The death of Britain? – revisiting old fears

 

           There has been so much comment and debate about the Credit Crunch, bank collapse, large recession and inflation which happened in recent years, that attention has been diverted from the constitutional vandalism carried out by the EU and its collaborators in the last government.

           In 1999 I wrote a book entitled “The death of Britain”. It is time to revisit its predictions, bring the analysis up to date, and to go to ask how can UK democracy be restored to a country with a mangled constitution.

          I argued that devolution would “fuel nationalist movements in Scotland and Wales”. “It is helping create a Europe of the regions in the way the Commission wants”.  “The end result will be a more factious, more overgoverned, more overregulated United Kingdom… It will not reconnect the public with the politicians. It will confirm the public in their view that politicians by and large do not solve problems, do cost too much, and are good at misleading the public in their own interests”. Devolution is usually a stepping stone on the way to a break up of a union.

                The book concluded:

 “It is a crowning irony that, that following decades or centuries of success with the Westminster model and our belief in freedom, this government and this European Union should  now be uniting to destroy much of what is best in the Mother of Parliaments.”

               “What is the point of Parliament if a common foreign policy for Britain is hammered out by our partners on the continent? What is the point of Parliament if the most important decisions about economic policy are taken by an independent central bank in Frankfurt? What is the point of Parliament if many of the important issues of health and education and local government are determined by regional assemblies and not at Westminster? How much democracy will there be if crucial decisions are taken behind closed doors at Brussels meetings?…”

            “One day, however, the British people will collectively wake up to realise that Parliament, the fountain of so many of their liberties, no longer has much water in it….They will discover there are so many layers of politicians and bureaucrats from town hall through district council through county council through regional assembly through Westminster to Brussels, that they very rarely get a straight answer to anything and find it extremely difficult to work out who , if anyone, is to blame….The Scots will get restless for more independence…”

                       “Labour’s constitutional blueprint is nothing more than a plan for the destruction of United Kingdom democracy. It threatens splits within the kingdom. It threatens transferring too much out of democratic control. It gives far too much ground to the federal plan on the continent. ”

                         13 years on much of what I feared has come true. Devolution has unleashed nationalist movements.Devolution is not a stable settlement, but a constant series of demands for more. The Treaties of Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon have transferred far too many powers to the EU, making the  UK powerless in many more areas and adding to scepticism and hostility toward politics as a result. The advent of more decision making in quangos, Brussels and further layers of government has added to cost, complexity. It  lacks  clarity and is increasingly unacceptable to electors. A so called independent Bank  of England presided over our worst economic and banking crisis since the 1930s, making many policy mistakes.  As I feared Labour got rid of the people it did not like in the Lords, but did not know how to reform it positively.

                       Some things I feared we prevented. We stopped the UK joining the single currency, despite Mr Blair’s enthusiasm. We stopped changes to the voting system for Westminster, though we have them for other layers of government.  We have checked regional government in England, defeating elected regional government and now starting to cut  back the unelected because it is a needless and unaccountable layer.

                      In future pieces I will examine what more we need to do to rebuild a proper Parliamentary democracy in the UK.

                     The BBC today reported  79% now support English votes for English issues – that’s a start. Then the BBC ruined it, by saying the answer to the sense of English injustice with the union was a bit more devolution to the northern cities! No, BBC, the answer is to let us English speak for England, and for England to be able to take its own decisions where such decisions are devolved in Scotland. If Scotland is united in its devolved kingdom, so must England be.

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110 Comments

  1. Martyn
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    A useful first step to acquaint the UK public with the true state of affairs would be for the government to list all those once-sovereign UK competencies that have been successively transferred to the EU commission and over which Parliament’s function is now to rubber-stamp EU diktats.

    Against that list there should be another showing the sovereign competencies remaining in the hands of Parliament. It would probably shock many people to see just how impotent Parliament has become as a result of the UK joining the EU. Has anyone set out a list and if so where might it be seen?

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      What happens if competencies have been transferred to the EU but the UK can still make laws in these areas as long as they don’t contradict EU law?

  2. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I’ll be curious to read how a proper parliamentarian democracy would be rebuild in Britain.
    I imagined what my experience would have been if I, a EU-enthusiast, would have lived in Wokingham or Stone over the last 25 years. How could I have voted for someone, who would voice my EU-friendly opinions in parliament, like I can in a national election on the continent? In Britain, every time again, my vote would have been wasted at the first post to pass, I would have grown frustrated and sceptical because of this sense of powerlessness.
    Instead of disproportional representation, proportional representation would be fair to the various political persuasions, whether they are EU-enthusiastic, Green (now 1 MP out of 650) or UKIP (now 0 MPs out of 650).
    Reply: The UK people have just rejected this notion in a referendum!

    • Roger Farmer
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      You are in a minority because the people of Wokingham, Stone, and the UK as a whole reject your EU philosophy. As such you are a tail with no right to wag the dog.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        @Roger Farmer: it’s also called “repressing minorities”. In almost two decades, UKIP has never had a single chance to make its case for UK independence in the H.o.C., they only body which can actually decide on UK independence!
        If people can’t have their views expressed in the national parliament (local hurdles like fptp preventing this), they turn away from politics.

        Reply: The only thing stopping UKIP making its case in the Commons is their low popularity amongst voters. Maybe they should join those of us who are making the case for a new relationship with the EU in the Commons and who have got elected, instead of constantly sniping at us.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          It’s not “repressing minorities”‘; it’s making sure that opinions which run counter to the views of the political elite are under-represented in the House of Commons, even if they’re opinions held by a majority.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

            Denis, an ally on this topic?
            To be honest, more than vested interests trying to keep the status quo, I think that, the older a system, the harder to reform it.
            For all the, sometimes rightful, criticism of the young European Parliament (still “under construction”), it isn’t geriatricly challenged. Indeed, the political elite over there have to listen to UKIP, Dutch anti-Islam lunatics, French National Front, BNP, etc.
            With Dutch eurosceptics having gone from 27% to 37%, the next European Parliament would see that reflected proportionally, just like British UKIP votes. (we won’t be beaten though, most people are still quite sensible).

          • Mike Stallard
            Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

            No. That is not what we want.
            We elect a person who holds roughly the same sort of views as we do. They need’s be exactly the same (our MP is much more pro Europe than I am, for instance), only similar.
            That person is our representative in London. We elect him/her to show the government what sorts of things interest us, the voters.

            Under the EU proportional representational system it is totally different. We vote for a party with a definite programme. that party chooses people itself and we don’t get to see them. Once there, they stay there with a written disclaimer from representing the electors.

            The problem here, of course, is that if an MEP resigns (Roger Helmer) the next in line is chosen by the party and not elected at all. Under our current very practical system, there is a by election immediately.

        • Stephen Gash
          Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          Ah, yet another failing of party politics. Because EU-scepticism was/is suppressed in the Conservative party, UKIP was formed. I can think of no cabinet minister who campaigns for getting out of the EU. They are sidelined by the “In Europe, but not ruled by Europe” soundbiters.

