14 Jul 2015

SNP foxhunting move a raiding party into English lawmaking

The government has pulled the vote on foxhunting after the SNP’s decision to break its own pledge and to vote against the relaxation of the ban in England.

Nicola Sturgeon spoke at last night’s SNP MPs’ group meeting and her argument won the day.

There was a detectable though not strict generational difference in the room, I am told – some more seasoned party hands wary of breaking the already crumbling commitment to standing aside from English only votes.

Nicola Sturgeon is today emphasising the waves of post and emails she got urging her to come to the rescue of English foxes and act in line with English public opinion. One SNP MP said he was already being “deluged” with messages of thanks and support from both sides of the border after the pulled vote.

The first minister is making much of this as a principled stand, but in truth it was a highly political raiding party into English law-making to teach proud David’s army a lesson (on English votes for English laws – Evel – and much else).

The SNP will consider it the fourth victory in the first 68 days since its 56 MPs were elected. It counts the others as the postponement of the human rights act, the refusal of a joint elections/referendum date, and the postponement of the Evel rules. The government has lost two major measures in one week.

There’s no shortage of chutzpah in the SNP move. Saying that you are acting merely to reflect English opinion opens up a massive can of worms. What if there was a write-in campaign to save English grammar schools or to shut them down? Nicola Sturgeon said that wasn’t relevant.

Tories are furious that a sometimes rather “worthy” SNP approach to English laws, as one Tory MP put it, which seemed to be still the line in recent government-SNP talks has been jettisoned at will to “shaft David Cameron and his posh friends”.

Pro-hunting Tories are not convinced that revisiting the relaxation of the ban, even after Evel changes happen, will be straightforward because these changes were being put through (somewhat underhandedly, to some minds) via a statutory instrument, not primary legislation, and more traps for the pro-hunting lobby could be round the corner because of that.

Government has just published new Evel changes here.

They show Scottish MPs would vote on statutory instruments, so that suggests no law change on foxhunting in this parliament.

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16 reader comments

  1. garylester says:

    Another typical smoke and mirrors sneaky Cameron move to get what he wants to pleas his posh friends.

  2. Mike Harland says:

    I am glad the SNP have brought a bit of sense to the EVEL nonsense.
    I am one of around half a million English in Scotland and my representative at Westminster represents me on UK issues.
    I may reside in Scotland, but I have family in Yorkshire and I have interests in Yorkshire – therefore it is logical that, while Scotland is a part of the UK and I vote for my UK MP to represent me in the UK parliament, I require my UK MP to express my views on issues that affect my interests in England, Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland.
    Fox hunting is an issue that affects the whole of the UK; my Scottish SMP representative is now reconsidering putting Scottish fox-hunting laws into line with the English laws. It would therefore be a nonsense to turn this upside down and negatively affect my interests possibly in both countries.
    If England and Scotland were two separate sovereign countries, then I would agree that I had to accept the laws of the country in which I live. But they are not: I have rights in the UK and I have local rights in Scotland and while I have two representatives I have a right to be properly represented by both within the full domains for which they are elected. Remember too that I also have a European representative for my rights within Europe and am fully represented there throughout European law… so you cannot have a double logic when applying issues to the full domain of the UK.

    The sooner the English realise their hypocrisy the better: double talk, double standards and a forked tongue that is now intent on double-dealing as an answer for Scottish ’treason’ – even willing to betray their own birth nationals!

    1. Alex Dev says:

      Yes and there are votes taken in Scotland that has an massive impact in England. Passenger duty is one example, it could end up closing Newcastle and Manchester Airports. Leading to much hardship in Northern England. Can my MP vote in this tax reduction, well no. If England, Wales, and NI decided its only option would be to drop taxes as well the SNP could move to block this move. The SNP is just the selfish party, better of Scotland at the rest of the UK expense. This is called devolution, we have to live with it in England and so must Scotland. Don’t forget that thanks to the Scots we have to pay tuition fees in England.

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    Two observations:
    Scotland’s First Minister is not the leader of the SNP in the House of Commons. Angus Robertson is the SNP’s leader there.
    I agree with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, that Holyrood should now bring Scotland’s hunting law into line with England & Wales’ more stringent hunting law.

  4. Stewart Kerr Brown says:

    This whole article is based on a false premise…the fox hunting bill affects England and Wales…more shows the attitude of the author…as far as Wales goes…and makes the whole article redundant too…

  5. anon says:

    what nationality are the foxes anyway? anyone who enjoys setting a pack of hounds onto a frightened animal are clearly quite sick and need to be stopped, good for the SNP,

  6. Carol Mellor says:

    Really wanted to hear Nicola Sturgeon’s response to this, but struggled with Gary Gibbon’s frequent interruptions. I understand that politicians should not be given an easy ride, but there is not much point in asking a question without allowing sufficient time for a response.

