Tag Archives: devolution

New power-sharing deal restores NI devolution – in order to quit Johnson’s UK?

Devolution: The Tories will be quick to celebrate the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland. Has it not occurred to any of them that the Northern Irish hate Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and now want to quit the UK altogether?

At long last – three years since the ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal that ended the last Northern Ireland power-sharing deal, it seems MLAs are returning to Stormont.

The new power-sharing deal means devolved government in Northern Ireland will resume.

According to Boris Johnson:

Do you think he hasn’t realised that they’re all getting back together in order to take NI out of the UK?

What would be really damning is if they decided they won’t even reunify with the Republic.

Source: Stormont talks: Main NI parties agree power-sharing deal – BBC News

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Theresa May told huge lies in her Brexit speech today and everybody knows it

Lying yet again: I’m getting tired of using this image, but it remains the most accurate depiction of Theresa May’s attitude.

Wow. What a screw-up.

When you’re prime minister of a nation like the UK, giving a major speech on a subject that has split your citizens, it is highly advisable not to tell a huge lie about it if you want to have your way.

But that is what Theresa May did today (January 14).

She tried to co-opt the story of the creation of the National Assembly for Wales in support of her claim that Brexit must be enacted, despite the narrowness of the referendum result.

There are just three problems:

First, she said, “On the rare occasions when Parliament puts a question to the British people directly, we have always understood that their response carries a profound significance.” This is a lie.

After the Welsh Assembly referendum in 1997 produced a 0.3 per cent majority – smaller than that for Brexit, the Government of Wales Bill went before the Commons in December 1999 and the Conservative Party – including Mrs May – voted against it en masse.

Mrs May is using the Assembly referendum to support her Brexit policy, even though her own actions in that case were the exact opposite.

Not only that, she said, “When the people of Wales voted by a margin of 0.3%, on a turnout of just over 50%, to endorse the creation of the Welsh Assembly, that result was accepted by Parliament.”

While this is accurate, it is because the majority of MPs in Parliament at the time were members of the Labour Party. The Conservatives campaigned for a second referendum and included a promise to offer the people of Wales a second vote in their manifesto for the general election of 2005. They said that was the democratic thing to do, in sharp contrast with her current attitude to the EU referendum.

Finally, there’s the issue of what happened in the aftermath of the two votes. After the Welsh Assembly referendum, devolutionists worked hard to build “losers’ consent” – reaching out and addressing the concerns of their opponents.

Mrs May has done the exact opposite with Brexit. People who supported remaining in the EU were demonised as “Remoaners”, “saboteurs” and “traitors”.

These are fundamental flaws in Mrs May’s argument. She is revealed as a hypocrite and a liar. And everybody saw it.

(The quoted extract is from a version of the speech that wasn’t used – it seems Mrs May’s advisors realised that “both sides” did not accept the result of the Welsh Assembly referendum and modified it to say that “Parliament” accepted it. As already mentioned, this was because Labour had a majority.)

Evolve Politics goes into further details in an article here.

The only conclusion to be formed is that Theresa May doesn’t care about democracy and nor does her Conservative government. She wants Brexit for petty, selfish reasons that have nothing to do with the national interest or even with the wishes of Leave supporters – and her dire Brexit deal represents those narrow demands. If anything, her speech should reinforce opposition to her claims.

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Labour launches plan to attack political corruption

westminsterfromwater

If there’s one area of British life that needs reform, it’s politics.

Every day, Vox Political receives at least one comment from somebody saying that the system is corrupt and desperately needs an overhaul. Today (Tuesday, March 3), Labour is due to announce its plans for tackling this very issue.

The trouble is, of course, that many people are saying Labour is part of the problem.

The claim is that the party and its high-level members have a vested financial interest in keeping the system as it is – and the gravy train rolling along. How will Labour combat these?

Well…

There are plans to consult on new powers for the Speaker to tackle the worst and repeated instances of rowdy behaviour in the Chamber with a so-called ‘sin bin’.

Former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans described the idea as “rubbish”, pointing out that the speaker already has the ability to remove MPs in certain circumstances and has lots of discretion at present.

