Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So he made it

Alex Salmond is Scotland's new First Minister. It will be interesting to see who all the people are who voted for him, but I sense a Tony Blair moment.
Remember 1997? Remember how it looked as if there was going to be real progress? Respect? Better NHS? Better Police? I won't bore you but if you didn't feel there was at least a possibility that things " could only get better" you were definitely a curmudgeon.
There's a similar feel to Salmond's acceptance speech today. He states he will only work in Scotland's interests and no others. That is definitely something Scots voters want to hear. Labour lost out because their people in Scotland put the UK Government first in it's calculations, not Scotland. I suspect that was not their original intention, but it's what happened - power is seductive and prone to dull one's instincts.
Scotland may not break away from the UK, but the political parties up here will have to rethink their allegiances. The Scottish LibDems and Tories need to have separate policies for Scotland and not ally themselves too closely with Westminster. If they don't, within 10 years the SNP will have an absolute majority on their own. NuLabour, of course, has a serious problem in this regard - without Scottish and Welsh MPs they would never rule at Westminter at all, and developing a separate policy will be almost impossible given Brown's predilictions.
David Cameron's suggestion, reported in today's papers, that he would bar Scottish MPs from voting on purely English matters is entirely sensible, and, as I've said before, the party that solves the West Lothian question will sweep all of England into it's maul.
So let's give Alex the benefit of the doubt for now. After all, we did it for Tony.


Toque said...

Cameron's proposal is not entirely sensible, not by any stretch of the imagination.

England needs its own executive, and the English nation deserves the the same choice as the people of Scotland: 'the sovereign right to choose the form of government best suited to their needs'

This sort of top down solution - without consultation of the people - is simply an attempt to embarrass Brown by way of a proposal that will gerrymander the constitution in favour of the Tories and prevent a Scottish MP from ever holding high office in the UK Cabinet.

Why should shottish MPs hold executive positions when they are unable to vote on the majority of legisltion in that executive's legislative programme.

Scottish MPs, shorn of their responsibility for devolved issues in Scotland (that is the role of MSPs) and shorn of responsibility for the concommitant English legislation at Westminster, and unable to be ministers, will become part-time MPs. This is a recipe for separatism.

Fortunately the Tories are just playing patheitic party-political games and they will never get to implement their ideas. If they win a UK majority at the next election they will have no need to do this and English Votes on English Matters will be forgotten. If they don't win a overall majority then the other parties won't allow them to implement it.

There are, of course, the well-documented problems of how we identitfy what is, and what is not, English, or English and Welsh, legislation. And also which part of government bills pertain to just England, or England and Wales. The Tories would have us believe that resolution of these divisions are a simple exercise that could be performed by the (traditionally impartial) Speaker of the House. In actual fact it would require a team of constitutional lawyers working around the clock.

Given that English Votes on English Laws was Tory Party policy under Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard you can perhaps understand why this policy has never got past the realms of soundbite - never has anyone in the Party ever attempted to put any flesh on its bones or tell the electorate how on earth it would work.

Regardless of the Conservatives fanatasies all constitutionalists, the Constitution Unit, teh Lib Dems and Labour, are all united in the belief that EVoEM is 'unworkable' and will lead to Constitutional breakdown.

Having studied it in some depth I have to say that I am also of that opinion. Besides which it would be undemocratic to prevent Scottish MPs voting on money bills that determine the Barnett funds due to Scotland - No taxation without representation, and all that.

kinglear said...

toque - I disagree about the separatism. What it would do is separate Scots from constituencies in Scotman if they wanted to be Prime Minister. Why, for example, is Alex Salmond still an MP and famously now First Minister in Scotland? Oh, and an avowed separatist?