Monday, 12 April 2010

England Expects…Better (or at least it should do.)

There is a saying in politics that “you get what you vote for”. But is this really the case when it comes to voters in England?

In the run up to the forthcoming general election we are to be treated to a series of TV debates involving Brown, Cameron and Clegg. The SNP, as a separatist party, will not be invited to take part. As the junior partner in the Union, Scotland will get a series of extra debates featuring Scottish party leaders as a concession. As some sort of cruel and unusual punishment I say. The main unionist parties have argued that as this is a UK election, the SNP should not take part as they have no chance of winning it.
Seemingly the Liberals do.

So what will be the big issues that Moe, Larry, and Curly will be debating?
Education? No doubt. 
Health? Definitely. 
Policing? You can bet on it.

But, as far as voters in Scotland are concerned it doesn’t matter what any of them say about these issues, none of them are within the remit of the Westminster Parliament. In Scotland if we disagree with Education, Health and Policing policies a UK election will not change a thing.
This is not, as some might suspect, a result of devolution. These areas have always been distinctly Scottish. However, the difference now is that policy does not come from London in the form of the Secretary of State for Scotland. A separate Government is elected to deal with these issues.

So what’s in a UK election for voters in Scotland?

Well, they can register a vote that in some way reflects how they feel about the Scottish Government. A protest vote if you wish.
They can elect an MP that they can complain to but, more than likely, end up complaining about.
But, curiously for a democracy, they will be electing an MP who will vote on, and perhaps help pass, legislation that will affect others but not them.

What’s in it for voters in England?

Well, they could end up with a Government that owes it’s majority to it’s Scottish MPs and will be passing English legislation against the express democratic wishes of the English electorate.
So why can’t there be a system where only English MPs vote on English legislation?

Labour don’t fancy it because, it could (and probably would) mean, that at some time in the future a UK Labour Government, elected by dint of it’s Scottish MPs, would be in the minority when it came to legislating for England.

The Tories don’t fancy it because; Westminster would become, for the most part, an English Parliament. Nothing wrong with that!

The Lib Dems? Maybe a fence between the two countries. It would give them something to sit on.

They all fear though, that such a system would diminish, threaten and eventually result in the break up of the ‘Union’. And that’s without factoring in an SNP Government in Edinburgh.

On the other hand it might just lead to a fair and equitable system.
If, in the next Parliament, it is Scottish MPs that give Labour a majority, then they will continue to vote through legislation that will not apply to Scotland. So, no matter how unpopular or disastrous it might be, it won’t lose them any votes.
Devolution hasn’t, as Labour believed it would, made the SNP irrelevant. And while it has given the Scottish people more power to decide how they live, it has, at the same time taken that power away from the English.

The bottom line?
The Mid-Lothian Question is not one for the people of Scotland to answer. It is one voters in England need to address.

If this was happening the other way round, let me assure everyone, I and a hell of a lot of other people in Scotland, would be kicking up fuck!