Appeasement rarely works. Too much devolution undermines the UK.

In the late 1990s when Labour decided to offer considerable devolution to Scotland and a little devolution to Wales I wrote a book warning that such changes would fuel Scottish nationalism, not undermine it. “The death of Britain?” set out how Labour’s constitutional revolution would damage our democracy. I wrote it as a Unionist, wanting to keep our country together.

During the bruising referendum on Scottish independence last year I explained that my view now is I only support a Union of the willing. I wanted Scotland to have a good debate and make up their mind. Instead they had a huge debate, but have not really made up their mind. I fear the offer of more devolution powers has unsettled the Union further.

Labour and some others belong to the appeasement school. They believe that if they keep on offering new and greater powers to Scotland for more self government, they will keep the union together. I wanted the parties of the Union last year to say to Scotland ” We would like you to stay. You are most welcome as part of our joint country. We only want volunteers in our union, so of course you are free to leave on fair terms if that is your wish. You know what the union is like. We wish to keep it broadly the same”.

That would have prevented what happened – the outbreak of a bidding war to see who could offer more powers to Scotland. It would have told moderate SNP voters and politicians that they could not endlessly play the game of demanding independence, asking for a back up position of more home rule, and getting more powers from such a tactic. Offering more powers has reaffirmed that the Union is very fluid, that the parties of the Union lack confidence in it, and has given every reason to people in Scotland to keep seeing how far they can push it without leaving.

Appeasement has not worked as a political strategy. Far from making Labour the regular choice in Scotland, Labour’s devolution settlement created a platform for the SNP, who seized it and became the majority government in Edinburgh. Now Labour’s appeasement policy in the referendum campaign – led by Gordon Brown – has undermined support for Labour in Scotland even more. Instead of gratitude for Gordon’s Home Rule cocktail, there is a spirit abroad that too little too late was offered and there is more to be had by voting SNP.

When it comes to considering English votes for English issues, some think we should go for a watered down version for fear of upsetting the Scots. I find many Scots agree with English votes for English issues. They do not want their UK MPs to be spending time on English issues. They just want them to secure a better deal for Scotland. There is no need to appease Scotland by giving England a rotten deal. The looser federal union which Labour has brought on us has to be fair to both Scotland and England. Being unfair to England will not solve the problem of Scotland, nor win anyone any extra votes north of the border.

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  1. Brian Taylor
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Spot on Mr Redwood, keep up the good work.

    • Hope
      Posted January 28, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      The flaw with your thoughts JR. is that it might encourage nationalism which the EU will try to prevent at any cost. It also goes against the sentiment of ever closer union. The EU is content with regionalisation of the UK but not nationalism in England. Therefore do not expect Cameron and Clarke types to go along with giving the English anything. Some how I think you already know this and it is electioneering posturing on your part because of Labour’s position to oppose EVEL.

  2. Mark B
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I very much agree with your second paragraph. We sought, but did not get, a resolution to the issue. This, in part, I believe because the rUK was never consulted or, offered a say on whether or not any new terms would be acceptable. This I believe was a grave political mistake. For example. Had the Scots known that a currency union with the rUK would be unlikely as the rUK would have to decide via its own referendum, it would have introduced some real fear, uncertainty and doubt into their minds. The people (rUK) and not the politicians would decide, and that is something the SNP and others could not counter.

    This fawning of the Scots has only created a situation akin to a petulant child crying bemoaning for more, knowing that if it does so long enough, the parent (rUK) would give in. They should have been shown the door and told to either shut-up or, walk through it.

    Labour created a Scottish Parliament because they genuinely believed that they will be able to create a Socialist Utopia on the backs of oil and the English. Their arrogance was astounding. Now they face near wipeout, and I for one will celebrate that. This issue and the fact that England, particularly by English elected MP’s, has been long ignored and denigrated.

    Unless the English get fair and just treatment, it will be England, and not the Scots, who will break up the UK. And I for one will shed few tears. Why ? Because if that what it takes to be treated as a citizen in my own country and not be classes as a ‘non-person’, then so be it !

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      “This fawning of the Scots has only created a situation akin to a petulant child crying bemoaning for more, knowing that if it does so long enough … ”

      It’s quite wrong to tar all of the Scots with the SNP brush; even among those who are prepared to vote for the SNP there will be many who do not agree with it but still reckon that it’s the best of the bad bunch on offer, a familiar story.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink


        You are probably right. But from my view, with the rise in SNP membership ‘after’ they voted to remain in the UK, despite being bribed, I find a little difficult to stomach right now.

        My main angst, is directed at the English elected UK MP’s like our kind host. I understand he like to model himself as someone ‘speaking for England’, but I asked him last year, what level of support he had on this issue. Clearly not as much as say, GAY Marriage.

        So the small matter of how I am governed in my own country, is of less importance to what was, and is, a non issue.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Indeed you were right in your book as you usually have been. It seem strange that the BBC and government nearly always promote the people who have been proved consistently wrong but on message all their lives. Being pro EU, full of green crap and for ever more tax, ever more regulation and ever more government seems to be the way to promotion, ennoblement or endless appearances on the BBC to push this drivel.

    The rise of the SNP in Scotland over Labour was indeed fairly predictable even though Labour did not see it and started it off. The Scottish voters have learned that the more they ask for the more they get (the Greeks too it seems). The coalition also foolishly allowed people to vote from 16 doubtless Labour will do this in England and stitch up the electoral system even more in their favour post May 7th.

