Give the English a vote too

The Labour leadership’s astonishing U Turn on a referendum about Scottish independence in Scotland leaves Gordon Brown in an even weaker position over both the EU and England.

Up to this point we have been told that big constitutional issues – like Who governs the UK – is a matter for the UK Parliament and not for a popular vote. We have been deprived of the promised EU referendum on the grounds that it is too complicated for the voters to grasp and has to be left to professional politicians.

Now we learn that the question of who governs Scotland is a matter just for the Scottish people.

In that case Who governs the UK? should be a matter for the UK people. The case for a referendum on the big transfer of powers recommended in the EU Constitutional Treaty on this logic has to be put to the voters.

The Scottish example comes across as yet another injustice to England. If Scottish voters can settle their fate within the Union unilaterally, why can’t the English? Gordon Brown should now offer the English a vote on whether they wish to stay in the Union, which would force him to recognise the unfairness of the current settlement and to offer improvements in order to secure the continuing consent of the English to his constitutional arrangements. As a Unionist myself I want English votes for English issues – the restoration of the English Parliament at Westminster with dual mandate English MPs.

Under Labour we have had to put up with lop-sided devolution for a decade. Now under Labour we have to put up with lop sided democracy, where five million Scots can express a view on our constitution, but 50 million English cannot. When Labour first presented its skewed devolution proposals I argued that, far from strengthening the Union, they would weaken it as they were unfair on England. This further twist will do yet more damage. It is as if the SNP has found a way to get the London government to do its job for them. It has always been SNP strategy to make England angry with the Union. They have an able assistant in this cause in Gordon Brown.

The alternative explanation is that he is so weak he cannot control or influence Wendy Alexander, the Labour leader in Scotland. Labour’s devolution has badly miscarried from their party political point of view. They now have a Conservative Mayor of London, an SNP-led government in Scotland, a coalition government with the Welsh Nats in Wales, and no Labour representation in the Northern Ireland Assembly. I am sure their original idea was to create devolved government in places Labour usually won, and offer a voting system which made it difficult for anyone else to gain a majority.

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77 Comments

  1. Posted May 7, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    An excellent post. I hope you get a word in with DC before he decides what to do with Ken Clarke's proposals. There is a danger than given the high support for the Conservatives now we fail to deal with the long term issues for our country when we have the political capital to do it.

  2. Posted May 7, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Wendy Alexander was panicking. She saw the poll ratings and her knee jerk reaction was to do something populist to stop the rot. She has ended up making herself and Gordon look like idiots.
    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  3. Drew Belobaba
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Will a Tory government hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if elected in 2009.

    Yes, if it has not been ratified throughout the Union. If it is in effect then we will take other measures to deal with the unacceptable settlement.

  4. Posted May 7, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Well said Mr Redwood – 5 Million Scots have no right to be the only ones who will decide this issue.

  5. T. Yke
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    It is becoming increasingly difficult to stomach a man elected by a single Scottish constituency on an almost wholly English manifesto.

    We all know that the Scots will never tolerate a Tory government in the British Parliament and like it or not, that will be the death knell for the UK as far as the Scots are concerned.

    That's why I will be voting Tory at the next GE. A round-about way of getting rid of a nation we can no longer afford to keep in the manner to which it has become accustomed. Plus, it will be a great epitaph for Dave, "There's a lot of Scottish blood in these veins," and the "English who want equal treatment are nothing but Sour Little Englanders who don't show Scotland enough respect."

    Your leader has earnt the votes of my family. And considering the end result, he most certainly deserves them.

    You deserve a better leader. And so do we.

  6. Posted May 7, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,

    If you had your way and became a dual-mandate MP, would you be able to seperate your duties effectively?

    In Scotland, an MSP has one concern – Scottish interests. As a British MP, would you be able to put English interests first – maybe even to the detriment of Britain or the Celts – on "English" days in the same way that an MSP does in Scotland every day?

    I don't think this is possible and that is just one of the reasons why English Votes on English Matters will not work.

    If we are to have devolution in England it has to be at least on equal terms with Scotland. This means an English Parliament and Executive consisting of parliamentarians elected by the English to represent English interests in an English government.

    Let me put it another way – say you were presented with a bill that imposed a tax on Scottish imports into England that would make every family in England £1,000 per year better off but made every family in Scotland £1,000 per year worse off, how would you vote? If the reverse were presented to an MSP, they wouldn't think twice about endorsing it because they are only interested in Scotland.

    I'm glad you take the West Lothian Question seriously and I'm glad that you seem to genuinely want to address it, I just wish you'd support parity for England instead of a constitutional bodge.

    Reply: I don't think there would be such devilish contradicitons between the 2 roles. On the issue we wouldnt have the power to impose such a tax under either WTO or EU rules.

  7. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The only reason Westminster MPs do not back an English Parliament is because one would render them all, but redundant overnight.

    This happened to Scottish MPs when the Scottish Parliament came into being. All they can do now is meddle in English affairs as they are powerless in Scotland.

    An English Parliament would render ALL MPs redundant EVERYWHERE! This is the only reason MPs do not want an English Parliament.

    Meanwhile all the decision making is being left to Scots while billions of English taxes flood north to Scotland.

    Talking of floods, the English are being denied adequate funding for flood defences and are expected to see the whole of the east coast of England fall into the sea. This affects 16.9 million people. However the British Irish Council, with no English representation, gave over £51 billion to Northern Ireland with a population of less than two million.

    The Tories have betrayed their natural constituency, England, for the sake of a long dead “Union”.

  8. Ian Campbell
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Will your proposal for English votes on English matters at Westminister, a de facto English Parliament within a Parliament, also allow for an English 'government' including a First Minister? The Scottish and Welsh assemblies were intended to provide a 'focus for the nation' as well devolved government. At present no-one speaks for England – in the UK, in the British-Irish Council or in the EU.

    Yes

  9. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I live in Carlisle which received no EU Solidarity Fund money for the 2005 flood damage.

    Cumbria is the poorest county in the UK and one of the poorest in the EU. It has a large farming community which had the single farm payments delayed. England was fined by the EU for this, a total of £305 million I believe. Of course this fine was paid (only England pays fines) and the money promptly handed over to Greece by Barroso who declared that it was in addition to the Solidarity Fund money Greece received for the fires last year.

    Barroso never came to flood-hit England and the Solidarity Fund money for the recent floods is being snatched back. This was the first bit of money the SF awarded England because for the first time politicians got off their backsides and applied for some.
    http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/Brussels-snat

    Where are the Tories fighting for England? They are completely supine when it comes to England.

    England's (not Britiain's) EU rebate has gone. The English are not represented directly in the EU whereas Scotland is.

    Only an English Parliament will give the English a voice. Instead we are being carved up into reviled regions to ensure the most Euro-sceptic nation does not have a voice.

    The Tories support this carve-up because they are desperate to hang on to the UK. Where will the Tories be when Scotland (and likely Wales too) goes independent? There'll be like the English, disempowered and ruled by Brussles.

    The Tories are blinded by Dave (I've got lots of Scottish blood in my veins) Cameron's Britishness.

    He will never support a referendum in England on constitutional changes. Why should only the Scots be allowed a say on the future of the UK?