But the Speaker himself, John Bercow, has given a cautious welcome to the suggestion that MPs face a rugby-style “yellow-card” temporary ban for bad behaviour in the Chamber. Answering questions at a Hansard Society event at Westminster, Mr Bercow said: “I think there is merit in it, it’s not for me to decide, it’s for the House to decide.”

Other measures will be revealed at an event in Parliament, by Shadow Leader of the Commons Angela Eagle. They include:

  • Overhauling elections with measures including introducing votes at 16 and trialling online voting
  • Changing how Parliament works with a Prime Minister’s Questions for the public and a new process for law-making that gives people a say
  • Tackling vested interests by regulating MPs’ 2nd jobs and creating compulsory rules for lobbyists, and
  • Devolving power across the UK and replacing the Lords with a ‘Senate of the Nations and Regions’.

Some of these measures have already been trailed, like votes for 16-year-olds, public PMQs and regulation of MPs’ second jobs. One has been claimed by the Conservative Party, although Labour’s Austin Mitchell describes the plan for devolution to Greater Manchester as a “deathbed repentance by a government which had centralised continuously in a country that is over-centralised already”. He claimed that a concentration of power in London and the south-east of England “needs to be reversed so the rest of us can have a chance”.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Angela Eagle said: “The recent debate over MPs’ second jobs reminds us that so much needs to change in Westminster. When trust in politics and politicians is already at a record low, only radical reform will restore faith in our political process.

“Labour’s plan will deliver the reform our politics needs. We will reform the Commons to strengthen its ability to hold the government to account. And we will ensure our political system always puts people before rich and powerful vested interests.

“Our politics works on an adversarial system, but sometimes MPs take it too far and it turns the public off. A Labour government will consult on new powers for the Speaker to curb the worst forms of repeated barracking.”

This writer is particularly keen on online voting. It is to be hoped that the trials go well, so that this may help restore interest – and confidence – in democracy.

Does it go far enough? Undoubtedly people will say it does not – but at least, it seems, Labour will do something to arrest the corruption that seems to have seeped into the very bones of the Palace of Westminster (the building will be unusable within 20 years, it seems, unless expensive restoration work is undertaken).

What would you do?

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Labour’s new policies show it has been listening

He means business: Ed Miliband announces Labour's plans for business and industry at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands.

He means business: Ed Miliband announces Labour’s plans for business and industry at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands.

The Labour Party has announced a series of new policies intended to improve conditions for both small and large industries in the UK.

They are the latest in an apparently-unending flood of new policies to be placed before the public since the ‘long campaign’ began in earnest at the beginning of the year.

It seems likely that they follow on from a series of in-depth public consultations, such as ‘Your Britain’, that the party has always said would contribute to the shape of its 2015 manifesto.

For once, it seems, a political party was not lying!

Labour announced yesterday, “Ed Miliband will emphasise that Labour’s plan for creating wealth does not rely on just a few at the very top but on boosting productivity in every business and sector of the British economy.

“[He] will declare that Britain needs a better plan for prosperity than the Government’s failing plan which relies on allowing the most powerful and wealthy to do whatever they want.”

Crucially, the party is emphasising that “this modern industrial strategy is a different approach for Labour than in the past because it seeks to support working families not simply through tax-and-spend redistribution but by building a more inclusive prosperity.”

Here are the key points, as described by Labour:

Labour will back small businesses and new entrepreneurs who will provide the growth and jobs of the future.

·         Cutting business rates

·         Improving training and apprenticeships

·         Promoting competition in energy and banking to ensure market efficiency, lower bills and better access to finance

·         Handing more economic power to every part of the UK with £30 billion of devolved funding

Labour will back our biggest exporters which need certainty to invest:

·         Staying in a reformed EU and not taking risks with our membership

·         Building a strong economic foundation with a tough and balanced approach to cutting the deficit

·         Making long-term investment by implementing the Armitt Review recommendation for a National Infrastructure Commission

·         Guaranteeing Britain has the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7

·         Promoting long-termism by changing the rules on takeovers

Labour will back our big employing sectors such as retail and social care by tackling undercutting, with firms coming together to raise productivity and standards: 

·         Industry led bodies to raise productivity, like we have now in the car industry

·         Banning exploitative zero hours contracts

·         Raising the National Minimum Wage closer to average earnings  – £8 an hour by 2020

