Gordon Brown on the case for English votes for English issues in 1980

Gordon Brown has changed his mind on English votes.

In the  1980 book ‘The Politics of Nationalism and Devolution’,  (which he co authored with H Drucker)Gordon Brown accepted that on one of his two possible models for  future  devolution (and the one he favoured for Labour) Scottish MPs would be prevented from voting on English or Welsh domestic matters as the quid pro quo for devolution to Scotland of  tax-raising powers.

These are the words from page 127 on the future:

“Some form of taxation power could be devolved if the price were paid. It is scandalous for the British Treasury to deny that it is capable of devolving any powers to levy tax when so many other countries do it. Most of all, a revised Scotland Act could embody some form of the ‘in-and-out’ principle. Under such a principle the remaining Scottish MPs at Westminster would not be allowed to take part in the proceedings of the House when it was debating England or Welsh domestic matters. The ‘in-and-out’ principle ought to be attractive to Conservatives since it would ensure them a semi-permanent majority on most social issues at Westminster – no small prize. Labour remains formally committed to devolution and may be expected to consider a plan along these lines in the future.”

So now we know that he and his co author once saw as a possible solution to the problem of devolution in Scotland offering some fiscal devolution. The authors  saw the justice of England’s case, and saw no impediments to devolving  tax raising powers to Scotland as long as there were also English votes for English issues

In my participation in debate  with him on Tuesday   I challenged his statement that Conservatives  had not alerted the people of Scotland to the English votes issue before the referendum, and so raising it now was unreasonable. I pointed out that I deliberately  raised it in Prime Minister’s Questions shortly before the Scottish vote, which got a lot of media pick up at the time. I also reminded him that English votes for English issues has been Conservative party policy since the 2001 Manifesto. We have given 15 years warning of the need to do this!

It is fascinating to discover he too had been thinking about the merits of this case in the context of fiscal devolution when he was a Politics lecturer at the Glasgow College of Technology.





  1. Lifelogic
    October 16, 2014

    Indeed but it is raw power that interests Labour not fairness or justice for England or anyone else. Keep up the good work on this issue JR but where are the leadership? It is essential Cameron fights this strongly and to the bitter end. Meanwhile how are they going to stop Miliband from taking a very comfortable majority in seven months time. What are they going to do after they lose the second by-election shortly to UKIP? UKIP are not the stop Labour choice in many constituencies.

    After Cameron’s vague hint on IHT what is Osborne’s the promise this time?

    Also now that Owen Patterson has called for the scrapping of the bonkers/mad & absurd Climate Change Act where does the Tory leadership now stand on the green energy religion. It is UKIP policies that will win the day. Lower energy prices, lower taxes, selective immigration and less EU and government in general. More steel jobs to go it seems too I see.

    And what a load of BBC nonsense fuss over the need to subsidise employers who employ people who have learning and other health difficulties. Newsnight was totally pathetic last night as is so common. Is it run by the Labour Party press office? Of course some people cannot justify the minimum wage and produce a real return to employers. Employers are not a charity for therapy for the disabled. That is up to charities and the government to provide when they can afford it.

  2. JoeSoap
    October 16, 2014

    This man is in a class of his own. He really isn’t worth the effort of portraying fact or intellectual argument against him. I think ignoring the obfuscation, inconsistencies and worse is probably the right course. A shame that your leader and the other two didn’t think that also.

  3. Richard1
    October 16, 2014

    It is a disgrace that Gordon Brown, who did so much damage to the UK and our economic prospects during his time as Chancellor and PM, should now be campaigning to deny the large majority of UK citizens who live in England the same devolution as he has pushed for in Scotland. This issue – and the reminder to people that the disastrous Gordon Brown was and is a Labour politician – should be helpful for the Conservatives at the next election. There needs to be a parliamentary vote so Labour MPs are obliged to vote against justice for England, if they really are against it, and then explain themselves to their constituents.

    1. A different Simon
      October 16, 2014

      Richard1 ,

      If we had of had a Conservative Govt under Cameron or heavens forbid Clark or Heseltine the UK would have abandoned the Pound for the Euro by now .

      Brown and Balls are less Europhile than Cameron .

      The parliamentary Labour party and the Conservative both have lame duck leaders .

      Surely it must have occurred to people in both parties to come to an agreement with the other that both will hold leadership elections before the G.E. ?