  10. E.Justice
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    A good article Mr. Redwood,
    But when are the English going to hear some thing from David Cameron about this?and I mean is he going to stand up in Parliament and even mention England.

  11. Jefford
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    "As a Unionist myself I want English votes for English issues – the restoration of the English Parliament at Westminster with dual mandate English MPs."

    No John . That is completely unsatisfactory and a recipe for continuing divisiveness. Your usual clarity of thought deserts you.

    Despite your words you are not proposing the resoration of an English parliament but merely the implementaton of very large sub
    committee of the British parliament for England.
    Thanks for nothing so far .

    England is an old parliamentary country and we must have our parliament and self government back . This cannot be in a manner of ongoing confusion with the British parliament and government. The two must be separated completely . Only a federal arrangement will do this .

  12. Susan
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Well said, Mr Redwood. A logical and honest approach appreciates that the independence of Scotland is an issue for the whole of the United Kingdom, not Scotland alone.

    At PMQs today, roughly five minutes in, Brown actually had the insolence to accuse the SNP of not holding to their election manifesto:
    "She [Wendy Alexander] was making it clear that what the Scottish Nationalist Party was doing was against their election manifesto."
    Well, he would know all about that, wouldn't he?

    By the way, since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is a foregone conclusion, when will the Conservative Party tell the voters what they intend to do about it? I think it's a mistake to believe that the EU isn't on the people's radar so I hope detailed plans for addressing the problem are well in hand and include the option of an in/out referendum.

  13. Derek W. Buxton
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    It is indeed a good article but for one point, devolution was the result of the EU and it's policy of "regions. That meant that at a stroke, England was destroyed as an entity as was the "United Kingdom", something that had been a thorn in the flesh of Holland, Spain, France and Germany-twice. This has always been the aim and is nearly acomplished. This suits both the EU and the Scots, the "auld Alliance" back in charge, so the Scottish mafia weren't going to derail that. Over the last eleven years our economy has been squandered, could this be the last push that sends us straight into the EU and the "Euro"?

    I do wonder why, when we are governed by Brussels, our "loyal" opposition to say nothing of the media, especially the BBC does not tell us more. Is there collusion? We can understand treaties and constitutions, a lot of us know that our own Constitutions, Magna Carta, Bill of Rights have been systematically undermined by those who should have leapt to their defence. But all we get is silence!!

  14. Terry Heath
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    John, I am pleased you are attempting to answer the West Lothian question, but I really can’t see us unraveling the SP and WA in order to install your “two hats” solution at Westminster. If you can I’ll vote for it, but in the meantime I’d like equality with my fellow British citizens.

    If there is anyone Scottish reading this: could you please tell me how you get to be given two referenda on Devolution and now a unilateral vote on ending the UK?

    I’m being absolutely serious! On the face of it you carry the same passport as me and we pay the same rates of tax, but you are feted and counseled at a level I can only dream of.

  15. David Hannah
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    True unionists should be trying to reverse the trend of separation, not be seen to pander to it. I fear an English Parliament will do for English nationalism what the Scottish Parliament has done for Scottish nationalism; i.e. provide a fertile breeding ground (devolution will shoot the nationalist fox being the orthodoxy at the time; look how that turned out!). The future of unionism looks bleak and it will not survive unless a proper federal arrangement is introduced, and even then it will be perilous. If defence, foreign policy and most other important issues are increasingly determined in Brussels, what exactly is the purpose of the UK: a rubber band to hold four parochial administrations together? The union must be quantified in cultural terms if it is to remain. When the arguments for its existence default to economic ones, it is doomed.

    The restoration of proper local democracy and the transfer of currently devolved powers to County level should be the Conservative agenda throughout the UK. This will render the current devolution settlement obsolete and will consign the West Lothian question to history. Only 47% of the Scots electorate voted to create the carbuncle at Holyrood: it has never been “the settled will of the Scottish people”. Yet, Annabelle Goldie, the Conservative leader up here wants to give it more powers!

    P.S. Why have the Tories appointed Ken Clark—a man who has gleefully promoted the outsourcing of what’s left of our democracy to the EU—as the head of the so-called “democracy taskforce”?

  16. David Hannah
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi Terry,

    As one who believes that the real vote to end the UK was taken in 1975 (the EEC referendum, in which only a few Scottish islands voted to maintain British sovereignty), I find it rather difficult to get excited about the current commotion.

    However, to explain, Wendy Alexander is faced with little choice in this matter. The SNP is the governing administration and thus, they have a mandate to offer a referendum on independence. Everyone knows that they cannot possibly win the referendum at the current juncture, which is why we have not had one yet.

    Currently, the SNP can point to the lack of support for a referendum amongst the other parties as a reason for breaking their manifesto commitment (give us a majority next time being the subtext). The apparent intransigence of the other parties at Holyrood will only help the SNP’s cause, as it would appear to the electorate as though their mandate is being subverted by the defeated parties. Wendy Alexander is to be applauded (for the first time in her career) for calling their bluff, and removing the only reason for the SNP not to hold a referendum now. Their failure to do so, after removing this obstacle, will appear hypocritical, and will expose their real agenda (i.e. the instigation of a series of public spats with Westminster years before holding a referendum).

    You're right though, such a referendum should also include the rest of the UK, although that may indeed hasten the end of the UK given the expressed sentiment here and elsewhere.

  17. Posted May 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Reply: I don’t think there would be such devilish contradicitons between the 2 roles. On the issue we wouldnt have the power to impose such a tax under either WTO or EU rules.

    I think there will be contradictions, how can there not be? My "for instance" wasn't a very good one, it was just the first thing that came to mind but I wanted you to think of the principle rather than policy.

    To use a different, feasible example: nuclear power stations. I don't know what your take on them is – I am all for them personally – bu the Scots don't want them. Britain as a whole needs power and a bill is put before you to build 5 new nuclear power stations in England to supply power to the whole UK. The Scots don't want them so the Scottish government blocks it. Say the English don't want them either, what do you do? Are the energy needs of Britain more important to you or the wishes of the English not to have the nuclear power stations? Do you choose Britain or England?

  18. steve-roberts
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    John,
    The Union is on its last legs. Even if the Scots Nats don't succeed in getting a majority for independence, there is a majority in England for Scottish independence, or indeed English independence. The factors which made the Union a win-win have been eroded over the last 300 years, and it is held together now by sentiment – much eroded by scottish anti-english behaviour – and by the political interests of a few, such as Brown and his cronies, whose career prospects would be vastly diminished by the break-up of the Union. Moreover I cannot respect any party that says the people have the right to self-determination through referendum in the case of UK vs EU, and will not respect that same right for Scotland vs UK and England vs UK.

  19. AlanofEngland
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Do we have any rights at all to decide our destiny for England? Didn't the Scots claim all the rights they could because they knew the EU wanted a Scottish region and they got it, just as the EU wanted a Welsh region and got it, and now the EU wants the English regions and has got them? We owe all this to the dreaded Heath and his stupidity, and now I am a citizen of the Atlantic Region without being asked, and so are all you people reading this, citizens of some EU region under mandate from Portugal, or the Manche region under France, or the North Sea region under Denmark, and not one of us were asked a simple question, would you like to become a citizen of the corrupt EU? It's time for a UKIP type of party with its manifesto to get us out, to become our government, under whoever can bring England together. It's for certain though it's not going to be Cameron who thinks of us as sour little Englanders just because we want our country back.

