Constitutional change I would like to see

 

           Restoring democracy to the UK requires the following steps:

1. Hold an early referendum on Scottish independence. I suspect the Scots will vote to stay in the Union. We can then get on with planning a stronger UK democracy.

2. You could then  create symetrical devolution. MPs elected to the Union Parliament could meet in their respective capitals two days a week to transact devolved business, and three days a week in London to transact Union business. London would be the capital of England as well as of the UK. Doubtless the Scots will wish to keep their double manning with different Scottish representatives for the Scottish Parliament. This should require rethinking the pay and rations of their MPs at Westminster,once they do not participate in decisions on England.

3. Renegotiate our relationship with the EU, and put the result to a vote of the UK people to answer the question if they wish to stay in the EU on the revised terms.

4.Complete the abolition of all English regional government

5. Abolish more quangos

6. Complete the reform of the Lords

7. Strengthen the Commons further

 

I will be writing in more detail about each of these in turn in future posts.

 

 

 

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81 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Indeed your policy sounds good but will it ever happen. The region are part of the EU plans to remove all serious power from Westminster a policy clearly cheered on my many MPs and Ministers.

    • Disaffected
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Spot on. Too many layers of government already that we cannot afford. Is Pickles going to do anything about this in this parliament? How long does it take?

      Any reason why Green cannot stop or cut immigration (in all its forms including asylum seekers) after two years in office? Immigration has increased under this government than under Labour. Birth rate has increased four times to what it was in 1980. 1 in 4 children in schools are from immigrant families, any LibDem thought how the UK will afford public services in the future? I still fail to see why our brave servicemen are in Afghanistan allegedly to prevent terrorism when hundreds of thousands of immigrants from this part of the world (come-ed) to the UK each year.

  2. Kevin Ronald Lohse
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Dear John. I would suggest that one of the problems we have with our democracy is the over-mighty Executive embedded in the Commons. If we are agreed on that, then how do you strengthen the Commons without strengthening the Executive? Scrutinising committees are all very well, but if they can safely be ignored by the Executive, how do you give committees teeth which cannot be ignored?

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      One simple way would to be to reduce the payroll vote. We’ve got ministers for waste, toothbrushes and road signs.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    OK But this is urgent.
    The trouble aboard the Costa Concordia seems to have been, according to the papers, that the Captain was busy elsewhere and he did not attend properly to running his boat. The result was disaster.
    Our institutions are just like that at the moment. A tiny group of unelected second raters in Brussels runs a huge bureaucracy that has linked with our own bureaucracy bypassing parliament. Scotland’s parliament therefore, too, is little more than a talking shop. So are the regional governments. The UK is not Spain with a Basque problem – yet (Ireland is coped with).
    And more and more wrong decisions are being passed through from the cabal/commission down the line. Without a Captain – our parliament – on the bridge, I am afraid that the dear old Concordia is going to crash.
    We need action today on all points.

  4. Pete the Bike
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    1. Include the English in the vote and the outcome might be different.
    2. Reduce the hours of MPs so that they pass fewer bad laws and dedicate at least 1 day a week to repealing old laws.
    3. Leave the EU.
    4. and 5. and 6. Agreed
    7. Strengthen in what way? Would it be necessary if we are not dominated by the EU regime?

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      There is a problem here.
      When the EU referendum finally comes about, will everyone in the EU have to have a vote on “in or out?”

  5. Atlas
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    John,

    RTE Radio has just broadcast excerpts of a lecture given in Ireland by an ex vice Chancellor of Germany. In it he was definitely using the word ‘Europe’ to mean a country. Interestingly he talked about the EU replacing the ‘Nation-State’, yet upon further reflection of his words he just seemed to be replacing the present Nation-States with another called ‘Europe’. Recently I’ve noticed this use of the word Europe occurring more and more frequently in political utterances.

    He told the Irish Audience that a ‘No’ referendum decision by them on the fiscal union proposals would be a disaster, yet although he talked about democracy in Europe, he seemed oblivious of the point that perhaps Europe should be more than a Franco-German carve-up. I call it an attempt to cast a Franco-German Empire in stone.

    I wonder why other EU leaders do not exercise a bit of ‘Democracy’ and stand up to the F-G axis? It strikes me that your other laudable constitutional thoughts pale into insignificance in the face of this Elephant in the Room.

    • APL
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Atlas: “He told the Irish Audience that a ‘No’ referendum decision by them on the fiscal union proposals would be a disaster .. ”

      No mention of the disaster the Republic is already being subjected to.