·         Offering tax breaks to employers who adopt the Living Wage

·         Making it illegal to undercut by exploiting migrant workers

Labour will back every sector of the economy by ensuring the public sector plays an active part in driving up productivity by: 

·         Recognising its role in supporting cutting-edge innovation and research

·         Making strategic investment and procurement decisions

In a speech at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands, Mr Miliband was expected to attack the current situation under the Conservative-led Coalition government: “When working people are held back, the country doesn’t prosper as it should. When families don’t have money to spend, it holds back our economy.  When there is so much insecurity in the economy, businesses can’t plan for the long term. When people don’t have the chance to develop their skills and pursue a promotion, our companies become less productive and less competitive in the world.”

He was expected to promise support for both small and large businesses: “The jobs of tomorrow will come from a large number of small businesses, not simply a small number of large ones. Our plan recognises that. We will have a fairer tax system, keeping corporation tax the lowest in the G7 for large businesses, but also cutting and freezing business rates for smaller ones. We will create a British Investment Bank, supported by a network of new regional banks and more competition in business banking on the high street, to help small businesses grow. And a new Small Business Administration to co-ordinate work across government to help small businesses succeed.”

There are also plans to decentralise power, moving it away from London, and to help businesses plan for the long term.

That’s a lot of information to absorb in one go. What do you think of it?

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Not tartan Tories, but the SNP have learned from ‘divide and conquer’ Tory tactics

scots2

Look at this – the Tories are proposing that Scottish MPs will not have the power to set Income Tax rates outside of Scotland, as part of devolution. This means Scottish MPs won’t be able to set any Income Tax rates at all, as Scottish taxes will be set by the Scottish Parliament.

This is an annoying complication for the system, created by the Tories in response to the plans for Scottish devolution. It is divisive on many levels. People in Scotland and the rest of the UK will be watching rates in each other’s territories like hawks, ready to complain at the slightest sign that they are getting a worse deal. Scottish MPs will effectively have less power than their counterparts in England, Wales and NI – will they be happy about that? The Welsh and Northern Irish will be pushing for similar powers, that would give their own MPs less power than those in England. People in England might just be unhappy that their Income Tax rates will be set by Conservatives, who hold more seats in England than anyone else. And Conservative MPs are already saying that Scottish MPs will still have too much influence.

Resentments will grow – but isn’t this what the Scottish National Party wants? Hasn’t it learned that the best way to have its way is to divide the opposition?

Isn’t that why SNP adherents have been spreading lies about the Labour Party north of the border? Claims about pensions, the Vow, working with the Tories and who knows what else are always made as bald statements because there is no evidence to support them, other than that they don’t lead to a fully independent Scotland.

Divide and rule – it’s an age-old Tory tactic. We all know that super-rich bankers caused the crash that provided George Osborne with his excuse to impose austerity on us all. But the Tory lie is that the previous Labour government overspent, and the Tory tactic has been to victimise claimants of unemployment and disability benefits under the pretext that they are skivers and scroungers. They’re not – these benefits are correctly claimed in 99.3 per cent of cases.

And pensioners have all this to come from 2016, if the Tories retain office in May!

Note that the measures proposed by William Hague today fall short of the English Parliament that many people wanted. The Tories know what they’re doing, you see – they want to spread resentment against the Scots. It’s the “Us” and “Them” mentality.

Note that Labour wants a cross-party investigation into the matter. No doubt the ScotsNats will call that “weak” if they get the chance.

So why this strategy by the ScotsNats?

Are they trying to irritate the rest of us so much – by their own admission they don’t think they have any influence on national politics, so this must mean they can only be an irritant – that, sick and tired of their nonsense, we end up declaring, in Cromwellian tones, “In the name of God, go”?

How would Scottish citizens who haven’t been seeking independence, and who haven’t been causing such annoyance, feel about being cut adrift with the rest of them?

And how would the rest of the world treat an independent Scotland whose leaders (and their supporters) had been shown to have been acting in such a childish way?

It seems to this writer that this divide-and-rule strategy marks the Scottish Nationalists as far too similar to the Tories than either would care to admit.

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‘New Scottish powers’ Bill published – but is it any good?