  20. Posted May 7, 2008 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Of course this is abject nonsense John.

    This has nothing to do with England.

    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 1 states as a moral and legal right, that: “all peoples have the right [to] freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

  21. Patrick Harris
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    John, you're getting there, not far to go.
    Unfortunately you are up against the mindset of the "Union at any cost" a mantra used by all three main political parties. The only solution, as I keep telling you, is an English Parliament, it's the only way to preserve the precious Union.

  22. Terry Heath
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Mike Small, this is not nonsense.

    The UK is a result of a treaty between two nations, Scotland and England. Why shouldn't the other partner be consulted in the event of a divorce? Either party should have the right to terminate an agreement made by it, or does 'Article 1' have an exclusion clause for England?

  23. tim holden
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    The situation becomes increasingly shambolic. We are indeed suffering an electoral apartheid recklessly practised by a Scottish Mafia. Along with fiscal folly we now must face a devolution disaster, and the English are plainly depised as fools by the hypocrite who used his party's manifesto amongst his lame excuses.
    Complete collapse cannot be far away. Hopes of recovery hang on the flimsy threads of Crewe and Nant, impossible contortions on the 42 day detention, and the unlikely prospect of an economic upswing.
    It is getting funnier and funnier – I haven't had as many political bellylaughs in years. There will be several more, for certain. It's becoming possible that we'll miss Brown when he's gone – because it won't be as amusing for a long time to come – and we'll be forced to sort out the catastrophic mess he's intent on leaving behind.

  24. Donitz
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    This is what will happen in single malt Scotch-land.

    Independence gained from Edwards Army.

    New Socialist Scottish Government who spend, spend, spend using the tax revenue gained from the oil.

    Oil runs out and no more tax revenue so Socialist Scottish Government tax, tax, tax the Scotts.

    Scottish business heads south for England.
    Scottish employees follow.
    Scotland goes bankrupt.

    England to the rescue!!!

  25. Ken Stevens
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    An English Parliament would effectively mean federation – though we would have to be careful about the acronym.
    Federated Countries of the United Kingdom would not do! 😉

    However, I would not envisage having dual mandate English MPs, yet retaining separately mandated Scotland MPs and MSPs. Each country should just elect to own parliaments and then appoint/elect amongst themselves those who would participate in the less frequent and narrower deliberations of the small federal parliament.

    Proportions of representatives from within each parliament to be devised to reflect range of political hue. National representational proportions within federal parliament more nearly equal (rather than proportional to respective nations' population size) so as to overcome present objections to England dominating Scotland numerically.

    Either that or abolish current form of devolution and return to Union.

    Anything but the current unfair mess!

  26. Stuart Fairney
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Mike Small said

    "all peoples have the right [to] freely determine their political status"

    I do not wish this country to ratify the EU constitution/treaty, and was promised a referendum in the last election, so how can I now freely determine my country's political status?

  27. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    If England declares independence from the UK we could get out of the EU too meaning lots of public expenditure savings , lower taxes , more democracy as power went to an English Parliament while QUANGO’s & Brussels got the boot and no more Euro – regulation either . If Kosovo is a viable statlet & Bosnia & Luxembourg can go their own way why not England ? The Tories out-polled Labour in England at the last general election after all and if Scotland was not part of the UK then Labours Majorities at in 1997 & 2001 would have been far less while there would have been a hung Parliament in 2005 . So it would have taken a massive landslide for Labour to win in the UK without Scotland while politicians sign up to modern PC lifestyles , the EU & climate change because their careers depend on the votes of undemocratic people who back that nonsense . There is a massive gap between the governed & the governing hence the rising support for UKIP in succesive European & Westminster elections and the large number of people who never vote at all . How will David Cameron appeal to people like me who are shocked to discover the fact that QUANGO’s cost £26 billion in 1997 & now cost £123 billion while the working poor are punished by a meagre basic personal allowance & the end of the 10p tax band ? Can someone please explain tax poverty to Mr Cameron by saying that some of that £97 billion extra QUANGO expenditure would do more for social mobility & economic growth etc if it went on funding a far bigger basic personal allowance ?

  28. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    If England declares independence from the UK we could get out of the EU too meaning lots of public expenditure savings , lower taxes , more democracy as power went to an English Parliament while QUANGO's & Brussels got the boot and no more Euro – regulation either . If Kosovo is a viable statlet & Bosnia & Luxembourg can go their own way why not England ? The Tories out-polled Labour in England at the last general election after all and if Scotland was not part of the UK then Labours Majorities at in 1997 & 2001 would have been far less while there would have been a hung Parliament in 2005 . So it would have taken a massive landslide for Labour to win in the UK without Scotland while politicians sign up to modern PC lifestyles , the EU & climate change because their careers depend on the votes of undemocratic people who back that nonsense . There is a massive gap between the governed & the governing hence the rising support for UKIP in succesive European & Westminster elections and the large number of people who never vote at all . How will David Cameron appeal to people like me who are shocked to discover the fact that QUANGO's cost £26 billion in 1997 & now cost £123 billion while the working poor are punished by a meagre basic personal allowance & the end of the 10p tax band ? Can someone please explain tax poverty to Mr Cameron by saying that some of that £97 billion extra QUANGO expenditure would do more for social mobility & economic growth etc if it went on funding a far bigger basic personal allowance ?

  29. Posted May 8, 2008 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    It's good to see a Conservative posting a pro-England article, but why are they so few and far between?

    On St George's Day where was the St George's Day address to equal Annabel Goldie's St Andrew's Day address? I know it seems like a trivial example but it demonstrates how far the Tories have to go, they still don't even have an English party or English manifesto.

    The same conflation of Britain and England would just continue under your English votes method.

    When you do create these dual-mandate MPs what becomes of the single-mandate Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs? And which manifesto – English or British – are the dual-mandate MPs elected on? Will MPs vote in favour of more nuclear power stations in the UK Parliament and then use the English Parliament's planning remit to vote against them being built in England (similar to what Scottish Labour do for Scotland)?

    Two separate mandates just seems so daft to me.

  30. Home Rule for Englan
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    John, do you support England having a referendum on an English Parliament, on the Scottish model with an English Executive and English First Minister, elected by PR?
    A simple question to be put to the electorate of England: 'Should England have her own English Parliament' Yes or No.
    Scotland had more than one referendum, will you support England having the same?

    Reply: I do not want England to have another bunch of high spending politicians like the Scottish Parliament. Make the exisitng politicans work harder for their money.

  31. Alba
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Donitz, keep taking the pills son. Scotland has far more opportunities outside her oil revenue.

    In any case, the matter at hand.

    What absolute rot. To suggest that the future of Scotland should be in the hands of the Scots, and everyone else – is completely ludicrous.

    I would suggest the English, who are being misrepresented [no question] apply more effort to gaining their own parliament and something approaching their own voice.

    This is best done by lobbying your own 'British' representatives. In Scotland, we have done this to better pursue an appropriate future for our own country. To suggest that we now sideline those efforts 'because England wants a say on Scottish futures' is mind numbingly arrogant.