  6. Robert K
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The other issue that needs to be addressed is the imbalance between the state and the citizen. When the state excises half of the income of the citizenry one has moved beyond democracy into an elected tyranny.
    The constitutional settlement of the UK is important, sure, but so long as the outcome of our democracy is a overweening, over-expanded and ever-stifling state we will have no chance of the individual liberty that is essential for long-term prosperity.

  7. Javelin
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I agree except with your first point. I don’t think holding the Scottish referendum later will effect the out come of the election. I think the UKs fiscal position is about to get a lot worse as massive deleveraging carets on. That will make the Scots more likely to stick with the Union. I also don’t feel uncomfortable with powers being tossed back and forth until a comfortable equity is met.

    I think you missed a trick in stating the underlying principals of democracy being applied. Those principals being based on accountability.

    That is to say responsibilty and democracy can only work through accountability. That means more transparency. So getting rid of regional Government is to make local and national government more accountable. The Lords should be reformed to make it more accountable. This should extend across business so directors pay should be accountable to shareholders.

    Whilst I agree with your changes I would like to see them based on principals and I think accountability creates good Capitalism and Good Government.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    With you on 1,2, 3.

    Perhaps also with you on 4, 5.

    Wait to hear what your detailed solution/changes are to 6, 7.

  9. Amanda
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    8 Throw out all the law that was inposed on England, purely through the votes of MP’s representing Scotland.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      As only 59 of the 650 MPs are from Scotland they can’t impose anything purely through their own votes. Especially since England has nearly 10 times as many MPs.

  10. lojolondon
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Yes, John, Yes. That will be fantastic. Let’s hope!

  11. Nick
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Vince Cable has just put forward a bill on executive pay.

    Is he going to practice what he preaches and now put forward a bill on MPs pay?

    You know, the bill where the constituents get to vote on how much you are worth.

    Thought not. Too busy scamming us to give us control

  12. Nick
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Lords should be reformed to make it more accountable.

    =========

    Yep. Got rid of – completely. There is no need. MPs can do their job properly.

  13. John Page
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    3 is impossible (why should they agree) and Mr Maude’s making a hash of 5. Still, multiple objectives allow you to pay less attention to the more intractable ones.

  14. lojolondon
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    One more item – The BBC. It is totally biased and left-leaning in it’s coverage. It should be radically cut back and perhaps totally privatised, as all it does now is spew leftie propaganda to the world.
    The BBC is pro-Labour, pro-Democrat, pro-EU, pro-Palestine, pro-Global Warming, pro-rioters, anti-police, anti-establishment and anti-everything that is British.
    Hundreds of managers and ‘directors’ receive over 100kpa, and the Salford move has been a politically motivated waste of a Billion pounds. 65% of output is now re-run material, so it is not fit for purpose in any way.
    At the very least, we need a pragmatic, honest cost-cutter at the helm who is NOT a product of the Labour party.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Only 9% of jobs at the new BBC site have gone to local people. This is most likely the low paid roles.

    • APL
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      lojolondon: “One more item – The BBC.”

      Agreed, but why has Cameron not done anything about the BBC?

      Well look at some of the programmes.

      ‘Has Beens’ like Portillo, used the politics programme to launch his ’round Britian on trains’ programme.

      Don’t forget that Dianne Abbot, who’s first response to not getting her own way is to blame ‘whitey’, they both are getting plenty of cash from the BBC for each appearance.

      Edwina Curry, she who single handedly decimated the British egg production is on a ‘nice little earner’ thanks to the media.

      The fees the BBC pays must add up to quite a pretty sum. Is is surprising the ‘pols’ don’t do anything about the cancerous organization?

    • Bob
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Did you know you can watch catch up TV on your PC without a licence?
      Not that there’s anything worth watching.

      The way to deal with the BBC problem is for ordinary people to stop supporting it, the politicians are running scared, especially after what happened the the Murdochs when they challenged the BBC’s dominance.

      So, it’s down to us! If enough people wake up to the problem and stop paying them the whole rotten edifice will crumble.

      Reply: This site supports democratic change, not law breaking.

      • APL
        Posted January 27, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        JR: “This site supports democratic change, not law breaking.”

        So do we, but when you see the glaring disconnect with the results of an election and the policies carried out by the new administration, it is hardly surprising that discontent sets in.

        As to breaking the law, it is not so far as I understand, breaking the law to watch prerecorded material on your television.

        since a programme streamed across the internet is not ‘broadcast’ it is demand driven, the terms of the broadcasting license, it seems to me do not apply.

        Therefor, no need for a Television license if you (i) watch DVDs or tapes, (2) or watch streamed non broadcast content across the internet.

  15. Andrew Smith
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    It would be better to have a UK wide referendum on points 1 and 2 together. I doubt the political class would let go of Northern Ireland.