          The first past the post sytem has actually stifled debate about EU membership. One or two EU-sceptics wanting out, would ensure the topic were raised regularly. Similarly, those wanting an English parliament.

        • lifelogic
          Posted January 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          To reply:- true but the problem is that many voters will always vote for their long established party come what may. Perhaps the one they liked when they were young or even the one their parents always voted for. New parties in “first past the post” and indeed many systems, thus have very little chance of any break through. Other voters realise this too and have to vote for the, least worse, of the main parties. Perhaps only two have a chance of winning. The voting system prevent people voting for what they want anyway they only get one vote for countless issues and the parties/leaders do not do what they promise anyway – as we see with “cast iron” Cameron and “tuition fees” Clegg.

          • Bickers
            Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

            You’re right, we neither have a true socialist party (Labour) or conservative one (Conservative) – we have a centre ground muddle with the socialist EU over riding whichever party we vote in.

            The devolved parliaments are a talking shop joke as the EU again overrides much of what they do or want to do.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      To JR:

      I think the UK rejected AV not proportionality. I think this was appropriate, but if the alternative were (a 2 vote) MMP then I think this would have been preferable.

      reply: Yes they did. They did so knowing that AV was a staging post on the road to full proportionality. They were told if they liked PR they should vote AV.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps a little late for a voting system argument and a post-hoc rationalisation of how people voted, but nevertheless 2-vote MMP does allow:

        (i) both geographic representation and proportionality (or fractional /power law modifications of proportionality)
        (ii) overhangs allow proportionality to be maintained
        (iii) by having mpp if one party gains a number advantage in one area of the UK due to constituency ‘design’ it is rebalanced by the total party vote (so needing more MPs based on geographic size in one area can still be balanced out with party totals)
        (iv) Minimum thresholds can be used to ‘keep out’ extreme parties if desired.
        (v) Independents can still win geographic seats, homogeneously disperse interests can win party seats.

        In terms of representing opinion I think first past the post is better than AV since the major parties have to adjust policy due to voter bleed to smaller parties in marginals e.g. Conservative loss of votes to UKIP. If AV were the case then I suspect this wouldn’t happen since many small party voters would have a major party as an alternative. Hence my own ranking of these 3 systems is MMP, FPTP, AV and I could not see AV as a staging post.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      @Mr Redwood: From your own 2-3-2011 blog (which obviously, I all keep under my pillow):
      “I fought the Wokingham election against changing the electoral system. The Lib Dems fought it in favour of a proportional system. We both agreed the AV system was not a good idea.”
      And didn’t you sing up to a “No to AV” facebook page which starts with: “AV is less proportionate than First-Past-the-Post” ? As I see it, and . . . as you see it, the British people didn’t reject the notion of PR.
      Interestingly, the referendum illustrates people being averse to change. Why is Mr. Cameron afraid of a new in/out referendum? He’d likely win it.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Well Mr van Leeuwen, you could have voted for any of the three mainstream parties, they are all pro-EU, although they try to avoid admitting it. Mr Redwood is obviously not pro-EU, but remains a loyal member of the Conservative party. So you could vote for him and get the best of both worlds.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Rather hypothetical, as you’re Dutch and you’re not a British citizen, are you?

      So even if you’d lived in Wokingham or Stone for the past 25 years you would not have had the right – and should not have had the right – to vote in Westminster parliamentary elections.

      In fact if I had my way only British citizens would be allowed to vote in any British public elections and referendums.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        All true, but I had Britsh (europhile) family living in Stone for more than a decade, so I do have some second-hand knowledge about this Tory safe-seat.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        I too, Dennis, would like your way to be the one had!

    • lojolondon
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      John, voting AV was presented as leading to PR, but NOT necessarily, there was no commitment, and we saw through the lies from the pro-AV team. Ironically, AV would have allowed UKIP to totally eclipse the Lib Dems, so a pity, but probably not worth changing our centuries old system for.
      Of course, a UKIP improvement in the polls would work very well for the Tories who want their party to stop copying Labour, especially around publice spending, global warming scam, the EU, ‘uman rights, political correctness, etc.

    • Sebastian Weetabix
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      The main weakness with your preferred system is that it leads to stitch-ups and coalitions – with grubby power-broking deals made behind closed doors where the public has no say. We like first past the post – it gives decisive results – it allows us to throw the incumbents out.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        @Sebastian Weetabix: Well, your fptp system also has its advantages (closer to the public), but I would suggest that within your main parties there is also political dealing behind closed doors where the public has no say. For me (but you will have your own preference) a government should reflect what the majority of the population has voted for, which wasn’t the case in e.g. all the Blair and Thatcher governments.

      • forthurst
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        The electorate has no say now. A majority want a major change in our relationship with Europe and 80% want a complete halt to large scale immigration. These are by far the most important issues affecting he survival of this nation.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    People can easily bend stuff with the right words. “Democratic Deficit” is one good example.

    At the moment – you were right – parliament has been sidetracked by Standing Orders where decisions taken by a tiny caucus of unelected and totally unaccountable politicians in Brussels are simply handed to Ministers in UK and then made into law without parliament going through any form of discussion at all.

    Not surprisingly, without any proper discussion, the wrong decisions are taken. The main points of interest at the moment – the exploding breasts, the High Speed Rail, the devolution of Scotland – are all EU decisions. (The breasts got the European Seal of Approval).

    • Liz
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      There is no reason why every EU directive should not be properly discussed and voted upon in Parliament as I believe happens in some EU countries. Eventaully the message might get through to Brussels. Our sheep like acceptance of every EU order, even embellishing them, conniving at handing over law making to Europe by successive Governments has been a Parliamentary disgrace and must have all those long dead who fought for British democracy spinning in their graves

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        There is a reason why Parliament cannot refuse to transpose EU Directives, which is that in 1972 Parliament agreed that in the future it would always transpose EU Directives when necessary for them to have legal effect in the UK, no matter what unspeakable rubbish they may contain, and Parliament has yet to change its mind on that and make the corresponding change to its law.

        Now Article 288 TFEU, but the substance was in Article 189 of the 1957 Treaty of Rome:

        “To exercise the Union’s competences, the institutions shall adopt regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions.

        A regulation shall have general application. It shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

        A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.

        A decision shall be binding in its entirety. A decision which specifies those to whom it is addressed shall be binding only on them.

        Recommendations and opinions shall have no binding force.”

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted January 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          @Denis: Just out of interest: Would the “European CommunitiesAct 1972” take precedence over the Magna Carta or the UK Bill of Rights – if there were a clash? How are such clashes resolved?

          • Mike Stallard
            Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

            You don’t ask questions like this.
            In fact, parliament simply passes a law (eg Scottish parliament directly against the Act of Union) or the right of detention without habeas corpus or the right of extradition to a foreign jurisdiction (Europe or America).
            Or doesn’t quite notice (extraordinary rendition).
            And everyone turns a blind eye for about ten years and then grumbles as it passes into our noble tradition.