    And please, do not confuse Scottish people with Scottish interest. Gordon Brown is a unionist, and hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland know that his first duty is the union, not Scotland.

    As is seemingly the case with British MPs who represent England. There is your problem.

  32. Freeborn John
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I think it is a serious mistake to extrapolate the desire of Scots for a regional assembly into calls for the same for England. The essential difference is that the English are far more likely (by virtue of their population) to overwhelm the policy preferences of the Scots than vice versa. Therefore the Scots have a far more legitimate claim for a regional assembly than the English. I would even say that the “West Lothian” question is of almost purely theoretical value as far as most English are concerned and certainly pales into insignificance compared to the potential break-up of the UK that an English parliament would be a giant step towards.

    Anyone who wishes to see the UK survive should recognise that it will only do so in a democratic age if it enjoys popular support in each of its constituent parts. The Barnet formula, West Lothian issue, etc. are part of the price we have to pay for this and should be supported by Unionists. They are simply reflections that British society (likely any other) is only cohesive to the extent that it agrees to be bound by shared political institutions and to support its less affluent regions.

  33. Rose
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Let us remember what happened when Ireland went her own way: England was expected to absorb all the individual problems from A-Z, beginning with abortion and alcoholism, and did.

  34. Don Beadle
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    The problem about the Scots having a referendum on independence is that it ought to be made clear to them before they vote just what independence would mean. How would the joint assets and liabilities (national Debt) be divided? Who would own each oil and gas field and who would defend them? etc. etc.

    This would need careful negotiation between England and Scotland. But who can now represent and speak for England? w Surely not Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling who now govern England as that would lead to constant future disputes for years ahead. We therefore need an English Executive NOW and for it democratically to represent England it would need full devolved powers and be elected either by an English Parliament or by some sort of English Grand Committee of existing Westminster MPs

    The latter solution is more likely to be achieved since it avoids another tier of MPs and the opposition of Westminster MPs (like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas). But as rightly pointed out it would involve English MPs having a dual responsibility to the interests of the UK and England. However it might be acceptable as a first step in view of the urgency of England having its own voice.

    An English Constitutional Convention already exists and would be a good forum for discussion on these points. However at present it is ignored by Westminster MPs. As a start I suggest that you should offer to participate and better still encourage likeminded MPs to do so. It could be cross party if you could persuade Frank Field and Simon Hughes to join in. Also Lord Baker who first put forward the Westminster solution.

    The Union is in grave danger of breaking up. To survive it will probably have to evolve into a fully devolved system of government. It is time that those in Westminster who care about it should take action. Please take the lead.

  35. Iain
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Alba, if Gordon Brown is a unionist, then he's only a unionist for the power it personally gives him as PM, certainly not for anything in what the Union might or might not offer its people, which is why, with no mandate to be the defacto First Minister of England, he denies English people a say in their constitutional issues, yet indulges the Scots. But it also has to be questioned if he's a unionist at all, after all Gordon Brown signed the Claim of Right, 'to make Scottish interests paramount' , which is a very strange thing to sign if his claim to be Unionist had any substance, for the two are incompatible.

    This begs questions of the Conservatives, who when faced with someone who doesn’t have a mandate to dictate policy in England, other than the gerrymandered constitutional arrangement they have written for themselves, haven't AT ANY TIME questioned Brown on it, instead as others have commented, have the Conservative party leader round on and insult English people who have every right to feel well cheesed off with what has taken place. In addition if motivation to resolve a matter is shown by the person one employ’s to come up with the solution, then Cameron employing Ken Clarke to advise on the West Lothian question, clearly shows he has no intention of doing didly about it.

    But I would agree with you that the problem is our so called representatives in Westminster, who even though are supposed to represent their constituents interests, have where English people are concerned, done nothing of the sort, instead voted through one bit of discriminatory legislation against the interests of English people after another, always putting their party interest above that of England and English people. As such the activities of our MP’s make the case for an English parliament, for they cannot be trusted to vote according to their constituents interests if we had something English votes for English laws.

  36. David Burch
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Up until 1998 I was a unionist however Blair in offering the Scots and Welsh devolution for political reasons (as it now turns out) has changed my view. As and Englishman I want avoice in the future of the union which could be only two years from fracture! This horrifies me, however from devloution the path lead in this direction. What has not been explained is to the Scots and the Welsh is without English support through taxcation they weill be weaker than England. No fair well as from my English point of view it look fine but I am not sure that point has been laboured.

    On the dual mandate that will not work, the need is for an English Parliament replacing the House of Lords or using the London Assembly building. The House of Commons or its relpacement could be the control (as long as full break up of the union has not hapened) on the four constituent "national" parliaments. Not what I really want as a former unionist but that looks like the pragmatic view as an Englishman.

  37. Home Rule for Englan
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Reply: I do not want England to have another bunch of high spending politicians like the Scottish Parliament. Make the exisitng politicans work harder for their money.

    Is it not time that the matter was properly debated? Are you against the Scottish Parliament ie. would you like to see it dissolved and rule returned to Westminster?
    You may not like the idea of an EP John but I'm afraid that the cost excuse is just not acceptable.
    With an EP the House of Commons could be dramatically slimmed down and substantial cost savings achieved. Also, given that the House of Lords does not have responsibilty for reviewing Holyrood legislation, the same would surely apply to legislation from an English Parliament. Therefore the workload of the House of Lords could be substantially reduced and the number of members reduced accordingly.

  38. Terry Heath
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    “…England wants a say on Scottish futures’ is mind numbingly arrogant.”

    No Alba, what is mind numbingly arrogant is Scotland thinking they should have a unilateral vote on whether or not the UK is dissolved, without consulting the other partner in this arrangement.

    If Scotland votes to leave and England votes to stay… Scotland leaves. If Scotland votes to stay and England votes to leave… England leaves.

    Why is asking both parties if they want a divorce such a difficult thing to grasp? Could breathtaking arrogance and an inflated sense of self worth be to blame?

  39. adam
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    the union is so dead. the country is so dead. politically through regionalism and moraly through rampant leftism.

    Our politicians are weak, childlike and stupid because after 50 years of consumerism the electorate are weak, childlike and stupid.

    Boy will they get a shock when they find out what this sus. dev. stuff they have been taught to support is really all about and, if they knew how to read, read agenda 21.

  40. Joe M
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    "Now we learn that the question of who governs Scotland is a matter just for the Scottish people. "

    Have you really just realised? The right of self determination applies to all countries, that means Scotland has a right to vote for it's own independence as does England. However England needs a party that supports independence first and it's not yours.

    England does not have a veto however on Scottish independence nor should it. The 'equal' union is daily being shown up for the unequal farce it actually is.

    Both Scotland and England would benefit from independence.

  41. Joe M
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    'David Burch'

    "What has not been explained is to the Scots and the Welsh is without English support through taxcation they weill be weaker than England. No fair well as from my English point of view it look fine but I am not sure that point has been laboured."

    Oh it's been 'laboured' all right and it now sounds very laboured indeed. I find it very amusing that anyone in England actually believes this. Seen the price of oil lately? What does that mean for the relative post independence economic positions of Scotland and England?