      Reply Not so. Mr Cameron was always strongly against us joining the Euro. I won that battle in the Conservative party in the last century.

      1. Lifelogic
        October 17, 2014

        Well perhaps but he was, I think, fully in favour of the absurd ERM structure and the climate change act and 299+ tax increases and ratting on IHT and the treaty (that is it seems is magically no longer a treaty). Did he vote for John Major rather than JR, just before he buried the Tories for 3+ terms (so far)? I assume he did.

        Still perhaps he will come to reason in time for May 7th 2015? Only a 7% change of a full Tory majority it seems. That might be by one including many Ken Clark types.

    2. Denis Cooper
      October 16, 2014

      But the Tories are also campaigning to deny the large majority of UK citizens who live in England the same devolution as Brown pushed for in Scotland.

      As somebody else commenting here has said more than once, those who insist on a true English Parliament are only asking for the same as the Scots, no more and no less; but the Tories are refusing to even consider directly asking the English whether that is what they want, they will go no further than mooting that there should be a notional English Parliament within the UK Parliament, in reality an English Grand Committee of the UK House of Commons mislabelled as an English Parliament; an English Parliament which only existed on paper, and which even then would be vulnerable to future abolition through the same mechanism that created it, merely a change to the internal Standing Orders of the UK House of Commons without any reference back to the English people.

    3. fedupsouthener
      October 17, 2014

      Too true.

    4. REPay
      October 17, 2014

      The silence which Gordon Brown kept after trashing public finances did him credit, marred only by his self-serving book that few read. His nakedly tribal stance and the vehemence of his arguments on English votes for English laws will remind many why he should return to silence.

  4. Richard1
    October 16, 2014

    Off topic but I think we should recognize and praise Owen Patterson’s courage in taking on the Green Blob and attempting to start a rational debate on the issue of (currently non existent) global warming and the catastrophic green policies which have been adopted to combat it. The Green Blob will attempt to smear Patterson (there was a flavor of this on the BBC a moment ago) and avoid the actual argument. Another good issue for the Conservatives at the election if Mr Cameron can be persuaded again to question green crap.

    1. oldtimer
      October 16, 2014

      The full text of his speech is available at the Spectator Coffee House blogs site. His case is solid and well argued. His proposal to suspend, and later repeal, the Climate Change Act is sound. But we know that Davey will not exercise the powers available to him, as Secretary of State, to suspend the Act nor, on past evidence, would Cameron allow him to do so. Nevertheless his proposals should form the basis for Conservative party policy unless it wishes, once again, to be outflanked by UKIP which well understands the absurdity of current UK energy policy.

    2. Bob
      October 16, 2014

      Is “Green Blob” a reference to the Tory logo?

    3. Martin
      October 16, 2014

      So will Mr Patterson practice what he preaches and suggest a site in his constituency for an old fashioned no fancy stuff dirty coal fired power station?

      1. fedupsouthener
        October 17, 2014

        What we need is more smaller nuclear facilities much like in France, our own gas because it does not destroy large areas of the countryside for no real reduction in CO2 and cleaner coal power stations. If we let our power stations run down much more there will not be enough base load to keep the lights on. Wind does not do the job. Ask the real experts who have no axe to grind.

    4. Lifelogic
      October 17, 2014

      Indeed about time.

      I note Ed Davey has a first in the dreaded Oxford PPE, and is thus totally unsuitable for any responsible job in government. Find some decent engineers and physicists please.

  5. alan jutson
    October 16, 2014

    Like many MP’s Gordon Brown uses selected fact, fiction and out of context quotes to suit their arguments at the time.

    A minor worrying factor was that he was given nearly three times as long as anyone else by the Speaker to produce such an argument.

    The first Party to include English only votes for an English Parliament within their manifesto, will I believe gain an advantage at the next election.

    So the main issues next year will be:
    The economy and deficit, immigration, an EU referendum , an English Parliament, further revision of Benefits, lower tax rates, and of course the NHS. in no particular order.

    The problem with all of the above is that MP’s, the media, and the public, all seem to have short memories.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      October 16, 2014

      Alan–There is no hurry for an English Parliament because there is every reason first to try the easy-to-implement EVEL and see how that goes. On any basis EVEL, though admittedly not perfect (nothing is), would go a long long way. The problem with an English Parliament would come if (and I hope not) Scotland does become independent: the resultant UK would be a laughing stock. A telling advantage of EVEL is that if for whatever reason, and contrary to my hope and expectation, it were decided that an English Parliament had become Way To Go it would be a sequential thing and less of a big deal. In other words EVEL is the exact opposite of any kind of once and for all time decision.