The Smith Commission, which included members of the SNP [Image: PA].

The Smith Commission, which included members of the SNP [Image: PA].

Today’s big news has to be the publication of draft legislation to give the Scottish Parliament more powers – in line with the recommendations of the Smith Commission and three days ahead of the government’s self-determined deadline, Burns Night.

As Vox Political has previously reported, the Smith Commission was set up to find ways of enacting the promises made by the UK’s unionist political parties in what has since been dubbed ‘The Vow’. It reported back in November with recommendations that, in fact, added and expanded on those in The Vow. Scottish Nationalists condemned the report, claiming the opposite – that promises had been “watered down”.

It is worth noting that the Smith Commission gave equal representation to members of all main parties in the Scottish Parliament, including the SNP, and its recommendations were supported unanimously.

The new draft legislation is written in a form that seems to go out of its way to demonstrate that it is taking nothing away from either the Smith Commission recommendations or The Vow. It is available for download here.

This blog is not going to offer an opinion on the draft legislation at this time. Instead, readers are invited to download the document, compare it with what was offered, and then provide an informed opinion in the ‘Comment’ column.

Be aware that “It’s a load of pish” is not an informed opinion; if you disagree with any part of what is on offer, you should state where the offending passage can be found and how it diverges from what was promised.

Does the offer live up to the promise?

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Their own ‘ridiculous conditions’ are ruining Tory plans

zwestminstertricks

The Conservative Party is accusing its Coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, of playing “Westminster tricks” by scuttling a backbench Bill supporting an in/out referendum on the EU – but it seems more likely that the Tories’ own politicking is to blame.

The Yellow Party has retaliated by claiming the Tories were attaching “ridiculous conditions” to the Bill that made it unsupportable, and this seems much more plausible in the light of David Cameron’s reaction to the Scottish referendum debate.

Remember the morning after Scotland voted to stay in the UK? Cameron stepped up to the cameras and promised to deliver the new powers to Holyrood that he and the other UK political leaders had promised – as part of a package that included devolution for England.

Nobody had asked for English devolution to be included. He just inserted it into the deal unilaterally, provoking protest from many quarters (on the reasonable grounds that English devolution is an attempt to ‘lock in’ Tory control over England). This made it possible for him to claim that these protesters were holding up the devolution process when in fact he was the one who had thrown a spanner in the works.

Now it seems he has done the same with the EU referendum Bill. The Liberal Democrats had agreed to support a ‘money resolution’ to approve the costs of the referendum, in exchange for an agreement by the Tories to do the same for a Lib Dem backbench Bill that would modify the bedroom tax.

But the Tories had then insisted that the referendum Bill should be debated in time normally reserved for government, rather than backbench, legislation. The Lib Dems quite correctly rejected this as inequitable.

And didn’t the Tories squeal about it! Bob Neill, the former minister who sponsored the backbench Bill, which came third in the ballot for debating time and is therefore struggling, said the Lib Dems had done “everything they could” to prevent a referendum: “The Lib Dems have killed off our chances of putting into law, this side of an election, an in/out EU referendum by 2017. They didn’t have the guts to vote against an EU referendum in the House of Commons. Instead they have used Westminster tricks to try to deny the British people a say on their membership of the EU.”

In fact, the evidence suggests the only Westminster tricksters in this case are the Tories. And here’s another one: Mr Neill said the Liberal Democrats would be held to account by voters at the next election.

He knows – and we know – that public opinion of the Liberal Democrats has plummeted. They are currently polling behind the Green Party – not because of their attitude to any EU referendum (most of the public couldn’t care less about the EU) but because they have supported a Conservative government whose policies have been compared with those of 20th century fascists – if not Nazis.

The Tories must think we are stupid if they expect us to ignore the fact that they are the ones playing “Westminster tricks”.

Ed Miliband’s policies backed by public – The Guardian

Here’s some information that will enrage everybody who has been campaigning so ardently for the downfall of the Labour Party – people who have been duped by Lynton Crosby and (north of the border) the SNP. The Guardian has revealed the following:

Over 70 per cent of the public are in favour of Miliband’s policy to fund the NHS with extra taxes on tobacco companies and mansions, according to a new poll.