    The highest public spending in the UK is in London and NI. Scotland has the next highest, however Scotland also has a small population compared to the rest of the UK. This means a per head analysis looks artificially higher than it actually is.

    We also pump up the British treasury through North Sea Oil and this more than covers any perceived financial deficit.

    If we had become independent in the 70's (according to BritGov's own secret research) we would have had the hardest currency in Europe. Oil is projected to run till at least 2035.

    Our general economic growth is considerably less than the rest of the UK at the moment. Independent analysis suggests however that with the right tax regime Scotland could be potentially one of the most successful countries in Europe!

    So please credit us with a little bit common sense. Labour tried the doom 'n' gloom approach last time and it failed. The sky didn't fall in with an SNP Government and it won't fall in with independence in Scotland or Wales.

    Scotland isn't a colony yet why do people seem to think that both Scotland and Wales can be treated like one? It won't wash. If England believes it can 'survive' independence (and I'm sure it could) don't pretend we can't. It cheapens the whole debate and shows contempt for your supposedly 'equal' partners.

  42. Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The call for British MPs to be dual mandated only applies to England so that in comparison with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we are still to be short-changed. How much more credible this answer to UK devolution would be if those that support dual mandated MPs for England also supported this solution in the other devolved territories, but they do not. So the 85% of British taxpayers who live in England will continue to have to support the salaries and pensions of the 297 extra MPs [and their attendant bureaucrats] imposed on them without their permission, since they were never asked, since 1997.
    Scilla Cullen
    Chairman, Campaign for an English Parliament

  43. Andy
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    And as the every closer breakup of the union draws near whom will fight the corner of the people of England? Certainly not the British politicians in British Westminster. The Scots and Welsh will be represented (most probobly) by nationalist parties who every election gain more and more votes off of unionist parties in the Scottish parliament and Welsh (soon to be) parliament.

    You unionists are loosing power and your grip on control yet cling to England like some shipwreked mariner in rough seas.

    Who will represent the people of England to argue the oil? (whats left of it) who will argue the British national debts fair share to Scotland?…..

    You British politicians have let the people of England down far too ofton with
    1.Devolution and the inequalities of devolved policy making
    2.Referendums on devolution Scotland/Wales 2 England 0
    3.West Lothian Question (not the same thing)
    4.The Barnett formula
    5.Cancer/Alziemer etc drugs available to Scottish suffers but not to people left to suffer and die in England.
    6.refusal to have an English national holiday on 23rd April (ohhh thats St Georges day by the way)
    7.Refusal to allow us an English anthem (Labours culture secretary) we English have to make do with the British national anthem.

    You have gagged and ignored the people of England far too long (EU referendum) to be able to now start claiming you are Anglophiles.

    Before you represent me as an Englishman you have a hell of a lot of work to do……

  44. Alba
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Very well said Joe.

    Terry Heathon 08 May 2008 at 5:09 pm

    "No Alba, what is mind numbingly arrogant is Scotland thinking they should have a unilateral vote on whether or not the UK is dissolved, without consulting the other partner in this arrangement."

    Sorry Terry, you're way off mark. I'm sorry if Scotland has voted in better representatives for the country, and the plans therein upset this ludicrous POLITICAL union – but the right of self determination applies to all countries, that means Scotland has a right to vote for it’s own independence outside the opinion of England, which is irrelevant.

    To suggest that Scots, if they did vote for Independence, should have their hopes dashed by England, a politically different country by any accounts – which has its own problems in the planet [many of which are ably healed by having Scotland in this 'union' – energy, environment, space, water] – IS stunningly arrogant.

    From a contemporary basis, this 'union of equals' is an absolute joke – and has been for some 30-years. From a historical basis, it is on very shaky ground. In fact, to hark back to days of empire as a means of supporting union today is utterly irrelevant. That really tickles me.

    People on both sides of the border can surely see union for what it is? A fudge of astronomical impracticality.

    England has no say on Scottish independence, nor should it – as would be the case in reverse.

    "Why is asking both parties if they want a divorce such a difficult thing to grasp?"

    In short, because if one party has 'had enough' the other parties insistence on union is neither here nor there. Now, what is difficult to grasp about that? It's called national democracy.

  45. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    JoeM – To you and your compatriots, please go, just go.

    The whole history of the so-called United Kingdom has been one of England keeping Scotland afloat, from the Darien project onwards.

    The North Sea oil of 1707 was a combination of the English colonies, the slave trade, tobacco trade and the East India Company.
    Scotland was given free access to these and other empire markets.
    Glasgow and Scotland boomed as a result.
    We keep being told (insultingly) about the "disproportionate" contribution the Scots have made to the UK. Well they certainly provided a disproportionately high number of slave owners. 30%+ of those in the Caribbean and a disproportionately high number in the southern USA.
    The most powerful navy in the world in 1707, the English navy, would no more have bought ships from Scotland than it did from France, without the Union.
    However, without the Union England would have been a world power at least comparable to Holland, a thing Scotland signally failed to achieve alone.
    Without the UK, Scotland's history would have mirrored Norway's in all probability, little world influence, but an oil-rich state now.
    As it stands the Scots attitude is "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine".
    Since devolution I personally couldn't care less about Scotland, I care about England which all three main parties seem intent on abolishing for the sake of the Union.
    In response to John's article above, the English should be given a parliament and the English should be included AS A NATION in any future referenda on constitutional changes.
    Neither are likely to happen with a Scottish Prime Minister in charge because fair play is obviously an English characteristic, not a British one. The only notion of fair play the Scots have is when they are on the receiving end of it from the English.

    So, all Scots – please go.

  46. David Burch
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Joe M

    The oil is running out – England has a population of £52M Scotlands is around £5M – you do the maths.

    John has pointed out a three tier Britain in past posts so a separate England would also appear to have a the lions share of the more properous regions of the UK. I repeat that if this logic is applied Scotland will be worse off, however as Ireland has proved such nations are viable and I would not argue that Scotland especially is not a viable country on its own. The Scottish people would have to use their legendary thrirft with money to make it work!

  47. Posted May 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    John, I appreciate that you're a busy man but any chance of a reply to my previous comment? I wonder if it's made you realise that EVoEM is unworkable.

    Reply: I do not agree there would be conflicts between my view as a UK MP and as an English MP than I could not resolve – that is another version of how you reconcile any possible conflict between the needs of your constituency and the needs of your country at the moment. You are just satying there could occasionally be a tough decision – Yes there, could. If you insist on spending yet more taxpayers money on two different lots of MPs there still would need to be a way of deciding between the different judgements of the 2 jurisdictions, if your theory of conflict is correct.

  48. Peter
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    This is an issue that could really give the Tories an edge. I'm not a Conservative voter, but would consider it of they addressed the England question with integrity and without sticking another layer of expensive regulation-imposing government in place.

  49. Posted May 9, 2008 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    John, thanks for replying but you didn't really answer my question. As a dual mandate MP representing an English constituency, if you were presented with a bill that was opposed by the English people but was good for Britain, would you:

    a. Do what was good for Britain as a British MP would?
    b. Do what was good for England as an MSP would in Scotland?