      1. DaveM
        October 16, 2014

        Leslie, agree with the theory of your argument, but I maintain that in order for this to be accepted there is a requirement for an English First Minister as a new appointment, and for the Sec of State for Local Govt to be renamed the English Secretary, with Welsh LG matters to be fully devolved to the Welsh Assembly.

        Most people won’t look at the ins-and-outs and will be satisfied with some form of equality, but symbolism goes a long way.

        And I, for the record, would favour a totally new English Parliament in a completely federal UK outside the EU. As you said, EVEL is a step in the right direction.

      2. Denis Cooper
        October 16, 2014

        Even if it remained in place EVEL would not prevent the MPs elected in England themselves voting to break up England into EU regions, or into EU “regions and cities” (the other way round from Hague), if that seemed the best way to sneak around popular opposition.

        We know that because MPs elected in England have done it in the past, and they didn’t even need MPs elected outside England to help push it through the Commons.

        One often overlooked item in that famous “Vow” jointly given to voters in Scotland by Cameron, Clegg and Miliband was:

        “The Scottish Parliament is permanent”

        and however that may be guaranteed in UK law the entrenchment of an elected national assembly speaking for Scotland, coupled with the strength of national feeling among the Scots who elected it, would be a formidable obstacle for anyone minded to break up Scotland in the future.

        Instead the English are being told that they can make do with a so-called Parliament for England which would be better described as “notional” rather than “national”, whose voice for England and the English would be drowned out, and which could be swept aside by a single vote to change the Commons Standing Orders back to how they are now.

      3. James Matthews
        October 16, 2014

        “The resultant UK would become a laughing stock.” I have no idea why that should be. I don’t recall anyone laughing at the break up of Czechoslovakia. Even if true it doesn’t in the least matter and it is certainly not a reason for denying the English proper electoral equality within the UK. The Scots of course are already laughing at us (watch the SNP representatives suppressing giggles when interviewed on TV – they can’t believe how much they have got away with).

    2. DaveM
      October 16, 2014

      As usual I agree with your concise summary (paragraphs 3 & 4). And this is so blindingly obvious that even the MPs in Westminster must be able to see it.

      I’ve said similar on this blog enough times that JR must be getting bored with the broken record. However, until DC (or anyone else for that matter) breaks silence, the electorate will continue to be disillusioned with the political class, and unfortunately this means they’ll either vote habitually for the status quo or won’t vote at all, which means the disillusionment will continue and fringe parties will continue to rise.

      But I repeat your comments – as soon as a party produces a well-publicised and clear manifesto which sweeps up the points in your 4th paragraph, they’ll have a massive head start.

      And finally – have people actually forgotten how bad Brown was when he had ministerial appointments? He was a nightmare, and the reason we’re in such trouble now.

  6. Andyvan
    October 16, 2014

    Why should anyone care what a totally failed and discredited ex prime minister thinks or says? The man is loathed both in Scotland and England and has been an entirely negative force in Britain. The fact that he still appears to have such influence on the Scottish debate is incredible especially as he is normally far too busy earning massive fees abroad to bother with his job as an MP. Is Westminster so bereft of talent and ideas that we have to rely on possibly the worst Labour leader in history (against stiff competition from Milliband and others)?

  7. Ian wragg
    October 16, 2014

    Who is really interested in what the disgraceful G Brown thinks. He was a disaster as chancellor and even worse as PM. All he is bothered about is preserving the Liblabcon but that is rapidly evaporating.
    I see Owen Patterson is talking sense. Pity he didn’t whilst in government.

    1. matthu
      October 16, 2014

      Paterson was challenged on exactly that issue i.e. why he had failed to raise these important issues about the Climate Act while he was in government. A pity therefore that the BBC sought to truncate his reply so abruptly.

    2. Man of Kent
      October 16, 2014

      Owen Patterson talked considerable sense while in government ;that’s why he had to go.

      A clear win for the Green Blob and Ed Davey.

      1. fedupsouthener
        October 17, 2014

        He simply was too good at his job and other ministers should have supported him. More need to speak out about the folly of our energy policy. Well done John for doing just this. Keep up the good work.