    Any work been done yet on distributing the debt burden, because if most tax raising is to go to the federal elements (they are not all “nations”), then the central governemnt could become little more than a defense and debt manager.

  16. Caterpillar
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    1 and 3 seem different, but it is not obvious why. 1 appears to be held between independence and staying in WITHOUT terms yet renegotaited, 3 appears to be held between ‘independence’ and staying in WITH terms already renegotaited.

    7. I think a strengthened Commons would benefit from a 2-vote MMP. (and ratios of MPs from regions could thus be adjusted).

    4 (&2). And move centre of English politics to centre of England (they’ll be a nice fast train).

  17. English Pensioner
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    We need US style “Confirmation Hearings” before people are appointed to senior non-elected posts, particularly in respect of our senior judges, but also in respect of the Heads of Quangos, major diplomatic appointments and top Civil Servants.
    All departmental budgets should be scrutinised by the appropriate Select Committee before approval, with the Permanent Secretaries being questioned as necessary.
    But most of all, in a proper democracy, all constituencies should have approximately the same number voters (say within 5%). The present system of smaller constituencies in Scotland, Wales, and some Cities giving them over-representation can not be justified and needs to be corrected.

  18. MajorFrustration
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I suspect that quite a few of your points would have been on your list five yrs ago – not much progress then. Whilst I support the list, should we not get away this type of “wish list” Please dont tease me with either the prospect of democracy or the suggestion that outside the front bench MPs actually have any power or influence.

  19. sm
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    2) Devolved business for 2 days a week, (re: WLQ please clarify) and 3 days a week for Union business, please clarify the split between UK and EU?

    6) Complete reform of the Lords- Yes but not full-time sinecures for the old ‘girls & boys’. 850 is massive what is the FTE and the fully loaded oncost for them per capita.

    If it is a revising chamber then it needs those qualities – not evident in some of the Lords more overtly partisan political appointees.

    The cost of politics needs to fall much further, specifically pensions and non-salary costs. Revisit the need for on-site accomodation next to parliament for the duration of terms and investigate technology to enable offsite voting by MP’s, via digital attendance.

    Dont forget – the whip system, manifesto pledges, recall, ECHR, and referenda issues to stiffen resolve on the political Gordian knot (politically difficult or pc suicidal) issues of the day.

    Maybe the solution lies in ancient Greece.

  20. oldtimer
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Re your point 2, I do not see why the same MP should not do duty in both the devolved assembly and in the Union Parliament so that as taxpayers we have to pay for only one MP not two. If Scotland wishes to divide the role between two persons, then they should split the salary and expenses accordingly.

  21. Mark, Edinburgh
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Agree with most of your points, especially single UK/Devolved MPs.

    However I would be chary about London as the permanent UK capital.

    Remember a lot of Celtic nationalism is about the emotionalism around concepts such as “respect” and “equality” which is simply exploited by the politicians out to feather their own nests. “London rule” will always be said to be “English rule”. It’s not about facts or logical argument.

    The way to counter this problem is surely obvious and that is to move the UK parliament around the four capitals, say once a year – I know this means additional costs but there could be many benefits as well. I wouldn’t split it 3 days/2 days, but maybe on a monthly plus basis to reduce travel.

    Once businesses in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast are locked into the money that would flow from the presence of the UK parliament you would pretty soon find many of nationalist financial backers start quietly drifting away. Actually this was the same tactic employed by the medieval court?

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Alternatively the UK capital could be somewhere an equal distance from London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast such as Manchester or Leeds.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      “The way to counter this problem is surely obvious and that is to move the UK parliament around the four capitals, say once a year ”

      Now that’s what I’d call a revolution in Parliament !

      Alas – I think you’ve hit upon something as regards the childishness of it all.

      ‘London rule will always be said to be English rule’ sums it up brilliantly and has been true regardless of how many Scots have ruled over us.

    • Mark Polden
      Posted January 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      I would question whether it wouldnt be a better thing to do to retain London as capital of the union but to move an english parliament to Birmingham. I for one am heartily sick of the way this countries focus entirely on London and the south east (london gets the olympics, more money for transport etc)

  22. JoolsB
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    John,
    You’ve missed out the most important part. “CREATE AN ENGLISH PARLIAMENT” This ‘Kingdom’ will never be united let alone stronger until we have one.

  23. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    You missed one:

    8. Abolish Fractional Reserve Banking – separate Investment Banking from Deposit Account Banking. Bring back Government created money.