    Come on John, this is the biggest flaw in EVoEM – British MPs will always put Britain before England just like they do now. Why should we English be satisfied with the same British politicians that have allowed – and continue to allow – England to be left out of the devolution process to represent our interests when the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish elect a group of politicians dedicated to their own country to represent their interests?

    And John, please don't keep using the "extra tier of politicians" argument – it is so tired now that nobody takes it seriously. With an English Parliament taking three quarters of the British government's work away, why would we need over 650 British MPs? An English Parliament doesn't mean more politicians, just different politicians. And if it does cost more then so what? Put the cost on the referendum paper and if we still vote for an English Parliament then write the damn cheque – it's our money!

    One British MP per county is all that's needed once England gets its own parliament. That's the real reason British MPs don't want England to have a parliament, not because they think it will damage the union (the backlash from not having one is damaging the union) or because they want to save the taxpayer money.

    Come on John, play fair – answer the simple question I asked you. If you had to choose between England and Britain (no matter how rare you think such an occassion might be) which would you choose.

    Reply: As England is the major part of the Union I do not forsee all these conflicts of your question. If one arose it would depend on the issue and I would judge it on its merits. I would not automatically favour Britain – or perhaps you means the UK – over England, just as MPs do not automatically favour the UK over their own constituencies.

  50. Posted May 10, 2008 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    The only way to support the 'English issue' is to support English independence not demand an English vote on Scottish independence! That's almost as absurd as campaigning against Scotland for it's high public spending in London which gets much higher expenditure! English Democrats? Don't make me laugh.

    Political consistency is what English nationalists need and please lose the chip on your shoulder about Scotland as it's extremely unattractive. Want more spending on social services? Vote for a social democratic party.

    Want some freedom for England? Support independence. You've still got the same parliament you had pre-union you just need to roll it back by removing the other countries from it.

    Oh and David, we will go, when we get a vote. (Luckily Labour have now collapsed their opposition to a referendum so it will now happen withen the next few years.)

  51. Posted May 10, 2008 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Gash: "Without the UK, Scotland’s history would have mirrored Norway’s in all probability, little world influence, but an oil-rich state now."

    That would have been a hell of a lot better, but I'm interested in the future not the past. Britain's real 'world influence' is when Bush shouts jump, you ask 'how high?'

    'Losing' a place in the G8 and a seat in the UN security council won't matter to us because they don't represent us.

    Scotland will go from nothing to membership of the UN and an equal relationship in the EU. Scotland never had any interest in beimg a world power and for the first thirty years of union our trade drastically declined.

    The problem with the union is in it we Scots get outvoted 10-1. As England has 85% of the British house of commons, if you get a poor decision, it's because you voted for it!

    However I understand your normal desire for independence and we share it so I'm sure our countries can have an equal friendship once our mutual independence arrives, we can't at the moment because the union is not equal and it hasn't been for 300 years.

  52. Terry Heath
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Alba, read my post again, especially this sentance…

    "If Scotland votes to leave and England votes to stay… Scotland leaves. If Scotland votes to stay and England votes to leave… England leaves. "

    All I am saying is either party in a two party agreement should have the right to terminate that agreement.

  53. Alba
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Another rationale and well focused argument – concentrating on the issue at hand – the Scots referendum, and the real need for an English parliament. Not.

    This time from Mr.Gash

    “To you and your compatriots, please go, just go.”

    All in due time Mr.Gash.

    “The whole history of the so-called United Kingdom has been one of England keeping Scotland afloat, from the Darien project onwards.”

    Just plain wrong. Do you have even the vaguest idea about England’s attitude to Darien *before* the disaster? Thought not.

    “The North Sea oil of 1707 was a combination of the English colonies, the slave trade, tobacco trade and the East India Company.”

    Please son, spare me your appalling grasp of history. Why is it English nationalist thought has more to do with ‘Scotland out’ than ‘England onwards’? Pathetic. The East India company wasn’t exempt from the payment of custom duties until after union. It became a titan thereafter. Even before hand it was driven – in a huge way – by Scottish administration.

    Similarly, the Tobacco lords were only a real fact of life, a given administration, until after the union. Why did Scotland do particularly well? Because our ports had geographical advantage over English/European ports in terms of shipping routes and speed.

    It was because of this that Scots did well in the “new nirvana” you’re seemingly boasting about. With those charming articles of union – the plantations. Another reason for wanting to move on, from a historical perspective I would have thought. The whole of the UK is stained with that Mr.Gash. You’re pointing out that Scots did well, as if to make some bizarre moral point it seems? Scots are bad? English are good?

    Round of applause for Mr.Gash everyone! [clap clap]. Excellent strategy. Not idiotic at all. Nor stupid.

    Out with this long lauded ‘free access’ what did England get in return? You don’t seem to have mentioned anything there Mr.Gash? Was England such a benevolent force that they were quite happy with the concept of union, spoon feeding the poor Scots for no return? Grow up sunshine.

    As to your English navy, it took many a thrashing at the hands of the Dutch, and post union, was filled largely with Irishmen.

    “As it stands the Scots attitude is what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine”

    (Abuse left out -ed) Open both ears Mr. Gash. Now LISTEN.

    I’m Scottish, like most of my countrymen, we SUPPORT an English parliament. You are referring to a BRITISH consequence of union – held up by Scots and English British MPs. The Scots MPs are unionists. The English MPs are unionists.

    We have a nationalist party in Scotland and many of us pursue independence as a goal. You DO NOT have a nationalist party in England and your representatives ARE NOT INTERESTED in pursuing an English parliament. So, stop bleating, and start talking to your own.

    When you blame the Scots in this manner, with no logic at all at its back – you are merely backing up unionist rhetoric that acts AGAINST the need for an English parliament. You are given Mr.Brown and co. ammo, for nothing.

    “Neither are likely to happen with a Scottish Prime Minister in charge because fair play is obviously an English characteristic, not a British one. The only notion of fair play the Scots have is when they are on the receiving end of it from the English.”

    LOL! That’s a stunner Mr.Gash. I guess I could go on about the fair plane behind the Crone report and the seizing of Scotland’s wealth to the British state. But we’ll see where your thoughts of fair play get you – if Scotland does become independent – and when England then has oil shortages, water shortages, land shortages with a few titanic energy and immigration crisis at hand. I guess that will be Scotland’s fault then too, huh?

    Many of us truly desire to go Mr.Gash. We continue on making the case of the farcical nature of union in Scotland, and how it undermines the country – and does not act in its best interests [it cannot].

    I suggest you do the same, rather than regurgitate anti-Scottish sentiment from the history books(words left out).

    I realise the goal of pursuing an English parliament is a fairly recent one for you – post devolution.

    Look North Mr.Gash, learn a few things about how to conduct yourself in pursuing the righteous goal of an English parliament. trust me, the strategy rings true – and is infinitively better than the one you’re employing at the moment.

  54. Alba
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    # Terry Heathon 10 May 2008 at 7:51 am

    “If Scotland votes to leave and England votes to stay… Scotland leaves. If Scotland votes to stay and England votes to leave… England leaves. ”

    Fair enough. You think England would vote to leave the union? Serious question. What are the stats?