    3. Leslie Singleton
      October 16, 2014

      Ian–I suspect he did and that’s why Cameron, who likes non sense, shot him

  8. Old Albion
    October 16, 2014

    So. Gordon Brown the Scottish politician who once run England (badly) is at best disingenous about England’s position in the (dis)UK…….who’d a thought it?

  9. Bill
    October 16, 2014

    Very interesting!

    I hope your quotation of Gordon Brown’s earlier thinking is widely circulated. However, I note that the management of information on the media is carried out cunningly. For example, yesterday we learnt of a clip that had been surreptitiously recorded at a meeting at the Conservative Party Conference which was held back till it could be released to maximum political effect. Ed Milliband asked a question at PMQs on disability, the Prime Minister answered effectively by reference to his own disabled son, the topic was however aired on World At One and then re-cycled by ITN in the evening. There must have been collusion between the Labour Party and World At One since there would not have been time to assemble the interviewees otherwise. I was surprised that ITN followed the BBC line and note that when the video clip of David Cameron responding to Ed Milliband at PMQs, the sentence about having to look after his own disabled son was cut out of Cameron’s reply – thus reducing its effectiveness.

    There are clearly editorial decisions being made in back rooms. This is why I prefer Radio Five Live since one does have chunks of unedited material being broadcast.

    Gordon Brown’s current contributions are difficult to interpret but, since he was reported as thinking of standing for the Scottish Parliament, it would be make sense to understand that he is positioning himself to undermine the SNP and install himself as First Minister.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      October 16, 2014

      There must have been collusion between Labour and the BBC. Immediately after the end of PMQs, just after 12:30, Nick Robinson on the Daily Politics had chapter and verse including the recorded extracts of Lord Freud. Andrew Neil said that he (Nick Robinson) “was across this story before PMQs.”

      1. Bill
        October 16, 2014

        And to think that Robinson was once either in or supportive of the Conservative Party! The BBC must serve food in its canteen that rots the brain.

        1. fedupsouthener
          October 17, 2014

          Agree. Any sensible person doesn’t believe half the BBC says any more. They cannot be trusted to report the truth.

    2. oldtimer
      October 16, 2014

      It is par for the course on both issues, namely the BBC`s collusion with Labour and editing remarks for the impression they want to convey and Brown changing his tune. Even many years ago (the 1970s) the media training advice was only do live interviews for the BBC. It you are recorded, they will edit and so distort what you say.

    3. bluedog
      October 16, 2014

      ‘… he is positioning himself to undermine the SNP and install himself as First Minister.’

      A very astute and almost certainly entirely accurate observation about Gordon Brown.

      Setting aside Gordon Brown’s many failings, he does seem to be a sincere Unionist. Whether that would still be the case once he was installed as First Minister at Holyrood remains to be seen.

      1. Bill
        October 16, 2014

        Yup. The Labour Party is not concerned about the substantive issues. They want to create the impression that the Conservatives don’t care about people with disabilities. Presumably they will work through each special interest group one at a time trying to target them, and then all this stuff will be repeated during the debates that precede the election.

        I anticipate these tactics to be deployed many times over the coming months as we lead up to the election. Alastair Campbell’s method of attempting to control the news cycle was to use ‘instant rebuttal’ on stories he wanted to block which is why, I guess, Freud was asked to make an instant apology even though, in context, he did not mean what he was said to have meant.

  10. agricola
    October 16, 2014

    Possibly in 1980 Gordon Brown did not have the responsibility of government and the future of socialism, allowing him to think more equably and logically. Maybe in those days he had a freer floating mind.

    Now having been at the head of government and of socialism in the UK he realises that in the present climate it has no future in the mind set of the English. Never noticeably having had much love of the English he is not disposed to any sense of fairness on the question of English votes on English business. He sees socialism confined to Scotland and the Welsh valleys because he knows that it has no great resonance at present in England.

    The idea among the English electorate has a growing momentum, so either the Conservatives fight for it tooth and nail or it is left to UKIP whose hand will be further strengthened in the socialist north. They can add it to their display cabinet of exit from political EU, immigration, and making the connection with the electorate that the Lib/Dem, Lab, Con consortium at Westminster have failed to do in the past four and a half years.

