This morning’s announcement that Scotland has voted ‘no’ to independence is a narrow escape for the rest of the UK. While I have every sympathy with those Scots who want to put themselves beyond the reach of the predations of the right, a ‘yes’ vote would have been a disaster for every ordinary person in England and Wales.
The loss of 41 Labour MPs (and all but one of the rest from left-leaning parties) would have condemned the rest of us to longer and even worse periods of Tory-led government, with Conservatives feeling emboldened to accelerate and intensify their attack on the rights and support of ordinary people and especially the disadvantaged – and would have left Labour, the only realistic Parliamentary resistance, far less able to prevent them from doing so.
The loss of 41 MPs wouldn’t make a Labour majority impossible. But it would make it far harder to achieve and would mean Tory or Tory-led coalitions far more likely.
But the Tories are now aiming to have the best of both worlds – keeping the Union to appeal to their ‘little England’ members happy, while eliminating the impact of Scottish Labour MPs anyway.
Right-wing Tories such as Peter Bone and John Redwood have been pushing this week the idea of a 2-tier Parliament in which Scottish MPs would not be entitled to vote on ‘English’ issues. In his post-result speech this morning, David Cameron spoke of the ‘missing’ English piece of the devolution jigsaw puzzle and then:
So, just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues and all this must take place in tandem with, and at the same pace as, the settlement for Scotland.
Cameron’s speech announced that Lord Kelvin is going to ‘take forward’ the changes to the powers of the Scottish parliament, with draft legislation to be published in January.
So Cameron aims to have draft legislation on ‘English devolution’ ready at the same time – and will obviously intend to push it through before the election, while he has hopes of pushing it through – and specifically wants the freedom to decide what how little the rich are taxed and how heavily the poor and disadvantaged are penalised, without the ‘interference’ of MPs in territory he’s just been campaigning to keep. Meanwhile, the idiot Farage is inviting Scottish MPs to voluntarily refuse to vote on ‘English’ matters.
This is a staggeringly cynical attempt to eliminate the impact of Scotland’s near-absolute rejection of Tory ‘values’ under the guise of ‘well, it’s only reasonable’ and give himself and his fellows free rein to do whatever the hell they want – and that’s been bad enough for ordinary or disadvantaged people already. If the Tories succeed in their plan, may God help the ordinary man or woman in England – because we’ll need it.
Even more staggering is the apparent acquiescence of many on the left to this transparent manoeuvre. Dianne Abbott’s statement to Andrew Neil on BBC News yesterday that we have to accept the exclusion of Scottish MPs because ‘it’s the direction of travel’, as if there’s no option but to bow to jingoism and small-mindedness, is merely the most idiotic example.
There seems to be unquestioning acceptance that it’s logical and inevitable, and nobody appears to have identified what the ploy is really about.
That needs to stop. Write to your MP and insist that they resist this ‘draft legislation’ – especially, since they still, for a short while, hold the balance of power, if you have a LibDem one.