    I'd welcome such an approach, as it turns the issue in a double-edged sword, and if the English DID want to leave then individuals like Gordon Brown, Baron Foulkes, the Salamander family and that (word left out -ed) Cairns [all Scots] would have to squirm their way back over the border, and into an independent Scotland.

    I misunderstood your take here, as it has been one often cited to me before – but only ever with the 'if England says no, the union stays together' take.

    I welcome your approach Terry. And it gives England the opp to say NO, next to your thoroughly uninterested representatives in Westminster,

  55. Iain
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    John Redwood, may I direct you to listen to Any Questions and the generous applause from the audience to Frank Field’s argument for English representation.

    Why is the Conservative party absent from this debate?

    Reply: We are not absent from this debate. We have come forward with the practical suggestion of English votes for English issues – and I have gone furtehr.

  56. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    JoeM thnk you for your er politeness.

    I was merely pointing out the dishonesty of the “oor oil” argument by comparing it to the situation when Scotland joined the Union in 1707.

    The point of the Union was that its people shared its benefits more or less equally, and not one nation prospering at the expense of the other.

    To say that Scotland had no interest in empire is risible. We hear nothing else, but how the Scots ran the empire (and run the UK now). All this while being a downtrodden by the English. Blair and Brown are typical Scots wishing to interfere in other countries’ affairs.

    The situation in the UK is now intolerable. If it is to be the UK that is to continue then it should have been at the expense of all four nations comprising it, not just England. All should have disappeared into the regionalised UK.

    Otherwise the nations should have absolute equality in status and democracy.

    I agree, there is no doubt that our quisling Judas-like MPs have, at best, let down their English voters which is why cancer sufferers in England are literally dying for the sake of the Union, through being denied medicines freely available to Scots. The way they have behaved shows exactly why England needs a parliament to focus on England.

    How the English are being treated now is a disgrace.

  57. Andy
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    WONKOTSANE….when has any British MP in a British parliament, made a decision based on Englands needs first Britains needs second.

    Unionist politicians believe that THEY not WE know what is best for us. This is why they refuse to listen.

    NO unionist should be allowed to represent England in the event of Scotland leaving the union.

    STEPHEN GASH….Good post, what exactly did the Scots contribute to the forming of the English empire? Did they discover any of the new lands, did they lead from the front? Or did they just reap the rewards while leaving the English to take the flack for the so called 'British' empire.

    Too ofton we read the word British where English would be the correct term. Yet the unionists fear any sense of ENGLISH achievement or of promoting English history for fear of wakening the English population to take prride in English rather than Britishness.

  58. Posted May 10, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    "All should have disappeared into the regionalised UK."

    Actually Britain already tried that. Scotland was officially renamed North Britain and Ireland West Britain, it didn't take though, I wonder why?

    "Otherwise the nations should have absolute equality in status and democracy."

    They would do, with independence. That is exactly what Scottish and Welsh independence supporters are calling for.

    If you want independence for England you need a party to represent your interests (Cornwall has one btw but it is blacked out on 'national' broadcasts.)

    Devolution is what you get given on the way to independence, aim for independence however because if devolution continues then the UK will remain unequal and will only suit power mad Brits not the Scots or the English or Welsh.

    Also I've said it before but if you want better public services, vote for social democratic parties not Conservatives or pseudo Conservatives. It's that simple.

  59. Posted May 10, 2008 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for replying John. So just to confirm – if you were in the position where you had to choose between England and Britain you wouldn't necessarily choose England. That's not the case in Scotland where MSPs would choose Scotland because they are elected only to represent Scottish interests. What you are, in fact, asking us to do is accept something unworkable and inferior that doesn't give us any of the dedicated political representation that the rest of the UK has. England will still be governed by British politicians whose primary loyalty lies with Britain, not England and England will still be a second thought in every area of governance whilst Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland keep their devolved governments with parliamentarians devoted to what is best for their own country. And you don't see why that might not be acceptable?

    Reply: No, not so. There is no reason why I would regard England as second to the Union, just as there is no reason why I would regard my constituency as second to the Union.

  60. English Dumbocrat
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    John, can you explain why you censored my response to Stephen Gash? I see you were happy to publish comments from Mr Gash along the lines of "All Scots – just go", and Alba's comment that Scottish politicans in England would have to "squirm their way back over the border".

    Can you please confirm that you would likewise approve comments saying "All Jews – just go", and "Muslims should squirm their way out of our country" onto your website as well? If not, why are you happy to promote the same views about Scots?

    It seems to me there is an agenda being pushed here which has very little indeed to do with the West Lothian Question or an English Parliament.

    Reply: I certaimnly do not agree with such comments – I wished to preserve the flavour of what people are trying to say whilst removing personal abuse or offensive adjectives.

  61. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    English Dumbocrat. How about Welsh nationalists burning English owned property? I didn't see any calls of "racism" when that happened.

    Ever heard of the term "great white settler" to describe English people who have moved to live in Scotland?

    My comment was a response to JoeM if I remember rightly. "Scots please go" was aimed at those living in the NATION of Scotland, not those residing in England.

    Scottish and Welsh Ministers even deny the existence of the English and England as a nation.

    The late Robin Cook, a Scot, on the Today programme "England is not a nation, it is just a collection of regions".

    Welshman John Prescott wrote in a letter "There is no such nationality as English".

    These statements are in contradiction to UN charters and if were expressed by government ministers about Scotland and Wales would undoubtedly lead to censure in the UN.

    The language you read and hear from people like me is because people like me have heard for decades from (critics of the English)

    The English are stereotyped and abused :(some think they can -ed)
    denigrate the English with impunity. However, when the compliment is returned they bleat "racist".

    As an Englishman I am denied a say on constitutional reform by all parties represented at Westminster. The only place where I can give my opinion is on forums like John Redwood's and occasional letters in the press.

    My opinion is "Scots please go" in other words leave the Union.

    (Para left out)
    One of the many bad things Labour introduced was the EU human rights legislation. For one thing it has enabled (people-ed) to whine "racist" whenever they are challenged. Pathetic.

    Reply: Racism by any one is unpleasant and against the law. I read the comment as urging the break up of the Union, not asking people to move which I would find unacceptable. I am happy to host a proper debate about the Union, but I would urge contributors to be moderate in use of language.

  62. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    JoeM. You say that Cornwall has a nationalist party which is blacked out by the media and the English should have a nationalist party.

    Not only does England have nationalist parties, it also has a the Campaign for an English Parliament which is a non-aligned group.

    I can tell you from first hand experience that the subject of an English parliament, let alone independence is all but censored by the media, especially TV.

    I stood for the English Democrats in the Welsh Assembly elections on a policy of offering the people of Monmouthshire a referendum on coming back into England. The party had more candidates standing in South East Wales than the Lib Dems, but were blacked out by the media.

    I argued with the head of BBC news covering the WA elections that if we had been a Scottish party campaigning to get Berwick Upon Tweed into Scotland then the BBC would have been all over us like a rash. Recent events have proved me right on that, and such bias was reinforced with the "poll" taken in the Cheshire village of Audlem which showed residents wanted to go into Wales which received UK wide news coverage.

    All parts of the UK establishment are hostile to England.