  11. acorn
    October 16, 2014

    JR, you wrote a book in 1980, suggesting reforms to state owned industries. You changed your mind five years later, when you and John Moore, were privatising anything that moved, you didn’t mention that in that book if I remember correctly?

    Reply What I did in government was in line with what I said and did in opposition. Mr Brown is now saying exactly the opposite, without acknowledging that he has changed his mind.

    1. zorro
      October 16, 2014

      Reply to reply – Far be it from me to support Gordon ‘I saved the world’ Brown but…… He wasn’t an MP when he wrote that in 1980, and neither were you an MP at that time, so it is difficult to pin the consistency argument on him whilst ignoring your own arguments at the time and how they differed in government. Brown was often consistently wrong in opposition and in power but he kept the UK out of the Euro because he wouldn’t have been able to cope with the lack of control.


      Reply My arguments did not differ

      1. zorro
        October 17, 2014

        ‘Public Enterprise in Crisis: Future of the Nationalized Industries’ (1980)…


        Reply Which recommended privatisation, asset sales and introduction of private capital which we went on to do.

  12. Matt
    October 16, 2014

    Hi John,

    I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this issue, which I had largely neglected up to now. In my view you’ve got it bang on and we should all be most grateful for your efforts.

    One technical question about EVEL:
    Does English Votes for English Laws, also means English Executives for English Ministries?
    If party A has the majority of MPs in England, and party B has the majority of MPs in the UK; but the leader of party A was elected to a Scottish constituency, does it all still work?
    Would party A be expected to choose a minister for England from their English MPs? Would the position of the Scottish leader of party A be untenable?

    Reply Clearly any Minister in an English department has to have the support of a majority of English MPs.

  13. Bert Young
    October 16, 2014

    One should not be surprised by the turncoat statements of Gordon Brown ; he is now striving for a fresh identification and possible leadership of the Labour Party and will do whatever he thinks is necessary to grab the headlines . He , having tasted what it is like to be sidelined and disregarded , seized upon the Scottish moment to re-emerge as the only sensible and trustworthy politician . In the Blair/Brown days of Westminster , his ego was dented and blurred so much so he felt it necessary to go public on his discontent ; his behaviour today is the same . He could not win then and he will not win now ; he is a doomed figure of the past .

  14. majorfrustration
    October 16, 2014

    Glasgow Tech eh- as high as that!

  15. James Matthews
    October 16, 2014

    I doubt that many people have a lower opinion of Brown than I do, but when he demanded that the Government jump to confer more powers on Holyrood, the coalition response was, effectively, “how high”, even though extra powers were not mandated by the referendum and many no voters quite emphatically do not want them. What does that say about the Conservative leadership?

  16. Iain Moore
    October 16, 2014

    Labour for all their claimed principles, will with bare faced cheek attempt to argue black is white one moment, and reverse their position the next . It all depends on their political prejudice, and political self interest.

    This we have seen very clearly with devolution, where their rank duplicity has been beyond belief, all their claims of human rights, equality, identity , etc has where England is concerned a highly selective set of rights which are only applied according to their whim, and where English people are concerned, never.

    As such it should come as no surprise to find Gordon Brown arguing one position one moment when seeking to get devolution and the price of that devolution , equality for others, could be pushed into the distant future, and arguing the opposite now when the constitutional reckoning became due.

    Labour have been able to cloak themselves in this righteous equality rubbish because of the failure of the political party opposite them to make them pay for their duplicity. Even now when EVEL has after 16 years ( the length of time an indicator of the Conservative party’s failure in its own right) has been put back into political mainstream, the Conservatives still don’t go for Labour’s jugular , and paint Labour as an anti English party, even when the Conservatives had the experience of being made beyond the pale in Scotland by Labour. Labour supporters should be made embarrassed to admit voting Labour in England , just as Scottish Tories have go in disguise in Scotland. But of course Labour don’t have to worry about that in England because Cameron has de-fanged the Conservatives with his modernisation , which is code loving everything Labour do.

  17. APL
    October 16, 2014

    JR: “I pointed out that I deliberately raised it in Prime Minister’s Questions shortly before the Scottish vote, which got a lot of media pick up at the time.”

    You can’t expect Brown to know what has been going on in Parliament, he only bothers to turn up once or twice a year.