    If you do not reform the monetary system, all other proposals are meaningless. You will need money to operate your new constitutional changes and we are still deficit spending. If the Government cannot allow a true free market Banking System (without Government Subsidies) then the economy will Kangaroo between Boom & Bust infintitum. Democracy requires Government to regulate and control the money supply while allowing the Free Market to use that money how it pleases. At present the Banks control the money and they regulate the currency. If you don’t control the money – you control very little and as a consequence; the UK public conttrols very little. If you are serious about democracy, then get serious about monetary reform. At least listen to your colleagues such as Steve Baker MP and Douglas Carswell MP. Please.

  24. Richard Lucas
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    It is for the people of Scotland, and their elected Government, to decide when a referendum on Independence to be held. A Westminster imposed earlier ballot would be very likely to result in Independence.

    • Quietzaple
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      You may be right that a Tory imposed Referendum
      is more likely to result in a scots vote for independence.

      The Union was agreed by both parliaments and if they wish to derogate their decision to referendum it should cover the entire electorates of the UK, after all it affects us all.

      There are more important constitutional matters to be considered: the abolition of the monarchy, bringing Jersey etc into a regular tax and legal position, progress towards political and economic union with France.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      When the sovereign UK Parliament created the devolved Scottish Parliament and government through its Scotland Act 1998 it took care NOT to grant them the legal authority to hold any such referendum, and no doubt if the issue went to court the clear will of the UK Parliament would be upheld.

      If’/when Scotland became an independent sovereign state then its Parliament could order whatever referendums it wanted, but not yet.

  25. BulloPill
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    “3. Renegotiate our relationship with the EU, and put the result to a vote of the UK people to answer the question if they wish to stay in the EU on the revised terms.”

    I’d suggest “The Colleagues” have no intention of offering “revised terms”. That there’s some other way of being “in Europe” is a mirage. We don’t have a “relationship” WITH the EU. The UK is part of the EU. My left leg does not have “a relationship” with the rest of me, it’s a part of me. Same thing applies.

    The last time we, the public, had any say was in 1975, when the rigged vote was about the “Common Market”. Since then, our parliamentarians seem to have been asleep whilst governments of whatever stripe have ceded our authority to the unelected, unaccountable apparatus of what’s become the EU. Most of our statutes now have their origins in Brussels, with our parliamentary representatives nodding through new regulation after new regulation, with neither will or power to object.

    The recent Croatian referendum is thought by many to have been rigged to ensure a “Yes” to entry. But the truth is that Croatia now intends to apply for membership based on the “Yes” of a not-very-big minority of the population. I fear any referendum held here would be likewise rigged – the “stay-in” camp would get massive funding from the vested interests of the crony corporates, the BBC State Broadcaster, with it’s antipathy to anything that looks too “British” would display all its expected bias, and the public, largely unaware of the true supranational destination of the “EU train” will be hoodwinked, because any scant attention received by the “out” campaign will be dismissive, hostile or both.

    There is no cure to the shackles of the EU other than a complete withdrawal and re-establishment of our historic Constitutional rights, Laws and responsibilities . Declarations of intent to “renegotiate”, Conservative “EU sceptics” and the whole of UKIP are merely lightening conductors to draw attention away from this truth, whilst the secretive, shadowy organisations such as Bilderberg intent on promoting global co-ordination of governance continue their anti-democratic work.

  26. Toque
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    The Lords has been effectively ruined, and the last thing we want is another elected chamber full of party apparatchiks. So turn the Lords into a slimmed down British Parliament with powers of scrutiny over the devolved national parliaments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Dual mandate MPs are a bad idea. They will cause a conflict of interest in Parliament and Government.

  27. Hedd Wyn John
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    The Scottish people are sovereign. The coalition government in Westminster has no mandate to impose a referendum on Scotland. The coalition parties did not campaign on a referendum for Scotland and their representation in Scotland is paltry.
    Imposing a referendum would be foolish, but go ahead and see what happens. Imposing conditions on Scotland is great ammunition for the SNP and ruling out devo-max is breathtakingly narrow-minded. Devo-max has strong support in Scotland and ruling it out would merely infuriate Scottish voters many who would rather greater powers for Scotland rather than outright independence. Of course this narrow-minded and myopic attitude from the Tories is the precise reason why support for the conservatives in Scotland has plummeted since the 1980s. Treat Scotland with an arrogant contempt and Scottish voters will do the same to you.

    • Bickers
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Seems you want your cake and to eat it i.e. to have control over how you’re ruled but with the English continuing to fund the SNP’s largesse. I think it’s Wee ‘Eck who’s treating English voters with arrogant contempt. The reality is that until you vote for Independence Cameron is your Prime Minister and Westminster (and the EU) who decide most of you laws.
      I for one would like to see Scotland remain in the Union, but we can’t continue to have this nonsense where English students have to pay fees at your Universities (but no one from Europe has to) & your students get the same deal at English Universities as English students.
      Without the public sector Scotland would be a basket case (as would be certain parts of England) – why d0 so many aspiring Scots get the hell out of your country and work in England?