          • APL
            Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            “Would the “European CommunitiesAct 1972” take precedence over the Magna Carta or the UK Bill of Rights – if there were a clash? How are such clashes resolved?”

            My 2peneth worth.

            The “European Communities Act” is a statute, it is a creature of the Parliament.

            The Magna Carta is a treaty between the monarch and the Barons and is one founding authority of the British Parliament.

            The British Parliament cannot repeal something that is the foundation of its own legal authority and still retain its legitimacy.

            For a second lets imagine they tried to “overturn” MC, then by doing so they would destroy the legitimacy of all statute law – including the EC act 1972.

            Reply Not so.Magna Carta is an important historical document but it is not modern law. It has long since been superceded by Statute law.

          • APL
            Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

            JR: “Magna Carta is an important historical document but it is not modern law.”

            I believe that is what is called a ‘straw man’ diversionary artument. Assert something I didn’t say, then contradict it.

            A classically educated fellow could not possibly be unaware of employing the tactic.

            JR: “It has long since been superceded by Statute law.”

            The Great Charter never was statute law, but Statue law stands on the legitimacy provided among others by the Great Charter.

          • APL
            Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            Mike Stallard: In fact, parliament simply passes a law (eg Scottish parliament directly against the Act of Union) or the right of detention without habeas corpus or the right of extradition to a foreign jurisdiction (Europe or America).”

            In short Mike, ‘ Parliament’ acts in a Lawless manner.

            There was a time when Parliament was cautious in its legislation, mindful of one law and how it might impinge another.

            Not today, with EU statutory instruments, Parliament mostly doesn’t even know what laws it passes.

            If that is so, how can there be an expectation that those subject to the law could reasonably know?

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:10 am | Permalink

      “decisions taken by a tiny caucus of unelected and totally unaccountable politicians in Brussels”

      Given that the European Parliament has 736 member who are elected using proportional representation it’s clear they’re not unelected or unaccountable.

  4. Pete the Bike
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Divide and rule has always been the policy of occupying powers or unelected elites. A British democracy would certainly be better than what we have now but your comment about people not believing that politicians solve problems is looking at it the wrong way. Too many people DO believe that politicians solve problems which is why we have a giant mountain of employment legislation that actually discourages job creation, taxes that discourage wealth creation and waves of pointless rules that discourage just about everything else.
    When it comes to government I would support any measure that reduces it’s scope, powers and spending. If politicians want to solve problems they are in the wrong profession because for every one they solve they create 3 others.

    • Antisthenes
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      You are perfectly correct politicians do cause many more problems than they solve for three reasons. Primarily because governments take on roles and do things that they should not and therefore do badly that which would be done better by others or best left not done at all. Secondly politicians may be good at arriving at laudable policies but they do not have the expertise to implement them and rely heavily on the civil service. Civil servants are high on technical understanding and theory but are low on experience and the practical, so often the outcome is more often not that to which was expected or desired. Thirdly too many politicians are inept or sinecure/career seeking or power hungry or act rashly or prone to misconceptions.

  5. figurewizard
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    There was a piece on Meridian news yesterday concerning a review by BAE of its shipbuilding capacity. Apparently they have one yard in Portsmouth and two in Scotland and there is a chance that one of these will have to close.

    A representative of the Portsmouth operation made the point with “all the talk of independence in Scotland” it would be a mistake for Portsmouth to be a candidate for closure. This make sense and perhaps represents a good example for HMG.

  6. Richard1
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Perhaps a cure for some of this at least could be more referenda. 2 examples: 1) there could be an English ‘Grand Committee’ of English MPs to vote on English issues. The Left and the BBC will oppose it – so lets have a referendum to see. 2) Perhaps there could be a referendum on a temporary suspension of our membership of the European Court of Human Rights, with a British Bill of Rights replacing it & perhaps re-joining if the ECHR returns to its original purpose. I think referenda might be the way to cut through some of the issues you refer to.

    • Liz
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      The BBC should have no view on the matter – they should merely report widely on other people’s views. They are not a political party or even the voice of one as they seem to be trying to be.

      • oldtimer
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Quite right – but a “should” or an “ought” does not make an “is”. The behaviour of the BBC, evident through its editorial policy of selection and presentation of news and those it allows to comment on it, demonstrates beyond doubt that it is a propaganda instrument of those who have taken it over.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      Human Rights cannot be temporary suspended whenever the Government doesn’t want to follow them. As long as the UK remains a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights the European Court of Human Rights has the right to judge any case in the UK.

    • David Price
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Interesting point, the issue is not what an institution was created to do but how the people who now occupy it behave now and what they do now that matters.

      This is true for all cases and illustrates why it is the people making the decisions who are identified as such and not allowed to hide behind some corporate skirts.

  7. Antisthenes
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    We are suffering from the effects of decades of socialist inspired policies and practices in economic and social governance. Electorates have been lulled into believing that social democracy is the best way to achieve prosperity without the flaws inherent in capitalism and free markets. What was known but ignored was that socialism has even greater flaws inherent in it’s system hence the mess we have now in our democratic process, our societies and our economies. Socialism even now is still the most dominant force in political thinking because it has the appeal for giving something for nothing, for easing the individual’s life’s burdens and it promises attainability for all regardless of ability. You suggest you have policies that will address our current problems. I have no doubt that you have but what I do doubt is that those who matter will take any heed of them and even if they did it would be too little too late. The current problems are not ones that a bit of tinkering here and there is going to make any appreciable difference. What is needed is wholesale shifts in attitudes and deep structural and institutional reforms and that is not going to happen. So the dye is set and the path ahead is clear and that path although we cannot predict where it will lead we do know that it is a descending one.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      An eloquent exposition, all be it rather gloomy.

      Don’t give up hope! An opportunity for a change of path comes with an “event”. They do happen from time to time; lets hope there is someone on hand to point the new direction.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      So you’re claiming that Thatcher, Major, Blair, and Brown were all socialists? If not then there haven’t been decades of socialist rule.

  8. AN Grey
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Yes Mr Redwood,
    Quite correct again.
    However the West Lothian issue has long been a problem that appears easy to resolve, but has been avoided for years by all sides in parliament. I see this as a genuine example of the ineptitude and apathy of our parliament and their unwillingness to represent English people. Is there a better explanation for the failure to lance this boil?
    It is true that decisions are harder to make with more layers of bureaucracy, yet the opportunities to improve government are still not taken when offered, mostly due to political cowardice.

  9. Nick
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    The source of the death is closer to home

    225,000 pounds of government debt per taxpayer run up by you and you fellow MPs.

    That’s the millstone chained to the neck of brits.

    • APL
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Nick: “225,000 pounds of government debt per taxpayer run up by you and you fellow MPs. ”

      Nick, as far as I am concerned, John Redwood can take responsibility for my share as well as his own.

