19 Sep 2014

David Cameron’s English offer

With an eye on the general election, the PM has tried to seize advantage from his near death experience in Scotland. If he campaigns for “English votes on English matters”, he thinks he might tap into a bit of the vote that’s deserted him since 2010.

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He thinks he might put Ed Miliband, opposed to restricting the voting rights of Scottish MPs, in an uncomfortable place with English voters. He might also calm down anger in his own party that he’s fobbed off Scots with a big offer without consulting his own political backyard.

But David Cameron risks jeopardising a Scottish devolution project which he promised as recently as last week in a desperate bid to turn round a referendum here that was slipping away from him.

His insistence that the next phase of Scottish devolution should proceed in lock step with reforms for the English makes a complicated project look extremely difficult. Given the mood in his own party he may feel he can do no other. But he didn’t talk about any lock step when he promised Scotland change.

The grand post-referendum re-drawing of the UK could prove a bit like fundamental reform of the House of Lords: something the political leaderships all sign up to in principle but which gets stalled because of disagreement and political advantage.

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2 reader comments

  1. Robert Taggart says:

    Cameo should do the right thing by England – it is his party’s ‘power house’ – and he takes it for granted at his peril (post general election anyway).

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain.
    Drop the Northern Ireland reference – they – ULSTER – should as much a part of it as England, Scotland and Wales. To this new federal structure could be added Kernow (?). That just leaves the Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Gibraltar – should they not be encouraged to join in fully ? – and come out of their current limbo ??

  2. Philip says:

    Cameron has fallen into the same trap again. It seems to me he – and most of the other current crop of politicians – fail to realise the people want their politicians to stop playing at politics (i.e. their own advantage) and do something for the country as a whole. Demanding a solution to “the West Lothian question” may put Milliband in a spot and might turn a few UKIP supporters back to the Conservatives. But it doesn’t deal with the underlying issues which caused the strong Yes showing & the rise of UKIP – that people feel ignored by a Westminster-centred politics. Giving on English MPs the right to vote on purely English issues won’t solve that. Indeed, it’ll just mean that the Conservatives – with their roots in the SE – will take even more decision and make the rest of England feel no less ignored.
    I agree that we need to move to a more federal system – but within England, we need to devolve tax and spending powers to a very great extent to counties and unitary authorities – and accept, within a framework of standards and Audit Commission inspections, plenty of local divergence, even if that may be unwelcome to the current governing party. The only way we can break into the apathy of local elections is to give local authorities real powers so that people feel they’re voting for something real which can make a difference to their lives.
    Something like that would be the statesmanlike approach. I wonder if any party is prepared to grasp that nettle?

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