Friday, June 13, 2008

Least Bad Answer - Says Question Poser

I haven't got around to posting this yet but over 30 years after he initially posed the question the then MP for West Lothian Tam Dalyell has acknoweldged that a recent Conservative proposal is the 'least bad answer' he has seen thus far.

Ken Clarke who has carried out the democracy review and Tam are not natural bedfellows, but the former father of house says that Clarke "grasp of the difficulties of devolution" is greater than anoy of the Labour members during that time from 2001-05. Seeing as for part of that time the man charged by Labour with the task of constitutional reform was his neighbouring MP the late Robin Cook, before he resigned as leader of the house, that may be a bit unfair and Robin did have a fair grasp of a great many constitutional issues. But it may well be true of any of the Labour members then present who still sit in the House of Commons.

3 comments:

Jeff said...

I do enjoy the fact that just because Tam came up with the original question he gets to choose which answer is best. That said, I'd trust his judgement over a lot of his colleagues'


I'm still undecided on English votes for English questions. We've seen with Holyrood how fiercely defensive politicians are in maintaining an equality across the benches. That said, it seems odd that Scottish Labour MSPs can dig Gordon out of voting problems on health and education when it doesn't affect their constituents.

What do you think Stephen, is English votes for English questions a sure-fire way to make Scotland independent?

If Tam Dalyell (the gate-keeper of knowledge) is to be believed, apparently that is the case….

Stephen Glenn said...

Well Jeff I have a lot of respect for Tam and sent him a letter, which I wrote on the eve of the 2005 GE, shortly afterwards as he wasn't present at the count to hand it over to him personally and I still treasure his response.

Personally I don't think he's necessarily right on issue that English votes for English questions is the automatic path to independence. It just depends how it is administered. I feel the problem has always been that devolution has always been seen only to be pertainent to the extremities and not to England.

If you look at the example of other Federal States Germany or the USA power and decisions are made at a number of levels national and then the states level. Nobody has actually so far be willing to address the English question in the same way that they treat Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Ideas of Civilisation said...

I think the problem of 'English votes for English issues' is the fact it potentially creates two governments within the one Parliament.

Assuming that in England and Wales the Tories had a majority of, say 15, but that across the UK as a whole Labour had a majority of 15 you could end up with the need for an 'English' government alongside a 'British' one. Having two Prime Ministers seems very unlikely!

Also the West Lothian Question is only one part of the issue. If the rationale is that Scottish MPs shouldn't be able to vote on issues that affect England if English MPs can't do likewise then this has to extend (on certain issues) to NI MPs, Welsh MPs and even London MPs too!

Of course this is not to say that there isn't a form of injustice with the current system - but I'm yet to see a genuine solution, perhaps beyond some sort of federalist structure (or the SNP's choice, of course).

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