Every one of Ed Miliband’s pledges from his speech yesterday has popular public support.

A new Survation poll for Labour List of 1,037 people shows that 72% of the public are in favour of the policy to fund the NHS to the tune of £2.5bn extra a year, partially using taxes against tobacco companies and mansions as well as closing loopholes. Only 12% were against.

The polling suggests this pledge was particularly popular among Labour (81%) and Lib Dem (84%) voters from 2010, which is useful for a leader hoping to woo disaffected voters from Nick Clegg’s party.

[Image: The Guardian.]

[Image: The Guardian.]

Miliband’s pledge to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour also was supported by the majority of the public and played even better with Liberal Democrat voters (80.1%) than Labour (78.6%).

His pledge to break up the high street banks was the least popular (but still had 43.9% of people in favour of it). Only a quarter of people (24.9%) said they were opposed to it with 31.4% saying they didn’t know how they felt.

In fairness, the article adds: The way this poll is structured may be flattering to Labour’s prospects. By using Labour’s own phrasing, the poll presents each policy in quite a generous light, which makes it difficult to disagree with – not many people would say creating “a “world class” health service” is a bad idea, for example. This has the effect of making the policies look popular – and they may well be – but it may be that if the same policies were presented differently, the poll numbers could change a lot.

Nevertheless, this is exactly the response Labour needed, in advance of next year’s general election. Clearly the general public thinks that Ed Miliband is on the right track.

Of course, the election is still eight months away and much may change in that time. Public opinion is fickle and we may well see polls supporting David Cameron’s plans – or even Nick Clegg’s – before the end of October.

But it’s a big boost for Labour and will give the party the momentum it needs, in order to win the campaign and – if elected – let us hope Miliband will hit the ground running.

Because the UK needs a change, and it can’t come soon enough.

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Don’t believe the critics – Labour’s plans are good for Britain

What do you think of the Labour Party conference this year? It’s a loaded question and one that is bound to elicit loaded answers.

The propaganda machines of the other parties have been working overtime to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition, with Scottish people who wanted independence (the minority, let’s remember) claiming Labour lied to them, UKIP supporters adamant that the party is full of child abusers (based on a BNP propaganda website, which should tell anyone with a brain all they need to know), and of course the Tories doing what they usually do – blaming all the country’s problems on the last Labour government while stealing the family silver.

You never hear ‘No’ voters saying Labour lied, do you? You never see UKIP supporters complaining about racism in their own party. You never see Tories calling for genuine reform that helps the 99 per cent, rather than the tiny minority that they represent.

So let’s look at what Labour is proposing. Let’s make a list – because, you know what? Mrs Mike was watching coverage of the conference yesterday, and even she tried to tell Yr Obdt Srvt that Labour wouldn’t keep its promises. If we have a list, we’ll be able to check the promises against what they do, after a Labour win next May.

So let’s see what Ed Miliband promised. He outlined six “national goals”, and he called for 10 years in which to hit them. You may very well ask: Has he been reading Vox Political? Recent comments questioning Labour’s intentions have been answered with the simple observation that it takes time to change the direction in which a country is travelling (or in the UK’s case, lurching), and Miliband’s words echo that sentiment. He can’t do everything in one day. It does take time. Let’s look at those goals.

They were:

Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, raising the minimum wage by £60 a week or more than £3,000 a year.

Ensure that the wages of working people grow with the economy (something that is glaringly missing from the Conservatives’ ‘economic recovery’, meaning that – for the vast majority of us – it isn’t a recovery at all). Miliband said: “What’s amazing… is that statement, that goal is even controversial. It used to be taken for granted in our country that’s what would happen.” He’s right – look at today’s article from Flip Chart Fairy Tales that Vox Political re-published.

Create one million jobs in the green economy – neglected by the Conservatives – by 2025, committing to take all the carbon out of electricity by 2030; start a Green Investment Bank; devolve powers to communities to insulate five million homes by 2025, saving energy and heating costs

By 2025, ensure that as many young people will be leaving school or college to go on to an apprenticeship as currently go to university. It really is as though he’s been reading Vox Political. A long-standing gripe of this blog is that governments have concentrated on academic achievement while neglecting the education of people who have more practical aptitudes. This is a very welcome change.