  10. Roger Farmer
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    While everything you say is true, the solution requires the UK to reduce it’s involvement in Europe and conversley their involvement with the UK to that of a trading partner, or EFTA status. Only following a clean break can we hope to reverse the appalling damage that this european fantasy has done to the fabric of what some of us remember as the British way of democratic life.
    Frankly I do not see the slightest indication among those that rule the coalition that they have any intention of bringing this about. The only hope the British have of fulfilling their declared desire of the above severance with Europe is the collapse from within of Europe itself. Should we sit around waiting while Europe conducts it’s death scene. No company should allow it’s competitors to dictate it’s business plan, and this is what an unelected Europe does in just about every meaningful aspect of UK life while our so called leadership wring their hands and do nothing.

  11. frank salmon
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    This attitude of the BBC and the intellectual elite worries me. The process of thought is to destroy or at least weaken Englishness. If they win on this there could ultimately be civil war as the voice less and oppressed English seek to reassert their identity. The more I think of the Blair Brown governments the more I think of the dissolution of the monasteries. It is very difficult to undo destruction.

    • Iain
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      “This attitude of the BBC and the intellectual elite worries me.”

      It is an interesting phenomena, something George Orwell noted in 1941 “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality”. It would be interesting to figure out why they hold these views, there is clearly something psychologically twisted in them. I have wondered if it stems from way back from the times of the Norman conquest when they were the Lords and Masters over the English, and that culture has been handed down from there. Then add in the British establishment who had the Scots , Welsh and Northern Irish who bolstered their English hating ranks.

      • frank salmon
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. Orwell would not have been surprised to see educational establishment textbooks in the 1970s happily declaring that the UK does not have a national identity, does not have a religion, does not have a race or creed. I wondered then, and I still wonder now, what out forefathers fought and died for in two world wars. I doubt our intellectual elite would want to tell us, but for sure, those that fought and died weren’t ‘in on it’.

  12. A.Sedgwick
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    A primary reason is FPTP. Nulabour obtained lethal and totally unjustified majorities with 43%,41% and 35% of the votes cast in their three “victories”.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      Oddly the Conservatives didn’t get a victory with 36.1% in the 2010 election. Also the Lib Dems got so few seat despite having 23% of the votes.

  13. lifelogic
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    As you say:- “The end result will be a more factious, more overgoverned, more overregulated United Kingdom” you were certainly right there but missed out “over taxed, undemocratic and uncompetitive”.

    Clearly you are right, but given we are where we are, given Cameron lost the election and given the power systems and voting systems that pertain, how can we escape from this mess.

    That is surely what we need to know.

  14. javelin
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Its one thing to talk about it – its another to identify a key decision and put pressure on the Government to make changes to Parliamentary rules to allow the English to decide on it.

    Action is needed on a single signficant issue rather than talking about it.

  15. Sue
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    “Labour’s constitutional blueprint is nothing more than a plan for the destruction of United Kingdom democracy. It threatens splits within the kingdom. It threatens transferring too much out of democratic control. It gives far too much ground to the federal plan on the continent. ”

    Whether you agree or not, it also seems like it’s a Conservative constitutional blueprint too. Cameron has yet to “claw” back one single power/act/statute/ridiculous idea from the EU!

    It has become obvious to all of us who care about our democracy that he is a total EU-enthusiast who uses the Liberal Democrats to cover his own zeal.

    By the way, what has happened to the “European Union Membership (Economic Implications) Bill?”

    Are you all so scared to find out the truth?

    • Jose
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Well said, couldn’t agree more but sadly we’re all being led by fools.

  16. Disaffected
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Quite simply there is no point to Westminster. I do not understand why there are so many MPs, the number should be be very low.

    I do not understand LibDems voting for EU rule over Britain and then expect the public to vote for them as individual MPs. In effect they want all powers given to the EU and are basically no use to man or beast as they would not have a say what goes on in the UK. Gravy train free loaders. It appears to me they all ought to be candidates for MEPs.

    This is why they want to create a system where it does not pay to work. Ashdown, again, like Hughes, this weekend does not want a cap placed on welfare lifers of £26,000. Might I suggest that it would be fairer if everyone earning below £35,000 should give up work and let the state pay for them. That seems equitable to me. Why let low paid workers pay tax to keep welfare lifers at home who receive more than them.

    Add to the mix the desire of LibDems to have more immigration and we have a freeloading EU system they crave for. I am not sure who will pay for all this when the Uk is broke, but logic and economics was never in the Lib Dems strategy of making the UK part of a pan European socialist state.

    • AN Grey
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Dear Dissaffected,
      The UK is BROKE.
      But this does not seem to enter the argument.
      The Welfare budget will be dressed up as another “investment” in our future.

      Listening to all sorts on the BBC this morning – even those on the right – refer to welfare payments as “earnings” is evidence of how far the perception of state assistance has shifted from its original intention.
      I understand from a GP friend who assists drug users that the day benefit is handed out is known a “pay day”.
      Why bother working – we’re doomed!

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        In light of the Lords ruling against effective welfare reform any demand for pay restraint on workers will widen the gap between them their richer benefit claiming counterparts.

        I had wondered why – in my area of economic ‘deprivation’ and high unemployment – the local shops can sell cans of Coke at 90p. Why housing is so expensive around here and why we struggle to get by on a dual income of £55k pa when we should be breezing it.

        Quite clearly markets are being distorted because we are competing with state sponsored consumers, benefit subsidised landlords and index linked pensioners.

        I am a Conservative by instinct.

        Henceforth (and with regret) I shall be pressing my union Aslef (via its journal) to stand against any attempts to impose pay cuts or wage freezes. This on the basis that many of our members are already paid less than welfare claimants – we would not wish the gap to become any wider.

        Yes A N Grey. I think we’re doomed too.

        Reply: One of the main reasons a combined income of £55,000 does not feel great is the state takes so much of it in taxes and charges.

    • Jonathan Tee
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      @ Disaffected

      I’m an old fashioned Classical Liberal, and I share your puzzlement re the Liberal Democrats. The problem is that the party today is a far cry from the Liberals of old so things like the EU – which are great in principle, bad in implementation – don’t hit the ideological alarm bells that they would have for someone like John Stuart Mill or John Locke.

      I was very excited by the prospect of a Liberal/Conservative government. I thought it was a great opportunity to show the country what the Liberals were made of. Today I feel like a wonderful opportunity for a return to the values that made us great (liberty, sound finances, free markets, small government) is passing the country by. In short the Lib Dems are singing a song that I don’t understand.

      However I can’t agree as far as Westminster is concerned. There I agree more with JR. I’m troubled by the growth of ‘independent’ bodies (who appoints them? – ‘no man is an island’ and all that), and of standing orders. A powerful Parliament, questioning the Crown, is the best bulwark against tyranny in this country. Perhaps more MPs would breed more independent thought? Certainly more peers would – pity Mr Cameron hasn’t had a James I moment.

      JR (If you catch this): Interested to know if/why you see Scottish independence as a threat? Looking at the Republic of Ireland, I can’t help think despite the recent problems, that they have fared better alone. Given they are a major trade partner (as would Scotland be) this is a good thing, surely?