    1. fedupsouthener
      October 17, 2014

      I can’t see Gordon Brown turning anything around in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon will win hands down unfortunately for us living here. There is nobody in Labour strong enough and they still hate the Conservatives. Don’t believe UKIP will do well here either.

  18. Richard
    October 16, 2014

    Off topic :

    According to this report :


    “BRUSSELS – France wants €10 billion a year from the EU’s “New Deal” fund, amid warnings that its budget profligacy could harm the “credibility” of EU financial rules.”

    Is the UK, or will the UK be contributing to this fund ?

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 16, 2014

      Juncker had wanted to use the funding capacity of the ESM to enable increased lending by the EIB, but the Germans objected on the good grounds that the ESM was set up for eurozone financial bailouts and not for infrastructure investment in the Eurozone; so now there is an alternative idea that the capital base of the EIB should simply be increased; and, yes, we would contribute to that increase in the EIB capital base, although only a fraction of the increased capital subscription would actually have to be paid in initially. You can find the details by searching for “PROTOCOL (No 5)” here:


  19. Kenneth
    October 16, 2014


    The selective memory of those on the left is contagious.

    Guido pointed out yesterday that the Labour government in 2003 produced a paper supporting the idea of paying mentally ill people less than the minimum wage.

    I don’t remember the BBC running this as a top news story at the time with calls for Patricia Hewitt, the responsible minister at the time, to be sacked.

  20. Robert Taggart
    October 16, 2014

    Good work Johnny – you are obviously well read – please keep on reading if only to save us the trouble !
    What Broon said / wrote back then – was done without expectation of real power – on his part. Alas, since then – unfortunately for all of us Brits – he has tasted power and wasted power. His diatribe the other day be nothing more than ‘the Broon stuff’ !

  21. A different Simon
    October 16, 2014

    Gordon Brown is intellectually in a different and much higher league from Cameron and Clegg .

    The trouble is that like most politicians and civil servants , he is totally cossetted by terms and conditions which mean he never has to risk his own money .

    Announcing his intention to sell the gold showed how naive he was and that he had never risked his own money .

    The only way regulators will ever properly regulate products is if they are forced to use the products they regulate themselves .

    All remaining public sector defined benefits pension schemes should be closed down immediately and their members should be auto-enrolled in NEST .

    If that happened pretty soon NEST would be transformed from the pension of last resort to the pension of choice with low charges and fantastic performance .

    1. ChrisS
      October 17, 2014

      “Gordon Brown is intellectually in a different and much higher league from Cameron and Clegg” .

      Oh, Please. We are talking about the man who sold our gold at a huge loss, ruined the econony of the country over 13 years and after a coronation, became the worst Prime Minister in living memory.

      Your statement has to be so far away from the truth it’s laughable.

  22. Atlas
    October 16, 2014

    … hmm, all in all a bit of an ‘inconvenient truth’ for GB eh. That’s never stopped him…

  23. Peter
    October 16, 2014

    No surprise from Gordon Brown. Lib Dems are democratic and refused constituency reform Labour are party of working class and have replaced aspiration with dependency.

    In an interesting aside I had an interesting conversation with a very bright Romanian barista on the tube yesterday. He spent some time telling me how grateful he was for the opportunity to work here, how he enjoys paying taxes as a sign of his rising prosperity and how he couldn’t believe there were so many low skilled jobs available in London considering that there are so many British people on benefits.

    He also, worryingly, pointed out that on many Romanian job sites there is obvious and detailed information about how to apply and receive English benefits. Something must be done about this two fold problem.

  24. Terry
    October 16, 2014

    What has Gordon Brown go to do with English democratic equity?

    He belongs to that second class of MPs (created by his Govt in 1998) that do not represent anyone on many matters put before them (Health, Education, Policing, Social Policy etc etc) and very definitely don’t represent the English on the English Question.

  25. Peter Stroud
    October 16, 2014

    Brown’s contradictory view in his 1980 book should be given a great deal of publicity. He must not get away with turning up in the Commons, a very rare event, and expressing a view, that is clearly at odds with his ideas before he entered politics. There really cannot be any reason, in a democracy, why the Scots MPs should vote on purely English, Welsh or N Irish matters.

  26. Sam
    October 16, 2014

    And here I was naively believing that Mr Brown had been firmly booted out of affairs of state in 2010.

  27. Peter Davies
    October 16, 2014

    Am I being a cynical or is it Brown’s and the labour party’s position that they know they are far less likely to get majority votes through the HOC if a large chunk of their MPs are excluded from voting?