    • James Matthews
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Fine. Just so long as they really do vote for full independence we will all be happy.

    • Stephen Gash
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      52 million people in England are fed up with the titchy tartan tail wagging the mighty English bulldog. As it happens the Welsh are fed up with it too as the proportion of them wanting Scotland to leave the UK is similar to that of the English.

      Many of us think we’d be better off without Scotland, particularly with its blackmailing “we’ll leave the Union if we don’t get what we want” attitude. However, devo-max would put we English in an even worse situation than now, unless we get our own parliament to match Scotland’s, with equal powers.

      So, we won’t accept being excluded from any devo-max referendum. We’ve been excluded from the home-rule decision-making for 14 years, so we will have our say at the next referendum thank you very much.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish_independence_referendum_fresh_trouble_for_alex_salmond_over_adviser_s_damning_e_mails_1_2073649

      “ALEX Salmond was last night embroiled in fresh allegations of “distorting the truth” in a row with a leading expert who clashed with the SNP over the independence referendum.

      One of the First Minister’s closest advisers has been accused of orchestrating a “cover-up” after urging Professor Matt Qvortrup to publicly denounce his own claims that a second referendum question on more powers for Holyrood was untenable.”

      “Controversy erupted over the affair last October, when Prof Qvortrup declined to accept the Scottish Government’s version of events. Mr Salmond was forced to apologise to parliament when it emerged that he had misled MSPs by wrongfully claiming that a letter from Prof Qvortrup had been sent to the Times recanting his criticism of the three-option referendum.

      Now, the full extent of Mr Pringle’s attempts to get the academic to change tack, after his views appeared, have come to light. Mr Pringle drafted a letter for the academic to send to the newspaper recanting the criticism of the SNP’s plans – then urged Prof Qvortrup to claim that he had acted first without interference from the government.”

  28. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I take it the list is neither one of priority nor of sequence.

    Get on with 4 and 5 right away.

    Scottish independence is too emotional an issue to be rushed. A quick result will not settle the matter if too many hearts are unmoved. Better to allow the debate to run its course: the more the consequences of independence are explored the less appealing it will become. And it will be as well to simultaneously make the case for the Union.

    A further issue of governance is local authorities, which are a mess: structure, responsibility, resources and authority.

  29. Robert Taggart
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    John, agreed – more or less, but, how then to stop all those Celtic ‘carpet baggers’ from becoming candidates for English seats ? Not sure of the numbers, but, they be too many – even if they be on our ‘wavelength’ (Eric Forth – much missed on parliament TV) ! Also, how many English ‘carpet baggers’ hold or even contest Celtic seats ? – not many methinks.
    The Celts can keep there in dependent bodies, but, THEY should have to pay a tax surcharge for the privilege.

  30. Martin
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    On the subject of double manning – there have been no complaints that Scotland’s post devolution laws are any better or worse for the lack of a House of Lords.

    Perhaps Westminster would be better off without paying the supplementary pensions to old politicians known as House of Lords attendance allowances/expenses. (Then again maybe that’s why the Lords are not keen on benefits caps!!) Does the House of Lords have any real value?

  31. Siôn Eurfyl Jones
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    You should have thought about this 25 years ago, then you might have had a chance with it, but, like most entrenched ’empire’ unionists, you haven’t realised than IT’S TOO LATE NOW!

    Imposing a referendum on Scotland would fbe to play straight into Salmond’s hands, and would ensure a YES vote. It appears. John, that you understand Scotland, and are in tune with its people to the same extent that you were when with the Welsh when you were imposed as our governor general – completely out of touch and out of your depth.

    Scotland will have its freedom whatever you say – in fact, the contributions to this debate from London politicians like you make this more certain every time you make them.

    • Stephen Gash
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      The Welsh and Scots are as “in tune” with English people as the Brits. All three are clouded with their own anti-English prejudices. They all think we English will supinely accept our country disappearing for the sake of this so-called “Union”. We will not. Nor will we any longer accept being treated as third class, while simultaneously being subjected to Celtic demands.

      My own view is, the backlash from the English to the Union and our fellow Brits will be severe. The longer the elastic band of tolerance is, the harder it smacks one in the face when it snaps. English tolerance is at breaking point.