      Reply: I do not see Scottish independence as a threat. As an Englishman I now want to know whether the Scots wish to stay with us, or leave. I can handle either result, but I think it is time to put up or shut up on independence.

  17. Steven Granger
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    You seem to have airbrushed the role of your party in all of this. The creation of regional government came via the Maastricht Treaty that was signed off by John Major when in power. For sure, Labour have an awful lot to answer for as you point out but your party is just as culpable. You may crow about the cutting back of regional government but regional assemblies still exist, still cost a fortune to run and still have considerable powers and (to my knowledge) there are no moves afoot to get rid of them. There are plenty of further examples of power transfers and new EU regulations, EU friendly decisions (eg HS2) and blocking of anything by your ministers that seeks to redress the balance. Just on Friday, your party blocked a bill that sought to undertake a cost benefit analysis of our EU membership. How can this be anything other than a sensible idea whether you are Eurosceptic or Euro enthusiast? So when you sit today in that talking shop that used to be the centre of government, eating your taxpayer subsidised steak and chips, try looking elsewhere when seeking to apportion blame for the current status quo – namely in the nearest mirror.

  18. Electro-Kevin
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Remember that the main impetus for this is a hatred of Englishness. From within the Continent to within the establishment of our own country.

    The Scottish claim to desire independence from rule from a distance of 400 miles within the same shoreline and yet would seem content to be ruled from Brussels.

    Paradoxically the Irish solution seems to be to unite within a single shoreline … and remain content with rule from Brussels.

    It would seem that the Californians are proud to be ruled from Washington so any claims about distance and cultural differences are entirely fatuous. Even to say that the Scots are ‘ruled by England’ is wrong given how many Scottish parliamentarians and ministers there have been.

    No.

    The issue is a visceral hatred of Englishness. From every Hollywood movie, every EU edict, every ECHR ruling, virtually every public inquiry into race, every Comprehensive School lesson, virtually every Government decision and so many of our own court decisions …

    The default mode is that the conservative minded English are always wrong, need their money taken off them, need to be bred out, dumbed down, shut up and slapped down.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      PS – I forgot to include the BBC in that litany of frustration and injustice.

      Of course the BBC will end up reaching for the wrong end of the stick and spoiling their analysis.

      This is because it has the inherent hatred and ashamedness of Englishness that I’m talking about. Bearing that one fact in mind one can safely predict the sort of answers they will come up with on a plethora of issues.

      Bear also in mind that they like Tony Blair and that they also seem content with David Cameron.

      I bet you don’t feel nearly so comfortable walking into their studios as Labour politicians and Europhiles do.

  19. Iain
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Are you surprised at the BBC coming out with such a response? I am not, it just confirms the BBC’s political and racist bias, if any was needed.

    The BBC is pro EU, thus it takes its lead from the EU and only views England as a place of regions. Just look at its structure, there is a BBC Scotland, there is a BBC Wales, a BBC Northern Ireland, there is even, to support their Cultural Marxist agenda, a BBC Asian network to give voice to those people, but there is NO BBC England. In the 2001 election the BBC offered a message boards for the Scots, Welsh, Northern Irish, and Asian people to debate their views on the forthcoming election. They did not offer English people the same, any views the English might have had had to be done on the NHS message board, this I though was a bit of a rum do, so challenged the BBC on it, they laughingly responded by sending me a BBC report, ‘Devolution, a BBC program response’ which dealt in some detail all the goodies and resources they were going to devote to BBC Scotland, and England? Well they did mention us three times, but only in a regional context. And as for getting to give England the same internet services, I was directed on to a disarmingly honest chap given the job of constructing an English BBC website, who said to me , ‘Well I am Welsh , if you could give me some ideas on what should go on a BBC England website it would be helpful’ , so here the BBC couldn’t give a fig for the ethnic sensitivities of the English, for they we happy to fob the job off to a Welshman. He then suggest I contact his BBC boss, Elonka Sorros who was responsible for diversity and regions. At which point I gave up.

    But don’t think anything has improved , after 12 years of devolution, the BBC still hasn’t seen to fit to give English people a collective voice, for there still isn’t a BBC England, and they still refuse to challenge the British politicians on their racist and discriminatory behaviour to the English. Any other group to have been so appallingly treated would have had the BBC manning the barricades for them and been in the face of politicians at every opportunity, but for English people we get nothing but silence from the BBC, if not obstructing the English people from breaking through to the political classes. When Gordon Brown anointed him self as Laird of England, the BBC decided to host a program where Martha Kearny, Evan Davis, and Nick Robinson put questions to the Party Leaders, questions they asked people to put forward to them on a special message board. Just to see if the BBC actually reflected the views of the people I tallied up the categories of questions , the two that came out in front, by a long way was the issue of pensions, and devolution/WLQ. Yet did the BBC press these topics and make Gordon Brown sweat on them? Well certainly not on devolution, on this we got one limp question before Martha Kearney cut in and said, ‘lets move on to more important topics’ .

    The BBC has an institutional problem, its culture is informed by two strands of thinking, the EU, and the left, both of which hate the English, as such we will never get a fait hearing from the BBC.

  20. Atlas
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    This morning the BBC carried the news that Croatia has voted to become EU surfs. I find it amazing that having fought for Independence so recently, all that sacrifice was being thrown away. The Croatian President has said “Croatia will not lose its sovereignty or natural resources, nor will it be ruled by the EU,” . What planet is he living on!!!

    So, John, I think the most relevant question is why the political class seems so keen on such moves? – Remember, it was the Scottish MPs who sold their Country down the River in 1705. From your Westminster perspective, what is the big appeal for most MPs of the EU?

    Reply: I often ask myself that question. It is not obvious to me what the appeal is for all this centralised expensive command and control. It appears that many of the federlist MPs are unaware of just how much power has passed, some genuinely believe in the idea of a United States of Europe, most of them are delusional in thinking we have to do all this to be able to import BMWs!

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Methinks the mindset of the continentals be very different to ours…
      They see ‘Europe’ as confirmation if not acclamation as to their being nation states.
      Jonathon Meades on BBC tv has a new series looking at France and the French. He summed it up brilliantly last week – in the twentieth century France fought in four wars – it lost those four wars. This, number of wars aside, applies to most of continental Europe. Blighty, as victor in all wars (Suez = a military victory followed by a political defeat) has a more assured outlook and suspicion of ‘grand plans’. We may be Europeans, but, we are not ‘Continentals’!

    • Rick Hamilton
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I believe that despite the genuine efforts of a few admirable MPs our parliament is just simply negligent in their general attitude to the EU. How can all these treaties have been signed handing over all these powers to a bunch of unelected EU bureaucrats – did nobody read them?

      In my experience of doing business with the British (from an Oriental vantage point) they are inherently much less enthusiastic about rules and regulations than the Germans or Japanese who practically live for fine detail. The British prefer the big picture and their eyes glaze over when endless reams of verbiage are presented. Didn’t Douglas Hurd say that after they had signed the Maastricht Treaty it was about time they read it? Just a bad joke I hope, but it betrays a certain attitude of mind.