    I haven’t done any counts, but knocking off 40-50 Lab/Lib MPs off a whipped vote surely would have an effect on devolved domestic HOC voting.

    If as you say this is something which can be solved by a simple procedural HOC change with no law change, I really cant see what the fuss is about. The govt need to put this in place and any MPs who vote against it can explain why to their own constituents.

  28. Denis Cooper
    October 16, 2014

    Not to defend Brown, but 1980 is a long time ago now and his view then may have been somewhat conditioned by the fact that in the preceding years the Tories had still been strong in Scotland, at least compared to their present poor performances.

    They were well down from their peak in 1955, when they and their Unionist allies had won 50.1% of the votes and 36 out of the 71 seats, but in 1979 they still got 31.4% of the votes and 22 seats against Labour’s 44, an advantage of 22 to Labour when trying to assemble a Commons majority.

    In more recent general elections that Labour advantage over the Tories in seats won in Scotland has been running at roughly double that or more – going back from the 2010 election, Labour surpluses of 40, 40, 54, 56, 38, 40, but just 20 in 1983.


    Obviously the greater the Labour advantage over the Tories in Scotland the stronger the incentive to insist that the MPs elected there must have full voting rights, including over matters which have since been devolved to the Scottish Parliament but have not yet been devolved to an English Parliament as they should be.

    It’s possible that Labour’s attitude may change if they get hammered by the SNP next year; at the extreme they could end up with no advantage over the Tories through MPs elected in Scotland, but would want the voting rights of the SNP MPs to be formally curtailed through the Standing Orders if the latter abandoned their present policy of abstaining on laws which would not apply to Scotland.

  29. Lindsay McDougall
    October 16, 2014

    Please post your blog to Gordon Brown. No need for a covering letter.

  30. Denis Cooper
    October 16, 2014

    I won’t be surprised if this comment remains unpublished, like quite a few of my other recent comments on this topic, but this analysis rather undermines the idea that EVEL would solve a serious and frequent problem of MPs elected in Scotland wrongly swinging the Commons votes on matters which do not concern Scotland:


    “Parliament without Scottish MPs: how would it have looked different since 1997?”

    There is a list of just 21 votes which would have gone the other way if all the MPs elected in Scotland had been invited into a room and locked up to prevent them voting, and that is out of nearly 5000 votes since 1997.

    But of those 21 votes listed I find only about half a dozen where it would obviously have been right to exclude the MPs elected in Scotland, and indeed they would have been barred from voting under the EVEL proposals; in all the other cases the vote was on a UK-wide matter and the MPs elected in Scotland had a legitimate interest.

    Half a dozen occasions out 5000, just over 0.1% of all the votes over 17 years, does not square with the widespread notion that MPs elected in Scotland are frequently imposing their will on the English about matters which do not affect Scotland.

    It happens that some of those few cases were important and have become notorious, and I certainly agree that as a matter of principle it should never happen, but it has not been such a frequent problem as many people may suppose.

    I will add that this is only about MPs elected in Scotland voting on an issue when they have no legitimate interest in the outcome because as far as Scotland is concerned that matter has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament; it is not about the number of MPs elected in Scotland – which would now be about right if the Boundary Commission for Scotland had been allowed to revise the number of seats in line with up to date data on the total number of UK parliamentary electors – or about their political complexion, and nor is it about the continuing over-representation of UK citizens resident in Wales and Northern Ireland or the partial devolution of powers to those other two parts of the UK, the second part of which would also be covered by EVEL.

    Reply You miss the main point – we are now talking about Income Tax as a devolved matter!

  31. margaret brandreth-j
    October 16, 2014

    I suppose it is an argument about the transparency of ‘U ‘ turns , the Opacity of ‘U’ turns and downright denial.’ or then again not having heard the statement from GB; a press error !

    October 16, 2014

    I did not know Gordon Brown used to be a lecturer at Glasgow College of Technology! I had it he was a former PR Head at Glasgow Council. Now I see it was his brother Andrew, now working for the Erradiator of Fish EDF

  33. a-tracy
    October 16, 2014

    There’s part of me that thinks let Labour keep objecting, and stalling EVEL, give the Scots what was promised by Cameron, just for goodness sakes get this message of anti-English domestic votes out everytime Conservatives get the chance on the news programs, any discussions on the new improved Scottish devolution (“of course the Labour and Lib Dems won’t give English the same domestic rights still wanting a say in our affairs whilst stopping English MPs having a say in theirs”) then every time a Conservative motion or taxation close call that goes against England goes ahead you can permanently damage the anti-English Labour party over and over again until it sinks in, you know one thing us English can’t stand is a lack of fair play and just get this message out.