  32. Acorn
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “And will there be honey for tea?”. I will be interested in your thoughts JR, as always but, we have to accept that all empires decline and we Brits have had a good run for our money. Just like the Roman Empire and Italy today, ours is declining from the inside out. The debasing of our culture; our standards and our values is well advanced. Deviance from the norm is now the new norm.

    PS. The “regions” are still required for Eurostat NUTS and Euro MEPs. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/geography/beginner-s-guide/eurostat/relationship-of-nuts-to-uk-administrative-geographies.html

  33. Iain Gill
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    ban any minister who is part of a government which fails to deliver one of its basic promises from ever holding public office again, let see now starting with the failure to cut immigration by the current lot?

    defend why not…

    • Conrad Jones (Cheam)
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      “ban any minister who is part of a government which fails to deliver one of its basic promises”

      …like Nick Clegg – for instance ?

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        nick isnt the worst, at least he is honest about the compromises he made as part of joining the govt

        on the other hand the stated aims of the wider govt are still reducing immigration and their every action demonstrates quite the reverse, i think the home secretary and all her ministers should be first in line

        lets call it “dishonesty in public office” and make the penalty a ban from holding public office for life

  34. Rufus English
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood makes one almighty assumption which is that the English are satisfied with Westminster’s governance of England! – HUGE error – With transport infrastructure spending at £2,700 per head in London and the south those regions have every reason to be content, complacent, and even smug; Westminster has served them well. But the same is far from true for the North West/West Yorkshire/North East where transport infrastructure spending is a little as £5 per head by comparison. Sheffield has been waiting over 40 years for a direct motorway link to Manchester; the original proposal cost was £26million! Since then Westminster has spend over £100bn on London transport alone!

    Decades of utter cross party contempt for Northern England has created a North/South divide that I believe to be impossible to bridge. “Devolution Max” will not be the governance of Scotland, alone. The docile, colonial-minded incompetents of Westminster and Whitehall have steered Britain towards German styled federalism!

  35. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Fair enough. But how about a change in the attitude that every failure MUST have new detailed laws and controls put in place.

    In my opinion there are sufficient laws in place to prosecute any wrong doing, it just needs the will to apply them. All the extra baggage and procedures that are imposed just impede the law abiding. The law breakers ignore them anyway.

    An example: the laws passed to restrict money laundering have made opening a bank account unnecessarily difficult for an ordinary person. Crooks still seem to manage to launder their money anyway.

    Similarly there are many laws to regulate child care. Why? Bad things do happen, but they can be punished under ordinary laws. All the extra regulations just interfere with ordinary life and distort the market.

    I have no direct knowledge of the laws affecting small businesses… but I understand that many of them require a disproportionate amount of effort for the ‘good’ they allegedly do. And they are ignored by the lawbreakers anyway.

    Lets resist the urge to establish new regulations and controls every time there is a alarmist newspaper headline.

  36. Winston Smith
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    8. Abolish the State funding of unions and union activity. The merry-go-round of taxpayers money between unions and the Labour Party needs to be halted. The fact I’m paying for so many closet communists to continue to undermine my family’s quality of life makes me sick. The latest £500k wasted on a Haringey teacher (who has not taught for 10yrs) to do conduct political militancy on behalf of the NUT and the Labour Party is the tip of the iceberg.

  37. Quietzaple
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Just the sort of London centricity which may destroy the Union. Some never learn.

  38. Conrad Jones (cheam)
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    In order for the Scots to gain democratic control over their lives – without the risk of outside forces lobbing spanners into their economy: Do they need their own Currency – Independent of the Bank of England and requiring an exchange rate with the English Pound ? (Remembering that Scottish Banking in the 18th to mid 19th Centuries was one of the most successful Banking models of all time – Free Banking, single clearing house – no bank bailouts).

    Would this new Scottish Currency (or currencies) fail as their main export would have to be purchased in Petrodollars? What if Scotland said NO to the US Dollar and demanded payment for their Oil in a new Scottish Pound backed by Gold? What would happen then I wonder?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      yea yea they can have the debt of the royal bank of scotland too

  39. Dan H.
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    To get rid of the current farce where some Northern Irish seats are contested, an candidate elected and then this candidate then refuses to take the oath and participate in Parliament, simply add a simple rider similar to that in all employment contracts: to be paid for this job and receive expenses for your office, you must take the oath and participate.

    If an elected candidate then does not wish to do his/her job, then fine, that’s their choice but we don’t fund the numptie. Adding in a system for recalling an elected representative would also be an improvement.

  40. Bickers
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    JR please add to your list a law that is passed that doesn’t allow the Government in any Parliamentary term to exceed spending of X % of GDP over that term (as set out in their manifesto), excluding War (i.e. where an enemy is threatening to or actually attacking the UK or any of its dependent Territories). Maybe then, Parties can set out how they intend to limit taxation and achieve for money for the tax payer.