      I suspect that’s the reason we seem to accept EU legislation at face value and put it into practice. Just cut and paste, add a bit more complication to justify your existence and there you are. Bound hand and foot for evermore by useless tripe that nobody ever asked for.

      On top of that if it’s a law we respect it, unlike the Club Med countries who will sign anything and then just ignore it.

    • Antisthenes
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      I can understand why many are keen on the concept of the EU. In theory it is a magical vision of many peoples living in peaceful prosperous harmony. In an area without internal boundaries that has free and fair trade being conducted within it. In a stable democratic and secure society capable of strong defences and being a major influence on the rest of the world. So euro-sceptics must ask themselves the question why are we so violently opposed to the EU are you like me not against the concept but against how it has been constructed. Is it it’s political orientation, it’s undemocratic institutions and processes, it’s porous external borders and it’s badly designed executive, administrative and economic systems. So do you hate the idea totally or just against what it has grown into?

    • frank salmon
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Surely it’s the subsidies they want!

    • Richard1
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      In Eastern Europe its much more about security. Talk to someone from the Baltic states & they’ll tell you the main benefit of EU membership is it means they’ll never again by ruled by Russia.

    • zorro
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      If the federalist MPs aren’t aware of what effective powers have been given away to the EU or what percentage of laws are effectively mandated by EU requirements, they must be either quite dim, or totally negligent in their duties, or know full well what they are doing and looking out for their own diverse interests which are connected to the success of the EU.

      Generally (and certainly true in the case of Scotland in 1706) the logic is naked self interest. Can the same accusation be cast at British politicians over the last forty years….?…….Quite possibly, but what it does show is a crashing lack of self confidence in the ability of Britain to make its way in the world as a free, democratic country. The little Europeans have a lack of vision.

      zorro

  21. i albion
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Electro-Kevin and Iain, never truer words hatred envy whatever these people are doing their best to define England out of existence but they have been found out .
    Let’s pray it is not to late.
    Starting devolution for Scotland and Wales was the best thing they could have done really how else would the English have found out what was to be their fate.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, I Abion.

      It’s worse than that. The hatred is based almost entirely on lies and distortions.

      The main one in Britain is that the ‘quality papers’ (The Guardian and Independant) have a better handle on the socio-political situation than the tabloid press.

      Dismay was expressed recently by a judge ruling on the case of an immigrant child rapist “Do we just let anyone into Britain these days ?” Doubtless a broad sheet reader.

      Clueless. Out of touch. Clearly not nearly as clever as she thinks. And she’s one of the better ones.

      Our people have had the patience of saints in recent decades, despite the offences committed against them by our own politicians.

      Not anywhere are we credited with resisting the urge to vote BNP.

      Not anywhere.

      In fact they still go on to lie about us being ‘endimically racist’ and small minded while our supporting politicians let them get away with it.

      • APL
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        EK: “Clearly not nearly as clever as she thinks. And she’s one of the better ones.”

        Yet she reduced his sentence.

    • forthurst
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I don’t agree with Iain on the origin of English ‘self-hatred’. This hardly gells with, “God for Harry, England and St. George” does it? In “Ivanhoe”, King John is the villanous exemplar of Norman usurpation. It is a much later phenomenon.

      When JR reports the BBC helpfully suggesting that “the answer to the sense of English injustice with the union was a bit more devolution to the northern cities!”, I’m not sure he was not aware that many of these had become extremely vibrant and that any such autonomy was unlikely thus to be of an English reactionary complexion.

      I do not think English self-hatred has ever existed. I just think the English are too polite and diffident in dealing with it. That needs to change. In particular, there needs to be an examination to establish the basis of BBC group think; who is actually at the back of it. When a BBC presenter says something objectionable, do not forget that it is the production management who are creating the script:

      • Iain
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        “I don’t agree with Iain on the origin of English ‘self-hatred’.”

        I would be happy to hear other arguments as to where this hatred of the English has originated, but I don’t think you can deny its there.

        I don’t think you can call it self hatred, for its the hatred of English from certain sections of Britain. It comes from the political left, and it comes from the British establishment, but as to why I am at a loss to explain. I have asked the question as to why the left are vociferously hostile to the English and have yet to get any answer to it.

        • forthurst
          Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

          I think you need to examine those groups who are not English and are influential in academe and the media. You need to develop a proper understanding of the Frankfurt school, its origin, methods and objectives. (Allegation left out-ed)

          PS Did you know the USS Enterprise, a very large and very old nuclear powered Aircraft Carrier which will shortly cost a fortune to decommission is heading for the Gulf?

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

          Self flagellation for colonial misdeeds

          Self flagellation for being unable NOT to see colour*

          Except they don’t self flagellate – they offer the whipping boys (us) instead.

          * I really do not see colour. I was raised in South London in the ’60s and ’70s at a sink comprehensive near Tooting and have known no other than racial diversity.

  22. Robert Taggart
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    One recalls Norman Tebbit some years back remarking upon the growth of the political class. In his day there were but two tiers of politics – Local (unitary) councils (County, County Borough, City Corporation, Urban District) – pre ’74; and National – UKGB (not NI until c.’72).
    Even if we continue to be members of the disfunctional European Union, that should give England no more than three tiers.
    THAT BE MORE THAN ENOUGH !

    • APL
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Robert Taggart: “– pre ’74; ”

      Ah! That would be the Tory Traitor Edward Heath.

      • Robert Taggart
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Indeed. The worst Tory post war premier.

  23. backofanenvelope
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It seems incredible that MPs could believe the things you mention. To be unaware of how much control has passed to the EU suggests they are brain dead. More likely, they are aware and don’t believe there is any way out. Or think it is a good idea. A good dose of honesty would help those of us who are not brain dead or MPs.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I don’t agree that it was inevitable that devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would tend towards the break up of the United Kingdom.

    The key flaw in the plan was and is the failure, in fact the obstinate refusal, to offer the English a form of devolution for England which they would find acceptable.

    And here the blame, or as they may see it credit, lies primarily with the eurofanatics, many of whom are also viscerally anglophobic, greatly assisted by the Englishman John Major agreeing to the establishment of the EU’s Committee of the Regions – another part of that “game, set and match for Britain” he achieved at Maastricht.

    Some of the misconceptions about the Scottish Parliament and government, which have been spread by both Scottish and English nationalists and which have helped to gradually inflame opinion both sides of the border, would not have arisen if an English Parliament and government had been set up at the same time on the same legal basis.

    I see no insuperable problems with having a representative assembly called a “parliament” in each of the four parts of the United Kingdom, with very similar powers devolved from a supreme federal parliament, the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

    Among others Australia has got to that constitutional position, by a different route:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliaments_of_the_Australian_states_and_territories

    and as far as I know it’s a stable position, with no prospect of Australia breaking up.

  25. javelin
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    There’s one important point that is overlooked.

