrong. Don’t let mere facts get in the way of your prejudices though.

      • Stephen Gash

        Six SNP MPs says you didn’t. You clearly forget that it was England-hating British MPs that gave you a referendum on your parliament in 1997. The same MPs that deny us English the same privilege. Believe me, we don’t care what you Scots do either, but we get Scots and Scotland rammed down our necks every day.

        That Scots voted the SNP into a majority in their parliament AFTER the English gave the Tories a landslide victory in ENGLAND is completely irrelevant. The fact is Scots have NO mandate to alter the UK and should not have until they return a majority of SNP MPs, that is 30, to Westminster.

        It’s not our fault the Tories profoundly betrayed England even worse than did Scots-led Labour. I suspect the Tories are toast.

        By the way, devolution was never intended to give more power to Scots. The sole reason for devolution was to break up England into regions and erase the most EU-sceptic country from the map. Indeed Scots-led Labour even drew the map where England had been expunged.

        England is not recognised as a country. A look at the British-Irish Council’s website exposes that fact. England is not recognised as a region either, which is why England has no direct representation in the EU, unlike Scotland and Wales. This is ONLY because England is in the United Kingdom, a political artifice we have never been asked about.

        • Stephen Gash

          Here are some quotes from prominent politicians, to show my assertion that devolution was designed to erase England is correct.

          Robin Cook, Scot, former Labour Minister “England is not a
          nation, it is just a collection of regions.”

          John Prescott, Welsh, former Labour Minister “There is no
          such nationality as English.”

          Charles Kennedy, Scot, Former Lib Dem Leader “In England regionalism is growing as never before, calling into question the idea of England itself.”

          Charles Kennedy again “Do I detect a certain schadenfreude among Scots at the apparent current turmoil among the English over their sense of national identity? ”

          • Jambo25

            None of these people repesent my views or the views of anyone I know. I’ll repeat: we couldn’t give a toss. Have your parliament. Have regional assemblies. It’s up to you.

            • IndependentEngland

              Vote for independence PLEASE!

              • terregles2

                I will vote for independence and I think England should form a political party that will stand on an independence for England ticket. I think you would have a good chance of winning power then you could have England an independent country. No Welsh.Scots or Northern Irish MP’s. in Westminster.
                I cannot understand why English independence is not more attractive to all mainstream Westminster parties.
                I and others in Scotland are campaigning hard for a YES vote but don’t rely on us, get organised and campaign for English independence just in case the worst thing happens and the YES vote in Scotland does not win.
                Good luck to all of us in the UK hopefully the time is not too far off when all the UK countries are completely independent.

                • Wessex Man

                  Ehen are you going to apologise for Alasdair Gray’s outburst? no not the one about Settlers and Colonists from 2011 the one from the Edinburugh International Book Festival, come apologise!

                • IndependentEngland

                  If Scotland votes NO I will cry and laugh at the same time. I will cry because England will continue to be lumbered with Scotland until such time as we declare independence. I will laugh because, despite all posturing about the poll tax, imposed Tory governments. robbed of oil etc. etc. ad nauseum, the Scottish people still didn’t have the bottle to go it alone!

        • Vrai écossais

          “The fact is Scots have NO mandate to alter the UK and should not have
          until they return a majority of SNP MPs, that is 30, to Westminster. ”

          The law courts have already proven that the Scottish Parliament has full legal power over Scotland, not the english Parliament in Londonstan.

          • Wessex Man

            We don’t have an English Parliament!

            • Vrai écossais

              Westminster is an English parliament in all but name to be honest. A fully English parliament based somewhere like Northampton or Peterborough sounds like a good idea, keeping Westminster as a federal capital with token departments there, the rest spread across the country.

              • Wessex Man

                Westminster is the seat of the UK Parliament with MPs from NI, Scotland and Wales debating and makind decisions on English matters the like of which they can’t in the country they were elected in. Mps from all four countries can also rubberstamp the laws and regulations jhanded down from the

                EU.