  41. Stephen Gash
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The House of Lords is an anachronism. Replace it with an elected English parliament and have the UK House of Commons vastly reduced in size and holding cabinet meetings in each nation’s capital. Abolish the peerage altogether as it has held back economy, culture and social molbilty for far too long.

  42. backofanenvelope
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    How about adding War to the list? The government can defend us including counter-attacking. It cannot decide to attack anyone who has not attacked us. So – no invading Afghanistan and no bombing Libya – or Syria.

    • forthurst
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Can we invade Iran, please? Do say yes; little Willie Hague seems to have set his heart on it and he will be so so disappointed if you say no. He is so looking forward to the pats on the back he will get from the grownups in Washington and other parts of the ME where these things are decided.

  43. Frances Matta
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m with lojooflondon. You’ll never get it passed by the BBC.
    I’d include making the BBC abide by its Charter obligation of impartiality in its news and current affairs coverage a given. It has received money in the form of loans and grants from the EU and Patten is the Chairman. Conflict of interests comes to mind.

  44. Anne Palmer
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    1. Should the Scottish vote to break up the United Kingdom, then great-AS LONG AS THEY REMAIN IN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND IT FREES THE REST OF THE UK. Or maybe as there will be NO United Kingdom any more, so none of us are in the EU any more. Problem Solved! The break up of the UK then abolishes the Act of Union and we lose 45 Scottish MP’s from the House of Commons and 16 Scottish Persons from the House of Lords. The Break away, may also touch on the Act of Settlement so that too may have to be addressed.

    2. This would not apply should the above re (1) happen.

    3. Easier to hold the referendum on whether to re-join the EU. I think we know exactly what that result would be.

    4. Most definitely
    5. Ditto
    6. Suggest the Hereditary Peers are brought back because all each Government has done is destroy the very reason why House of Lords came about, for each major Political Party to abuse the system so that they can put in ‘has been’s,’ cronies, and those that the people have rejected come election time.
    7. People will still vote for MP’s as they do at present.

    • uanime5
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      How are Hereditary Peers any better than ‘has been’s,’ cronies, and those that the people have rejected come election time? Surely it should only be composed of life peers that have cross party support.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        just pick people at random for the house of lords like jurys

  45. forthurst
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    “6. Complete the reform of the Lords.”

    At one time the Lords was totally representative of the authority of the Realm under the Monarch. Now it representative of no one. Some people are there because of their bankrolling of parties, vibrancy, politicians put to grass. Absolute disgrace.

    Proper reform has not yet begun and the first question should be whether we need it in any form at all.

    When looking at the original structure of the Lords, it reminds us that it was representative in a way that the HoC is not: the representation was genuinely of all parts of the Realm rather than now where so many MPs can go home on the tube and occasionally visit a property and pretend to take an interest in some part of the country that neither they nor there ancestors ever inhabited.

  46. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Despite the additional cost, it should be:

    1. The present UK Parliament and government, based in London, to become the federal Parliament and government dealing only with “reserved” matters.

    As that includes foreign relations, and that includes everything to do with the EU, MPs would not be short of work and might even start doing it properly.

    2. Four devolved Parliaments and governments, with the separate English Parliament and government based outside London, preferably in the midlands.

    The UK government apparatus could be greatly reduced in size when all England-only matters were transferred to the English government.

  47. Chris Green
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    i totally agree with Mr Redwood, especially the closing down of regional assemblies and a full English Parliament, that would bring back some stability to the UK and equality nationhood and constitution rights to the English, ending the Westminster discrimination started by Liebour. Good one

  48. Angus McLellan
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood is hiding his light under a bushel. He doesn’t seem to have mentioned that he was on BBC Newsnight Scotland yesterday. I doubt whether many readers of this blog are regular watchers of the programme but watching the interview on iPlayer – here – doesn’t put money in the BBC’s already over-full coffers. It starts at about 6 min 15 sec in. Worth a look.

    • Iain
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      Interesting, we seem to get more of a debate about English identity from the Scottish newsnight program than any debate the BBC would off the English people. Here in England the BBC pretty much censored the report about the rise in English identity, its almost as if the BBC dosen’t want to repsent views in England.