By 2025, be building as many homes as we need, doubling the number of first-time buyers in the UK. Vox Political would prefer to see far more social housing; perhaps this will come as well but it wasn’t part of Miliband’s promise. Nevertheless, the pledge to build 500,000 new homes should make housing more affordable again for people who aren’t spectacularly wealthy or don’t have wealthy family members.

Finally, to create a world-class 21st century health and care service, funded by a clampdown on tax avoidance including tax loopholes by hedge funds that will raise more than £1 billion, proceeds from a mansion tax on homes above £2 million, and money from tobacco companies. Total: £2.5 billion (per annum, it seems). Some have said this is not enough when the NHS is facing a £20 billion shortfall but we must remember that this deficit only appeared recently and could be the result of Tory scaremongering, or the private companies introduced by the Tories leeching money out of the system to fatten their shareholders. More details were due from Andy Burnham today (Wednesday).

Oh yes, you see Andrew Lansley’s hated – Yr Obdt Srvt really cannot find the words to show how vile this diseased piece of legislation really is – Health and Social Care Act will be repealed by a Labour government. If you don’t care about any of the other measures, you should vote Labour for that reason alone.

So those are his six goals. But what’s this?

“It is time we complete the unfinished business of reform of the House of Lords so we truly have a Senate of the nations and regions.” Considering the way Cameron has been packing it with Tory donors, rather than people of any expertise (as it is intended to contain) this can only be a good thing.

“And it is time to devolve power in England.” What a blow against the Tories who have been claiming Labour want to delay or destroy such a process! Miliband is talking about “devolving power to local government, bringing power closer to people right across England”. That seems to be an indication that he wouldn’t create a new, expensive English Parliament but would give power back to the current councils – power that has been leeched away from them by centralising Conservatives and the previous, neoliberal, incarnation of Labour.

There’s more. He wants constitutional reform. But unlike David Cameron, who wants to impose changes from above, so that they only benefit people who are already rich and powerful, Miliband wants to make it a matter of public discussion. Those who can’t be bothered to take part will only have themselves to blame if they don’t get what they want.

There were promises on foreign policy – to stand up for the UK in Europe, in contrast to Cameron’s strategy which Miliband blasted: “When David Cameron comes calling, people don’t think he’s calling about the problems of Britain or the problems of Europe. They think he’s calling about the problems of the Conservative Party. And here’s the funny thing… If you’re elected the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Italy or the President of France, you don’t really think you were elected to solve the problems of the Conservative Party.”

More solid was the promise to recognise the state of Palestine and actively seek a solution to the problems of that part of the world we might call – in an attempt to be fair – the Holy Land: “I will fight with every fibre of my being to get the two state solution, two states for two people, Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.” Many detractors have wrongly claimed that Miliband is a Zionist, determined to support the Israeli government’s use of vastly superior firepower to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; they had better think again – and look very hard at David Cameron, whose government has done as little as possible to protest at what has been happening.

And Miliband also said he wanted Labour to fight discrimination against same-sex relationships around the world. That may not seem as important to some people, but in some places it is just as easy to be killed by homophobia as it is to be killed because of your religion. Personally, Yr Obdt Srvt finds same-sex relationships unattractive – but it takes all sorts to make a world.

That makes six more goals! Double the value.

These are all good aims. All of them, if seen through, will be good for the UK.

So there’s your checklist, with 12 – not six – goals on it. If you support Labour next year, you’ll be able to check Miliband’s progress against them and you’ll have a chance – halfway through his 10-year plan – to stop him if he’s not making it happen.

Alternatively, you can say to yourself – as Mrs Mike did last night: “He doesn’t mean it. They’re all the same. It’s not worth voting,” or any of the other things the Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby would like you to believe, and you can sit on your thumbs at home. That would be a vote for the Conservatives to carry on raping your country and ripping you off.

If Labour win in spite of people like that, then they will still benefit from the changes Miliband wants to introduce, along with the rest of us. If the Conservatives win because of those people, then we will all lose – apart from a miserably small band of super-rich, super-selfish, super-arrogant and entitled exploiters who tell Cameron what to do.

Framed that way, it isn’t really a choice at all, is it?

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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.

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