  7. Dave Hansell says:

    I just watched the TV interview on Channel 4 and, like Mr Guru Murthy ‘ s interview with Mr Corbyn yesterday, Mr Gibbons was trying desperately to avoid any points being made by Ms Sturgeon which were outside the narrow boundaries he was seeking.

    The body language, the content of the questions, the way in which they were asked, the obvious interruptions at points where there was a danger of Ms Sturgeon making cogent points which would demolish the picture Mr Gibbons was trying to present as the case, was, like Mr Guru – Murthy s interview last night, pure gutter journalism.

    Mr Gibbons is trying to present readers and viewers with a totally false picture. One wonders why?

    The facts and the reality are that along with the entire MSM in Scotland and England, and all four UK establishment Westminster Parliament the argument against Scottish Independence and maintaining the Union was presented by people like Mr Gibbons on the basis that all Westminster Parliamentary seats in both Scotland and England should be and were equal. That wad the Unionist case.

    The reason the Foxhunting vote has been put back from its original time slot just before the EVEL vote is because the Government wanted to use the charge of hypocrisy against Scottish MP’S who are not part of the Westminster cabal voting against the Foxhunting legislation. Unfortunately, the fact that the 1 single vote of the 1 single Tory MP in Scotland has in reality and practice recently vetoed the 56 SNP MP’S sent to Westminster to represent Scotland over the devolution Vow made last year scuppered that move.

    The government and it’s MSM mouthpieces cannot have it both ways. The parliament in which the 56 Scottish MP’S sit is, by the Unionist definition a UK wide not an English one. Trying to paint a picture in which Scottish MP’S voting on English matters in that parliament is illegitimate and wrong when 1 Scottish Tory MP in that Parliament can veto Scottish legislation over the will of the 56 will not wash.

    It is a terminological inexatitude and Mr Gibbon knows it is so.

    He would not dare challenge the 1 sitting New Labour MP in Scotland for voting against the foxhunting bill on the basis that he is representing a Scottish seat.

    Like Mr Guru-Murthy , Mr Gibbon would benefit from further training in the craft to improve his quality and sort out that bias problem they both have. They could do no better than Mr Mason as a mentor.

  8. Ian Mac says:

    You could perhaps regain an modicum of credibility by subjecting to all other interviewees to the same frequency of reflexive interruptions present in this interview.
    Or perhaps not.

  9. Gordon Blair says:

    You really should conduct your interviews a bit more professionally. Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister of Scotland and if you take the time to hunt her down for an interview it would be really good if you allowed her to answer your questions without interruption. Regardless of the politics there is an increasing tendency for interviewers to interrupt and that’s fine if there is obfuscation by the interviewee. In this case your obvious upset at the audacity of the SNP came shining through. How lucky are we to have her as First Minister ! I know my English relations are quite jealous.

  10. Alan says:

    As long as English laws are being decided in the British Parliament, MPs north of the Tweed have every right to have a say on it as they are employed to work and represent at said Parliament.

    I hear many English say that they want what Scotland has in respect to devolved matters decided by the English. But then Scotland’s devolved matters are not decided at Westminster by sitting MPs, then nor should the English devolved matters.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      What you may have overlooked, Alan, is that there was always a ‘Scottish Grand Committee’ within the House of Commons that made Scottish laws. That Grand Committee was made redundant by Holyrood.
      All that the English are seeking is their equivalent of that Grand Committee where there laws can be enacted.
      I don’t see that as an unreasonable aspiration. Scottish MPs who want to make a name for themselves may try to block that move. But they should bear in mind that we sell more of our packaged food and drink in the London region than we sell in the whole of Scotland. Do we really want to encourage those valuable customers to shop elsewhere?

  11. David McMillan says:

    How many times has the Conservative party had it’s Scottish MPs not vote on English and Welsh legislation. It has never done so to my knowledge. I have never seen this mentioned in the press or on channel 4 news. So the question for outraged conservatives is why an SNP mp shouldn’t vote on English and Welsh issues but their own Scottish MP(s) should.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      David, this issue began only because Scottish MPs insisted (in the mid 1990s) that shop opening times on Sundays in England should be much shorter than those in Scotland. That despite an overwhelming preference in England to be allowed the same liberty as Scotland
      Had Scottish MPs shown more wisdom and restraint then, that schism in our island would not have been created.
      And please be advised that Scotland relies on 70% of our external trade with the rUK.

  12. Julian Roughton says:

    Couldn’t agree more with the comments about what a poor interview this was – partisan and without interest in her answers. The contrast with Paul Mason’s informative interviews from Athens could not be greater.

  13. George Sutherland says:

    Thought that biased interviews was the function of the BBC. Given Mr Mason’s informative broadcasts on the situation in Greece this interview represents a desperate “plunging” in Channel 4 news broadcast standards

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