  49. Andrew Johnson
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    1) I suspect this is not a priority for most English people, more of a growing irritation. If the Scots want independence then let them have it, and the Northern Irish and the Welsh, but it has to be real independence – no more English subsidy except on a quid per quo basis.
    2) Sounds ok if costs don’t rise, and definitely no voting allowed on purely English matters and legislation by devolved MP’s.
    3) Well it all depends on what you mean by renegotiation.
    4) Yes ASAP
    5) No – Instead, abolish ALL Quangos – They have no place in a democracy. All levels of government must be democratically accountable.
    6) Wasn’t aware the Lords has been reformed, but it has been messed up.
    I’d like to see 300 Lords. 75% elected (225) 25% (75) appointed on basis of a specific expertise. The Lords to be a working/revising/debating chamber.
    7) Not achievable unless the whip system is abolished and the Speaker does his/her job without fear or favour with the sole intent of upholding and strengthening parliamentary democracy. If that means censuring PM or Leader of opposition for advance leaking of statements which should go to HOuse first – so be it.
    8) Put more issues that concern the electorate to referendum (Secure computerised voting in booths- eliminating counting costs) and then act upon the people’s wishes.

  50. Vanessa
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Your list includes “Complete the reforms of the Lords”. Do you really think it is a good idea to have an Upper House which is exactly the same as the Lower House? It will have exactly the same party whips and corrupt, dishonest members. Surely one House like this is enough? We need more hereditry peers with a sense of public duty, not more people wanting to make their £million on the backs of us taxpayers. The Lords was set up as the checks and balances of idiotic laws made in the commons, to have an exact replica of that House in the Lords will do no good at all.

    Reply: No, I do not want a replica of the Commons. I will try to fit in a blog on options later.

  51. uanime5
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Regarding point 2 it has one main advantage but a very serious disadvantage.

    Advantages:
    1) No need for MSPs or AMs as their function can be replaced with MPs working on devolved business. This will reduce bureaucracy and save money.

    Disadvantages:
    1) English MPs can live in London throughout the year but MPs for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will need to travel to London overnight for union business and return to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland for the devolved business. For example if Monday and Tuesday are for devolved business, while Wednesday to Friday is for union business; then a Scottish MP will work in Scotland on Monday and Tuesday, have to travel to London on Tuesday night, work in London Wednesday to Friday, then have to travel back to Scotland in time for the devolved business on Monday.

    This is highly likely to be unpopular with non-English MPs as they will have to travel considerably more frequently than their English counterparts. Worse if the Scottish, Welsh, and Irish MPs respond by refusing to attend union business then the union will be instantly shattered as MPs will only attend their own Parliaments.

    Alternate weeks for devolved and union business would be fairer as it wouldn’t involve mid-week travelling.

    I noticed you mentioned reforming the Lords and strengthening the Commons. Will this involve changing the electoral system for the Commons to be more proportionate and introducing an electoral system for the Lords?
    Reply: You are describing the travel patterns of existing Westminster MPs – my proposal is no different, but it changes the days of travel.

    • Mark Polden
      Posted January 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      In this day and age it is simply unnecessary for anyone to travel, just put up a huge video screen in all the parliaments and video-conference

  52. Electro-Kevin
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    “3. Renegotiate our relationship with the EU, and put the result to a vote of the UK people to answer the question if they wish to stay in the EU on the revised terms.”

    This suggestion seems to prove my point (made months ago) that the people had no alternative but to vote for pro EU MPs. Often there was nothing else on offer from the major parties.

    We were innocent all along.

  53. BigJohn
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    > 6. Complete the reform of the Lords

    This must go, it’s madness (Bishops !!!, Paddy (Ashdown-ed) !!!).

    It needs to be replace by a jury of tax payers.

    Prehaps pick a number (1000+) of tax payers at random, to vote on each law.

    Exclude anybody with a direct interest in the vote result.

    Each voter has access to all the information for why this law is required and the costs or savings to the tax payer etc.

    Randomly pick an MP that voted for, and another that voted against, to act like barristers answering any questions.

    The whole thing can be done on the internet (Each voter is sent a unique login code).

    This can be run from a server rack in the basement of the lords, the rest could be turned into a museum.

    Each voter can see any questions and answers, and their could be a moderator (Judge) that makes sure only trueful information is posted for the voters to make a decision.

    It must be better than the current system.

  54. Stephen O
    Posted January 27, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    8. The fourth estate – the news media.

    The need is not just for more democracy, but better informed democracy. Reform of the BBC and its interpretation of what impartiality means, should be on the agenda as well as developing a means of flagging cases where the news media have issued inaccurate or misleading stories. A greater responsibility to carry out investigative journalism and get expert input, rather than write opinion pieces based on hand outs from PR teams.

    Who knows, get it right and public spending excesses might become mainstream topics before they reach disasterous levels or at least the case for more cuts would get a decent airing.

    On 6 (House of Lords reform0, I hope you will also consider how more talent can be brought into the business of managing UK PLC.

  • 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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