Tory ‘English nationalism’ has nothing to do with fairness

Cameron and Hague: When Cameron speaks, Hague's lips move.

Cameron and Hague: When Cameron speaks, Hague’s lips move.

Ed Balls has it right; according to the BBC he said there is no “simple solution” to the current situation regarding English devolution, as most of the tax and spending decisions he would take if he was Chancellor would affect the whole of the UK.

This is a consequence of England’s population size, relative to the other UK countries. England has more than 80 per cent of the UK’s population – with three times that of Scotland in London alone.

“There is *no* change to English tax, public services, inflation, employment legislation, company law, trade union law… that *does not* affect Scotland,” according to a comment quoted in the recent Skwawkbox blog article on this subject.

So Mr Balls said: “I think David Cameron is just trying to dupe people with the idea that he has got some easy, quick political fix. You can’t play political games with our constitution.

“The danger is that the Conservatives are now going to completely destabilise the fairness, accountability and stability of the union by suddenly trying to play an English nationalist card.”

Balls was responding to comments, especially by William Hague, that devolution was necessary to bring “fairness” to the UK.

As you can see, that is not the case – quite the opposite, in fact. The Tories want to convince the public – especially in England – that the only fair thing to do is change the structure of the UK Parliament, to make it possible for English MPs to vote on matters affecting only England. If the other Parliamentary parties refuse to accept this, then it will become a general election issue.

Hague – on the orders of his puppet-master David Cameron – is hoping that English devolution could help win the next election for the Conservatives.

If that happens, then the English voting public will deserve them!

Let us reiterate:

1. There are no matters discussed in the UK Parliament that affect England alone.

2. Even if there were, it would be unfair to change Parliament in order to bar Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs from voting. English MPs were never asked to accept being banned from voting on matters affecting Wales – that country was given its own assembly instead. If an England-only legislature were demanded – silly though such an idea may be – then it would have to be created separately from the UK Parliament – either as a single body or a series of regional assemblies. That would be, in fact, the only fair way to do it.

The fact of the matter is, the Tories want English MPs to decide such matters because, in an English-only Parliamentary sitting, they would command a 59-seat majority and could therefore run roughshod over the English people in any way that suited their fancy.

Do not accept for one moment any claim that they would govern for the good of the country. We have seen, over the last – long – four and a half years, that it simply is not in their nature.

So, if anyone asks you whether you support the idea of an English Parliament, tell them it should never be done with existing English MPs, and even if it was, its decisions would affect every other part of the UK anyway. Once a way is found to negate that effect, it might just be acceptable for members to be elected to a separate body – or bodies.

It’s only fair.

Oh, and by the way: Isn’t it nice to see Cameron and Hague backed into a corner by Ed Miliband, U-turning like mad on their position over powers for Scotland? “Commitments to Scotland would be honoured,” said Hague.

After Ed Miliband’s “No ifs, no buts” speech, what else could he say?

Commenters may wish to attack the viewpoints expressed above. If you do, please address your argument to the points raised above and make sure you have a reasonable argument to make. If your gripe is “everyone else has got one (assembly) so why shouldn’t we?” your comment won’t see the light of day. Life’s too short.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
bringing you the best of the blogs!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

6 thoughts on “Tory ‘English nationalism’ has nothing to do with fairness

  1. sean

    I’m not sure “everyone else has one, why shouldn’t we?” is a totally unreasonable position. An English Parliament would be for purely “internal” English matters, just as the Assemblies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are for their internal matters. Those decisions *may* effect other countries in the union, but really, so what? Decisions taken in the assemblies of the other countries of the union can affect England, no one uses that as a basis for why they shouldn’t have them. If Scotland had voted Yes to independence, that would have very much affected all other countries in the Union, yet they were still “allowed” to have a referendum.

    Really I can see no logic in the position that England should have less government representation (which by virtue of having no assembly of it’s own, it has) simply because it has a greater population. That would, on the face of it, seem to run counter to logic.

    That isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be an overall UK Parliament, which goes without saying surely? I don’t understand how the two are mutually exclusive.

    Frankly an English Assembly (or preferably several, since as you note England has the largest, and most diverse population, local government should be local) would be good for the UK as a whole. If we’re going to federalise lets do it, devolution is just a hackneyed Frankenstein’s monster of an idea used to appease without giving too much away. If local government is a good idea, it’s a good idea for everyone.

    It’s about time we redefined the Union for the modern political reality of Britain, and a good start would be devolution of local matters to local assemblies for all of the people of Britain, and a new UK parliament, far from Westminster.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It seems there are no purely ‘internal’ English matters, as we are told decisions that affect England also affect the other countries in the UK, due to the sheer size of the English population when compared to the others. Your attitude to that – “so what?” – is worrying.
      The other point I would make is that the devolved assemblies and Parliaments of Wales, Scotland and NI have no sovereignty of their own and Westminster can easily override their decisions if MPs choose to do so. Therefore any claim that those legislatures have more power than Westminster is false.
      I don’t think anyone was saying that an English assembly would mean there would be no need for a UK Parliament.
      What do you think of devolving more powers to English councils?

  2. prinderella

    You’ve raised a very key point in this that most people will have missed (myself included, until you mentioned it): the current government has only said that they want England-only legislation to be determined/voted on by MPs from England only. No where in any speeches that have been given to date have they even hinted at the concept of having an England Assembly separate from Westminster.

    Being an American living in the UK, I have to admit that I have some bias where all of this goes; of course I have a natural predisposition to a system of government that would allow local/state representatives to make decisions for their own areas, but also allow representatives from those areas to also vote collectively on a federal level. To me, it just makes good sense, though I know that even that system of governance is also far from perfect.

  3. Florence

    I view anything that the Tories say with extreme caution, and especially when the start deploying their 1984-speak.
    Fairness= fair game for the rich, as we all know from the welfare state changes.

    Reorganisation for the better = NHS decimation and privatisation

    Localism = strangling local services through spending cuts

    etc.

    This proposal is no different. We will all be poorer, less democratically governed, and while claiming to be creating parity with the devolved assemblies, will be an attack on them too. Labour needs to develop a better narrative, after gaining the high ground with the commitment to Scotland.

    I hope this is a good start to the Tory conference, along with all the other lies & more lies wrapped up in the ineffable self-righteous air of the self-serving upper class open for exposure and rebuttal.

    (As they have already sent the UN security fences to Calais, what will be deployed at the Tory conference now, to keep the great unwashed away? Ah yes, bring on the Boris water canon…….useless for defending the rest of us, perfect for defending the few……)

Comments are closed.