    Closer union, since the Tudors, was created to stop Kings and Queens squabbling about power and religion. To stop the Scots from inheriting the monarchy and running England. That really isnt relevant today because democracy has replaced religion. The Union has actually had the reverse effect – of allowing Scottish Labour cabinets running England – than was originally intended.

  26. Rebecca Hanson
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    To be honest John, I feel that any account which flips straight from your predictions to the current situations without considering the practical realities which have driven affairs in the meantime is so superficial it’s negligent.

    The SNP has gained and gained in popularity because it has done a very good job of managing Scotland at a time when the Westminster parties have done shockingly bad jobs of managing affairs in England.

    Just as London has benifited from having the attention of a mayor, so Scotland has benefited from having the attention of an administration whose entire purpose is to run Scotland well. Why the heck would the Scots vote for parties which come up with Landsley’s policies for health or Gove’s for education.

    Who is going to say – yes please – we’ll replace our rolling policy of consulting on the future of schools in the context of the planning of integrated community services over a 10 year schedule from start to completion with a system where the person within a community who is the best disciple of a deeply ignorant Secretary of State for Education gets what they want?

    When you engage with reality many things become obviously.
    Firstly and most importantly, many support the SNP not due to nationalism but due to their doing a good job.
    Secondly – Westminster has the opportunity to win the future of the Union through intelligent debate if it admits its failings, shows due respect for what has been achieved and then proceeds to credibly and fairly win the higher level economic arguments for union which it should be able to do. If Scotland votes for independence it will be due the Westminster parties achieving new stratospheric heights of incompetency.

    Just as they must no lose their argument through ignorance and incompetence, it matters tremendously that the pro-unionists do not try to win their point through false arguments. Alex Salmond is clearly an expert at politicking and false arguments – he will outwit them in a heartbeat. The only way to beat him is to be consistently intelligent and honest at the higher economic level to show up his more dubious arguments and nationalistic stances which preclude pragmatism, honesty or intelligent debate for what they are.

    Reply: Mr Salmond was a keen supporter of the acquisitions and overtrading which brought RBS to its knees, and then he expected the UK to rescue it. Hardly evidence of good government.
    +

    • forthurst
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      I think the English can congratulate themselves in doing an extraordinarily good job in bankrolling the SNP’s popularity.

    • Rebecca Hanson
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. But to expect the Scots to listen to you you must accept and respect the aspects of Scottish life which have been well managed by the SNP. If you do that you have a coherent future position based on rational argument.

  27. Popeye
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    The BBC is well past it’s sell by date and is merely a mouthpiece for the Labour opposition. I should be broken up into it’s various constituent parts and sold off. The BBC speaks not for Britain.

  28. James Matthews
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    The BBC’s determination to convert a desire for a means of political expression for the English, as the English, into a case for regional or other forms of super-local government within England is really quite chilling. Our market dominating state broadcaster will do anything it can to prevent the English having a stronger voice, whether through an English Parliament, independence 0r English Votes on English Laws. We can expect it to get behind English regional government in the same way as it (without any great subtlety) got behind devolution to Scotland and Wales. This time though, wee Eck may thwart the best efforts of the Badly Biased Corporation.

  29. RDM
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    The original Welsh Devolution Referendum was illegal anyway; Less then 40% of the welsh people voted (38%)! And they didn’t vote in protest at the question “foisted” on them by Blair! He fiddled the result!

    All Referendums had to gain more then 40% of the vote, and the Referendum Act was repealed in 2006, after the vote!

    Before you start siting Wikipedia; get the BBC to replay the results program!

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink

      Are you referring to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 because this was passed 3 years after the Welsh referendum.

      • RDM
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        No, I mean the law that was repealed around that time. Anyway, the real issue is that I have recently seen, again, a copy of the BBC’s Results Program clearly showing a 38% turn out.

        The landlord of my local pub kept a copy. He’s a left wing nationalist, so he was not happy the day after the result was published!

  30. Barry
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    John
    “more devolution to the northern cities!” …but if there continues to be devolution why stop at just the Northern Cities? Use the German example which has 25 States. Scotland would equate to one state somewhere in population between Hesse and Saxony. Open our history books (rather like the Scots) and we would have little difficulty in awakening 24 other home brew states each with borders against the others but open to full access from other members of the EU!

    Blair was right. Devolution is clearly the salvation of the UK.

  31. Stephen Gash
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    A very reasoned and balanced article.

    However, I would add that party politics has failed the English people and has in fact polarised itself in the scramble for the centre ground. One absurd notion amongst Westminster MPs is that the opposition must oppose simply everything.

    Take one example, AV voting. Only Labour had it as a manifesto pledge, both Lib Dems and Tories ridiculing it. Post-general election the situation was completely reversed Labour opposing it and the coalition foisting an unwanted referendum upon England. I say England because English voters awarded the Tories a landslide victory – in England. Arguably, English voters had already rejected AV by kicking out Labour. Conversely, Scotland returned 41 Labour MPs out of a total of 59 Scottish MPs. So, we had a referendum on an already rejected Labour policy due to Scottish votes.

    Meanwhile, all parties are adamantly opposed to having areferendum on an English parliament, that all polls clearly say English voters want.

    This causes massive resentment and cynicism in England, leading to a paltry 28% turnout at the Feltham by-election. It was noticeable that Labour’s crowing about victory was short lived.

    Suppressing, not merely ignoring, English wishes does not auger well for either the United Kingdom or democracy. Party politics is also dying as a consequence, with membership dramatically falling over the past decade.
    Reply Conservatives remained consistent on AV, opposing it before and after the election.
    +

    • Stephen Gash
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Conservatives remained as consistent on AV as they do about denying the English (who voted them into office) even a referendum on an English parliament. On this simple matter of extending democracy to the majority of the population, the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems are as one; they are implaccably opposed. A veritable gaggle of Gaddafis.

  32. sm
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    ”Then the BBC ruined it, by saying the answer to the sense of English injustice with the union was a bit more devolution to the northern cities! No”

    The Northern cities have expressed their view and want no more irrelevant costly powerless talking shops. How about some progress on a little devolution from the EU. (They would prefer a £140 devolution from the monopoly protected state tax (EU allowed) on receiving TV broadcasts !). If they deserve state subsidies (out of general tax) they should get in line.

    BBC finances need to be reviewed including a specific law prohibiting funding from foreign political bodies or controlled entities. Particularly if they are in a position to influence key players or if (EU) funding comes with strings attached (like flags,emblems, product placement or worse etc). We need full transparency and disclosure here.

    The BBC should be forced onto an encrypted pay per view platform, with only public service broadcasting unencrypted.

    I choose no longer to pay this tax- the more that do the quicker change will happen.

  33. Stephen Gash
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    English nationalists are wary about Conservatives claiming they have stopped the regional carve-up of England. We have a close eye on Eric Pickles’s enthusiastic mergers of council CEOs and services, as we see this as regionalisation through the back door, EU-style.

  34. peter davies
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Reading through the comments I think the first by MARTYN is a very valid point.

    List the functions and powers of all UK governments with a brief outline of what they do.

