Posted by: secretperson | July 2, 2008

Cameron to Adopt English Pauses?

There are suggestions David Cameron will support Ken Clarke’s ‘English Pauses for English Clauses’ fix to the West Lothian question. I say fix, but perhaps fudge is the best word. Compromising between Malcolm Rifkind’s English Grand Committee and the status quo, gives us something amounting to a parliamentary tweak, designed to change as little as possible while claiming to do something.

Ken Clarke, ever the Westminster politician, sees this as a Westminster technicality. The people of England might not next time UK MPs make a compromise on their behalf to ‘protect the union’. It partially reduces the democratic deficit in terms of Westminster votes, but not fully. It completely avoids the question of an English first minister or executive.

Alex Salmond and the SNP remain, I suppose somewhat ironically, the most pro-English party out there.

There is plenty of discussion around the web:

The BBC’s Nick Robinson.

The Guardian has support from the Scots, some hypocritical idiocy from Welsh MP Ian Lucas and a good post from Paul Kingsnorth which captures many of my thoughts.

And Gareth ‘toque’ Young posts at Our Kingdom.

Some of the comments are good, lots of English Parliament support. Some are rubbish.

Ian Lucas MP made a good case for undoing devolution (integrated state and all that) but presumably didn’t mean to apply it to Scotland and Wales. Apparently his Welsh consitutuents use English hospitals so he should keep his vote on them, if he extends this right to English MPs to vote on Welsh hospitals I apologise, if not, he is an idiot and a hypocrite and I hope Plaid take his seat.

One man said it was too hard to decide on English only issues (Welsh and Scottish are OK currently!) but decided regional assemblies would be fine. Plenty pointed out the Barnett formula confuses things, easy – scrap that at the same time. Others pointed to PR, which would reduce the effects of the WLQ, but not the principle.

It was pointed out that England has 82% of MPs so could do what it liked, which obviously ignores the fact that a block vote of the least rebellious Labour MPs distorts voting. Yes 100% of English MPs could do what they liked, but that doesn’t excuse a system in which a ruling Labour government can pass English legislation with something like 45% of the English vote. I have heard of super-majorities being required to change the status quo on things like the American constitutional amendments, but never less than half being sufficient to do what you like.

I find such people so frustrating! Calm down SP, think of green rolling fields and cups of tea.

Still can’t believe how reluctant parliamentarians are to look at a federal solution. Protecting the Union is still their rallying call. I know the status quo always has a priveleged position, and it is up to us to make the case for an English parliament, but when the rebuttal is ‘but that might risk damaging the Union’ I’d like them to explain why the Union, in its current form is so great.

I hold out no hope for Unionist politicians to understand or address these issues. We can only hope that when Scotland goes its own way, there are better politicians waiting in the wings to address the reality of the new situation.


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