Much talk continues in the media of the ‘inevitability’ and supposed fairness of ‘English devolution’ – which is nothing more than a cynical Tory attempt to neutralise the 58 out of 59 Scottish MPs who are not Tories, preventing them from hindering the Right’s plans to further strip away vital supports from vulnerable and ordinary people and making it far harder for a Labour government to achieve good in government or resist Tory predations in opposition.
The purported logic behind this effective coup is that, if the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the right to decide issues such as health and education spending and (in the case of Scotland) to raise revenues, ‘then it’s only right’ that English people have the ‘freedom’ to decide on so-called ‘England only’ matters.
But this is a complete red herring, because there is no such thing as an ‘England only’ issue.
This was highlighted and elaborated by an excellent comment by a reader called ‘Pete’, who runs another blog:
The false premise behind all these comparisons between England and Scotland (and Wales and NI) is the assumption that they are in some way comparable: they’re not. England has 80-odd percent of the UK population, London alone has more people than Scotland and Wales combined. Scotland’s GVA per capita looks good – ranking it 3rd behind London and the SE in English regions – however is only the 6th UK region by gross GVA – behind 5 English ones. Those disparities mean there is *no* change to English tax, public services, inflation, employment legislation, company law, trade union law … that *does not* affect Scotland. A reduction in English VAT, for example, would instantly have an adverse affect on Scottish manufacturing, retailing, pay rates and more. Because of its relatively very small population and economic activity, the reverse is not true to any meaningful extent. England is 80-odd percent of the UK changes there will always affect the other 15/17 percent – i.e. Scotland, Wales, and NI.
The media, from the BBC to the vast majority of the written press, appears to be completely (deliberately?) ignoring this very obvious fact in their coverage of this issue and are giving free rein to various right-wing politicians to voice this ‘obvious truth’.
They are also giving excessive weight to a handful of ‘blue’ Labour MPs who are shamefully supporting the right, such as Kate Hoey, who claimed that Labour should back the moves ‘even if in the short term it looks that it might be a disadvantage to our party‘, describing a few dissenters as ‘serious pressure’ on Ed Miliband.
Any such idiocy would not nerely be a disadvantage for the Labour Party. It would be an unmitigated disaster for ordinary or disadvantaged people in this country.
Before the Tories, with the collusion of their media accomplices, succeed in irreversibly framing the issue in completely false terms, Labour needs to start saying that in the most unambiguous terms in every media appearance and starting with their conference in Manchester now.