  34. Pete
    October 16, 2014

    Root cause is Scotland is ‘smaller’ and ‘weaker’ than England, Gordon is unhealthily obsessed with England, he has a historical chip on his shoulder and an inferiority complex towards England, and (with the EU subservient Labour Party) merely wants to have England carved up into (EU) “Regions”, each with it’s own “Regional Assembly” all with less power than the Scottish “Parliament”, which would then be able to dominate Britain – or so he thinks, your not on Gordon, English Parliament and English Government NOW!, all Politicians elected in Scotland must be banned from ever having any say over England ever again – starting with Gordon ‘No Mandate in England’ Brown!.

  35. Pete
    October 16, 2014

    Gordon Browns “own” Country Scotland has it’s “own” separate Parliament and it’s “own” separate Government. Has yours?….

  36. Pete
    October 16, 2014

    “Out of the chaos of post-Roman Dark Age Britain, the English had created the world’s first nation-state: One king, one country, one church, one currency, one language and a single unified representative national administration”. – Professor David Starkey.

    “We are entering an era in which national government, instead of directing, enables powerful regional and local initiatives to work, where Britain becomes as it should be – a Britain of nations and regions” – Gordon Brown. Jan 2000. *** Brown meant the ‘Nations’ being Scotland and Wales but England (the oldest Nation State in Europe) as no more than a collection of broken up EU “Regions of Britain”.

    “We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount. Gordon Brown, The Scottish Claim of Right 1989”.

  37. Pete
    October 16, 2014

    Virtually everything is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, Gordon Brown and Gordon and the rest of Labours Scottish Raj have virtually no say in Scotland even in their own constituencies where they are elected!, but are absolutely desperate to keep having a say over England, better for their bank balances and it’s obviously better for their careers interfering at the top table of World Power rather than merely having a say over matters in little Scotland.

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 18, 2014

      If virtually everything was devolved to the Scottish Parliament, then when we checked here:


      we would find that virtually none of the recent Acts of the UK Parliament applied to Scotland in any way at all.

      In fact about four fifths of the Acts passed by the UK Parliament during 2013 and 2014 did apply to Scotland, wholly or in part.

  38. Martin
    October 16, 2014

    In your new scheme would then England and Wales MPs vote on the Great Western Rail Franchise and England and Scotland MPs on the East Coast Rail franchise?

    Which constituencies would the new Minister of Transport need majority support from?

    Would Northern Ireland MPs be stopped from voting on Network Rail?

    Reply MPs vote on any matter that it is not devolved to a Parliament or Assembly in their area. The issues are defined by the issues the Scottish Parliament etc settle.

  39. john robertson
    October 16, 2014

    Gordon Brown is copying Alex Salmond, not new IS pursue the same political con. Create an enemy that is out to attack you and you will recruit followers especially if you goad them enough to attack you.

    He had already decided to establish the petition before the fact, he wanted to create an enemy so the Scots could rally behind a ‘saviour’. Alex Salmond plays the same card etc ed. Gordon Brown is in Westminster to goad so he can be the saviour to the Scots and have his moment. He says to the Scots the Conservatives don’t give enough, he says in Westminster the Conservatives give too much. Give what ever they want and place it on Brown. I don’t think Labour can stop English devolution. Give them what they supposedly want, don’t engage in the goading. Our justice will follow.

    Devolution is a product of how Labour set it up, there is a public lobby in Wales to restrict it. Devolved parliaments want extra power by nature they don’t reflect public opinion unless they play the politics above. Lets not give Brown the fuel he wants but give what he wants. English devolution will happen regardless.

    1. Denis Cooper
      October 18, 2014

      But irrespective of that “public lobby” in Wales in 2011 the public in Wales voted in a referendum and said the Welsh Assembly should exercise more powers.

  40. Bryan
    October 17, 2014

    I hear that Mr Brown is a delightful man in private.

    However in public it is better for us all if he is neither seen nor heard!

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