    All English people are asking for is a voice and none of the parties at Westminster gives us one.

    The UK is the smokescreen from behind which the EU destroyer is torpedoing England.

  63. Posted May 11, 2008 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Ok, let's make the question simpler: would you always put England first in the same way an MSP always puts Scotland first?

    Reply: I do not accept your premise. The answer is probably Yes.

  64. Andy
    Posted May 12, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    WONKOTSANE wrote…
    Ok, let’s make the question simpler: would you always put England first in the same way an MSP always puts Scotland first?

    Reply: I do not accept your premise. The answer is probably Yes

    The answer is PROBABLY yes……is not good enough you either represent England and the people of England or you represent Britain. Therefore you cannot represent England in a breakup of this union.

    Unionists……BRITISH NOT ENGLISH

    Reply: please be more sensible. My caution is it would depend on the feeling in my constituency, who would have first call on my loyalty.

  65. Posted May 12, 2008 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    John, independent opinion polls put support for an English Parliament at almost 70%. It is therefore reasonable to assume that around 70% of your constituents want an English Parliament – not some half-baked hybrid, but an English Parliament with at least the same powers as the Scottish Parliament.

    So will you support the Parliament your constituents want or is Conservative Party policy of a neutered committee of disloyal British MPs more important?

    |Reply: I do not find 70% of my constituents do want that

  66. Posted May 12, 2008 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    Thanks for addressing the issue seriously however England can't have a vote or veto on Scottish independence any more than Scotland could have a vote or a veto on English independence. Either party can break up a marriage.

    The real truth is that the union is unequal. England is too large and Scotland and Wales too small for it ever to be equal.

    Another layer of Government for England on top of Westminster does not make logical sense, while if you exclude Scots MP's from voting at Westminster on English issues (which affect Scotland anyway through the Barnett formula) then there will be no point in having any there at all!

    End the union and you end the problem. Both countries have the same voice in Europe and the UN. Both can co-operate if they wish to or disagree if they choose.

    Realistically what is the problem?

    Jack Straw believes England will get less out of this than Scotland because the subsequent English state won't be a part of the G8 without the lion's share of North Sea Oil and probably won't be in the UN security council either. I take it that is your real objection too.

    All this means is that England would have to seek a new identity which was not based on our shared imperial past. This needs to happen anyway and will happen eventually because the existence of Britain is suffocating Scotland and Wales and it's not democratically sustainable. Better to accept the inevitable with a good grace now, than fight to retain an identity which is past its sell by date.

    Don't you feel slightly embarassed by honours saying that people are Knights or Commanders of the British Empire? There is no Empire! It's silly and it's absurd and it diminishes us all.

    I don't expect an answer but I think we both know that this is the reality.

    As a Scot I would welcome English independence. Better to be equal friends than disgruntled, jealous adversaries.

    Yours faithfully,

    Joe Middleton

  67. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Is there any reason my previous comment # Stephen Gashon 11 May 2008 at 12:48 pm

    has not been moderated?

    Reply: Yes, I am getting too many long comments with language which does not respect my wish that we should conduct our arguments without recourse to personal abuse so it is taking time to be able to edit them all.

  68. Andy
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    So what % of YOUR constituants want an English parliament and how did you asses this %age?

    As i doubt you have had a mini referendum I would assume you mean the few party supporters who drop in on you.

    Scotland and Wales had 2 referendums on devolution England hasnt been asked.

    Reply: By talking to people when visiting door to door

  69. Posted May 14, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    John, have you been out round your constituency door to door and said "Scotland has its own parliament with control over most Scottish domestic affairs such as education, health, transport, the environment, etc. – do you think England should have the same as Scotland"? Or have you waited until someone has mentioned it to you and used that as a yardstick to gauge support? Are we to believe that your constituency bucks the trend of the whole of England in not wanting equality with the rest of the UK?

    Reply: Of course I and my constituents want a fairer deal for England, as I have been saying.

  70. Robert S
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood I believe you are genuine and sincere in your concern about the current devolution situation,and so far as I know the only politician prepared to address the disgraceful way the English are being humiliated and treated by Wesminster,….which by the way is the English parliament in the eyes of most English people, but not the ruling (unelected!)Scottish Raj.

    I ask you to take our concern directly to Wesminster and confront the ruling ? elete to give the citizens of England a referendum on whether we want a separate English parliament and thereby parity with the rest of this Island we live on.

    For too long we have been the whipping boys of the Scottish executive, I am sick of my country being constantly refered to as britain instead of its correct name England !!. britain ceased to exist in 1998.

  71. Adrian Peirson
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    What use English, Welsh, Scottish Parliaments if 80% of British Laws come from Brussels.
    Devolution is a red Herring.
    http://eutruth.org.uk/50reasonseu.pdf

  72. Robert S
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    I was of course refering to Westminster.

  73. Andy
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I made the statement. Unionists……BRITISH NOT ENGLISH and that as a unionist you cannot represent me as an Englishman.

    Your reply: please be more sensible. My caution is it would depend on the feeling in my constituency, who would have first call on my loyalty.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………..

    I stand by my sensible and proven accusation. Who has lost power in the Scottish and Welsh parliament/assembly and who has taken power (if only slightly)

    The Unionist parties are losing power and the nationalist parties are gaining power. Thereby showing that the people of Scotland want representing by a party who represents the people of Scotland AND ONLY THE PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND.

    The people of Wales want representing by a party who represents the people of Wales AND ONLY THE PEOPLE OF WALES.

    Unionist parties worry about the reactions of all three British countries because if they work to favour one country they will be slated in the other two. The SNP and Plaid Cymru have no concerns with England while a unionist leader in Scotland/Wales does.

    As a unionist YOU do not represent England 100% therefore in any breakup of this union you cannot (or should not be allowed to) represent me as an Englishman………..FACT.

  74. Stephen Gash
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Adrian Peirson. The point is Adrian is that with its own parliament England will have direct representation to the EU.
    Ask yourself this. If England is bust up into Euro-regions, each with even less power than the Welsh Assembly, then Scotland and Wales opt for independence, where does that leave the English? It leaves us stateless and powerless.
    I care more about a united England than the United Kingdom. The EU and Labour believe the two to be mutually exclusive.

  75. Allan Tanner
    Posted May 18, 2008 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    For goodness sake, let's have a referendum from an English perspective. Most of us do not want a 'forever complaining Scotland' moaning about 'Independence', but doing nothing about it.
    Why on earth should our taxes continue to flood North? (sentence shortened -ed)
    For Gods sake, let the English have a voice of it's own. Give us the chance to express ourselves for once. Would be an election winner for the Tories!

  76. CwlCymru
    Posted May 20, 2008 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    here's an idea:

    how about we give ALL the home Nations a Parliament & let them get on it with it.

    the UK is on its way out- it is only a matter of time. Each nation can decide if it wants to remain a part of the UK & the problem is solved.

    the United Kingdom is an artificial (& unequal) union between England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. the Welsh never got a say in being annexed & Scotland was blackmailed into signing away their independence. the history of Northern Ireland of course is rather more complicated but they of course have a few options post UK. they can join Eire (which is unlikely), become independent or join England.

  77. Posted June 17, 2008 at 9:27 am | Permalink

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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