    Add a red X next to each function where EU laws take precedent then show this to all UK parliamentarians then ask them to vote freely without whips on whether this is a good idea – this in my view would provide a sound stepping stone to that EU referendum the government are scared of.

    On the balance of UK government the solution should be quite simple as I was alluded to in your last post.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      Well this will create a list with no red X’s because if the function is controlled by EU law then if won’t be a function of the UK government.

  35. James Matthews
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    A job for you John, or perhaps for Denis Cooper? Or anyone?
    http://www.iaindale.com/posts/what-would-happen-if-britain-left-the-eu

  36. Graham Swift
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Tunisia , Egypt , Libya have all had their ‘Arab Spring ‘. Perhaps it is time for England to follow their example. Cameron , Clegg, Miliband and the Europhiles deny us the In/Out referendum which the majority of the electorate want. Perhaps we can get it by civil uprising.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Allow me to (start a people’s revolt etc -ed).

  37. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    The death of Britain? Not yet, thank goodness.

    Perhaps a dose of good medicine would help the ailing patient.

    I see from my calendar that March 12th is Commonwealth Day. It is good to know we still have a Commonwealth Day, though for all you hear of it in recent times it has been as it was no more. So how about promoting March the 12 as a day for celebrating the Commonwealth, and with it a time to remember what Britain has achieved and can do again.

    Is Commonwealth Day marked in Parliament?

  38. Barbara Stevens
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Well John, the BBC always make add lib remarks that are against what the indigenous peoples’ of these islands want, yet the majority of us pay the bills. I sometimes think why we allow it to continue. However, as far as voting is concerned I believe the AV system was completely wrong for this country. PR I could accept. We won’t have that so we have to have what we’ve got.
    I believe too, in English MPs voting on English things, and Scottish ones voting on Scotlands, and Wales voting on theirs. For a long time MPs of all parties have ignored people in this country, and this wouldn’t have happened if they had paid us all more attention. As for the devolution question, I’m all for keeping the union together, but not at any price. It needs to be renegociated with Scotland. This Salmond fellow is dangerous to the union and Scotland it’s self. He’s trying to impose his dreams and ideals on a whole nation. The sooner a referendum takes place the better so we all know where we stand. I’d like it within months or weeks.
    These are now dangerous times. If Scotland goes it alone the question of our nuclear subarines comes into question, Salmond wants them removed, he’s also said we should pay for the clearing up, yet, they’ve enjoyed the same protection from the same subarines. That to me shows how dangerours he is and his party. Its for the Scottish people to have these questions laid before them and expose Salmond and his party for what they are. Exploiting a nation for their own ends.
    This country is in turmoil from the last 13 years of a Labour government, it’s debts it ran up, it’s inept running of this country, and the devolution is allowed without proper safe guards. I just hope we and the Scottish people realise what they have done and they don’t assume power for decades again.

  39. Jon
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Trust the BBC not to see the obvious, a case of you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

    One thing the BBC does well is BBC Parliament and there I recently saw a fundamental change in the Scottish Labour MSPs or possibly a change anyway.

    Up until the last couple of weeks their Labour MSPs followed the SNP lead by blaming everything on London and Westminster. In a debate on a legal referendum the Scottish Labour MSPs didn’t blame everything on us for the first time. They only just realised that playing Alex Salmonds game and copying him might not be the best practice for Labour. I wonder how this revelation came about, was it a spontaneous collective eruption of intelligence for the brothers or a phone call from Labour HQ in London.

    Nationalism could mean Britain rather than its component parts. Better to be a Britain than a footstall for Germany and France.

  40. Hugh
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Yes John, and one of the key things that the English need to decide is whether they wish to give the Scots more £ than equality on a per caput basis, as the politicians have decided they wish to do since about 1920. The second is whether they wish to allow the Scots to secede.

    Then leave wee Alec to explain it to the Scots.

    A third point is whether people like me with property in Scotland, a history which includes about 6 times as many recorded years in Wick as we have spent in England (about 200 years, in England!) and with a Scots wife, whose late mother had to be reminded that her grandchildren were English, (but who bursts into tears when travelling North now, rather than South forty years ago) should be allowed to vote in the Scots section of the referendum. Complicated?

  41. David Hope
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t be quite so pro parliament, anti devolution. I think devolution can be a very good thing in terms of keeping spending close and relevant and accountable to those paying the taxes although I agree with a lot of your concerns there.

    As I see it, the problem here is where there is lots of duplication with assemblies, councils, westminster and the EU. I’d cut the latter out entirely and then have policies either Scottish, Yorkshire, London etc assembly, or Westminster with tax raised in the area where policy is made.

    Where council systems are opaque, where there is duplication or where local policy is based on central finance then I suspect accountability and efficiency will be lower than they should.

  42. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    @Mike Stallard: “We elect a person who holds roughly the same sort of views as we do”

    That would only work in a very homogenous constituency (a super safe seat). Otherwise, 28% may elect the MP (under fptp rules), leaving 72% frustrated and unrepresented on national issues. When I vote in national elections, I prefer to vote for a program and party, and, having about 200 names to select from, candidate MPs with enough preferential votes beat the ones that are higher on the list.
    A “practical system” isn’t necessarily a democratic system.

  43. uanime5
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    If all important issues are decided in the EU then the purpose of the UK Parliament will be to decide the best way to implement EU law. Something it currently does with regards to EU directives.

    If the representative for the UK is also behind those closed doors at Brussels meetings then democracy will be preserved.

    Also the voting system for Westminster does need changing. England is the only part of the UK that solely uses First Past The Post.

  44. REPay
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    The BBC suggesting Northern Cities have more power is purely a Labour Party position…the Prescott approach that was defeated. Devolution suited Labour’s idea to have some parts of the UK that are forever Labour. Now that has failed the North is to be hacked out as a statist bastion…forever Labour. Thanks BBC – the bias is not generally so obvious!

  45. Steven Whitfield
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, as a doctor of medicine you would be brilliant at identifying the symptoms of the patient but rather weaker when it comes to examining the illness and underlying causes.

    The symptoms you describe so brilliantly in ‘The Death of Britain’ are caused by the actions of a political elite united in hatred of their own country. Surely you can see that the misfortunes that have beset this country didn’t happen by chance or lack of judgement ?. They happened because our elected leaders stood back and allowed them to.

    The ‘modernisers’ or ‘cultural marxists’ etc. wish to change the nature of this country irrecoverably using the weapons of political correctness and mass immigration and others.

    They are so ashamed to be British (in it’s true sense) they would rather emerge us in a European Superstate than allow the people to have a proper voice. I think it illuminating to quote our Deputy PM Nick Clegg Mp. (the British) have “a misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur”.

    This is the elephant in the room that is never acknowledeged. If we cannot even bring ourselves to even acknowledge the existence of the unspoken truth, how can we start to attack this ideology and make any headway ?. Battle after battle has been lost when it comes to defending what is at stake….because we so often attack our oponents with paper darts and refuse to even stand on the battlefield.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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