                I would not care where an English Parliament were to be held as long as we had one but would think Manchester or Birmingham would be logical sites.

                • Vrai écossais

                  You want English cities, not cities were 100 languages are spoken and the population does not reflect the majority, hence I thought of Northampton or Peterborough. Those regional cities reflect better the English population.

    • Ricayboy

      Hear hear!

  • http://toque.co.uk/ Toque

    Here’s a novel idea: Let the English decide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/martin.adamson.75 Martin Adamson

    “But this has always been the case. Scottish MPs have voted on matters that did not affect their constituents for decades.”

    Yes, and during most of that time it made very little difference because the balance of the parties in Scotland was generally in line with England. It is only since the 1980s, when Scotland tilted massively to the left and England moderately to the right, that this injustice has become most glaring.

    • Wessex Man

      Alex Massie is being delibrately misleading here he knows as, I expect most of the peop[le posting comments here that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland MPs can and do with the notable exception of the SNP and the non apearance Sinn Fein. They vote on matters that relate to England only with depressing regularity when they cannot vote on those very same matters in the countries in which they were elected.

      The West Lothian Question has now been turned into the English Question and has got to be answered. It didn’t matter that much before the Scottish Patliament and Welsh Assembly came into being but it does now.

      We English are being politically disinfranchised and and blagged!

  • Dennis Smith

    I appreciate the frank admission that Tories are, or should be, sceptical about rationality. But many of them also take a liberal or neoliberal line in economics, with a firm – maybe even fetishistic – belief in the rationality of free markets. Maybe a touch of cognitive dissonance here?

  • http://blog.widmann.org.uk/ Thomas Widmann

    It’s true it isn’t a solution to create an English Parliament within Westminster. However, a proper English Parliament and an English Government, elected separately from Westminster and with the same powers as Scotland, would answer the West Lothian Question.

    Of course, it would leave Westminster with just foreign policy, defence and macroeconomic policies, so it would need to be cut down drastically in size, perhaps to just 100 members or so.

    • Wessex Man

      Yes, typical Massie, yes a UK Parpliament of a 100 would do fine.

    • terregles2

      Best way to answer the WLQ is for all four UK countries to have full independence from each other. Problem solved.
      I cannot understand why there is no English party campaigning for English independence. Why are Cameron and Miliband coming to Scotland making speeches against Scottish independence. Time that a political party formed in England and stood on an independence for England ticket. Cameron and Miliband should not speak for the English people, Give England a vote for their own independence.

      • Sanctimony

        If only…

        Your breathtaking naivety and simple mindedness are quite astonishing.

        • terregles2

          Your rudeness on the other hand offers no surprises. Usually you older men have better manners.
          if you think English independence is a simple minded idea then some others don’t. Debate your point of view without being abusive.
          Personally I think England is a great country and it would do well with an English only government. Nothing to stop it being a reality if enough English people want it.

          • Sanctimony

            “You older men”…. I’m 33 years old… yet another example of your, warped, prejudging mindset which is yet further evidence of your political naivety and bigoted persona.

            Does it not occur to you that the tub of lard in Holyrood is stirring up the inbred Scottish hatred and loathing of the English as his only hope of getting a yes vote.

            The Scots, however, have a much higher regard for the pound in their pocket, outweighing even their loathing of the English and it is this that will define the Scottish electorate in September 2014.

            That aside, it will be a day of deep mourning in England when the Scots give a resounding No in the referendum on dissolution of the Union.

        • Wessex Man

          take no nonsense from this abusive person Sanctimony, in her world it’s only her and her cronies who are allowed to throw insults!

  • Hayekian2

    And for his next trick, Alex Massie solves the Middle East by telling us to ignore it? Even by Massie’s standards, this is self-serving nonsense!

    • AlfTupperDarlin

      Sorry, but ignoring the Middle East makes a lot more sense than ignoring the way we are governed. How we are governed is our problem. The Middle East is not.

  • NeilMc1

    And we could stop the police arresting criminals and there would be no need for prisons. As usual, what a stupid and bigoted argument from Massie.

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