    The last minute desperate offers by the party leaders and Gordon Brown were not approved by the English voters who have to pay for them and are thus another outrage against the English. Indeed any settlement clearly needs to be approved by an English referendum. But we know that the English are only ever given referendums on things like AV where the government are confident of how they will vote.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      @LL; “It seem strange that the BBC and government nearly always promote the people who have been proved consistently wrong but on message all their lives.”

      Not just the BBC, perhaps UK broadcasters are afraid of upsetting the government and regulators in ways that they never used to be 40 or so years ago. Media industry history over the last 30 years is littered with examples of what happens to broadcasters when they engage in good journalism, without breaking any laws, that upsets or is off message.

  4. Mick Anderson
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    We had several Scottish senior ministers in the higher echelons of Mr Blairs Government, so why would they have not accepted (or pushed for) extra powers for Holyrood during the devolution negotiations.

    Those negotiating on our behalf seem to be consistently returning with very poor results. Would they please accept their limitations and stop, before we end up with even less than the little we have left now?

    • Rita Webb
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      We should do as the Czech’s did and get a rid of an unproductive part of the island. You can dress it up as another “velvet divorce” to make things sweeter if you like. Then our celtic cousins can exhibit their “canniness with money” and do as Luxembourg did. In that they transformed their economy away from being based on coal and steel, just like Scotland’s, and into a financial services powerhouse that it is today. ….. Oops! Sorry I forgot that they had already tried and failed at that and what happened to RBS, HBOS, the Dunfermline Building Society in 2008/9.

      • Jerry
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Rita Webb; “We should do as the Czech’s did and get a rid of an unproductive part of the island.”

        Not sure what the population of Cornwall, never mind the Isle of Wight or Isles of Scilly, would say to that…

        • William Gruff
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:57 am | Permalink


          Not sure what the population of Cornwall, never mind the Isle of Wight or Isles of Scilly, would say to that.

          Oh yeah, never fought o’ dat. Sorry Ingerland, self-determination is off de agenda cos a minority in Cornwall an’ der Scillies may not like it.

          If you’re not sure what those people would say to we English putting our needs before theirs, why not ask them? It wouldn’t occur to me to do so because I couldn’t care less. I care only about England because I’m English not British, and if that makes me a ‘knuckle-dragger’ I care even less than I care about theever changing ‘settled will’ of the ‘pipple’ of Scortland.

          Here’s to independence for England.

      • Margaret Brandreth-J
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        The problem often is how clever others are at putting a spanner in the works or ‘dirty competition’ then getting rid of the so called unproductive places the twisters in an even better position.

  5. Mondeo Man
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Whether in or out the Kingdom the Scots don’t seem to care much about fairness and they are being encouraged not to.

    It is easy to be unfair to the English bogeymen – a mythical beast created by the BBC and American film industry and one that seems to be wholly believed by the English political class.

    Are we mistaking the word ‘appease’ for ‘apology’ ?

    It feels very much as though our elite is paying for the sins of their fathers with the wealth and security of the ordinary classes, whilst protecting themselves and their children from the cost.

    We rarely hear of politician’s sons and daughters going to war and we rarely see them going to bog standard comprehensives – I doubt tuition fees are much of a worry either.

  6. bluedog
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    An excellent post Dr JR, it is time for the United Kingdom to stand up to the SNP. As you say, ‘The looser federal union which Labour has brought on us has to be fair to both Scotland and England.’

    It is unfortunate that Labour was the first to propose a Constitutional Convention because the idea is now ‘not invented here’ from the Conservative perspective and cannot therefore be done. However such a Convention would be an important step in drawing out the arguments and claims of the parties and trying to work towards a mutually agreed position. Is there an adult somewhere in the Cabinet who can swallow their pride in the interests of the Union? There is a pressing need to devise an equitable constitutional settlement for the four nations of the UK before the whole thing fragments.

    One fails to detect any sign of realisation in David Cameron of the risks, let alone a feeling for a constructive solution. As you say, a perpetual bidding war is not a viable option. Unfortunately Cameron gives the impression of actually enjoying the adrenalin rush of perma-crisis as it gives him a chance to show off his undoubted tactical skills. The only problem is that his victories tend to be pyrrhic.

  7. David Cockburn
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    While I do find your arguments convincing I also remember the Quebec case: There the first referendum had a similar result to that in Scotland, the second was very close and the third was decisively lost by the nationals. The difference over that period was the the rest of Canada offered endless concessions (appeasement) to the nationalists.

  8. Jerry
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Two points, the first is that in the 1990s Labour finally go around to offering devolution, they decided to formally offer and legislate for devolution way back in the 1970s if not before, second, can someone think up a better phrase than “English votes for English laws”, every time I read the abbreviation ‘EVEL’ for some reason my brain ‘hears’ it as EVIL…! Why can’t England simply have its own Devolution from the UK Parliament?

    That said, I totally agree with you John, although I do say that in hindsight, as many might be.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      “… can someone think up a better phrase than “English votes for English laws””

      How about, “the same as the Scots have had for the past fifteen years”?

      Reply I always say English votes for English issues, as it is not just laws we need to make fairer. It is not then EVEL.
      Perhaps it could be English votes for English niceties EVEN

      • Know Dice
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        Should really be EVEN as that’s all I want.

        Just parity no more no less

      • Jerry
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply; Perhaps “English Votes for English [democratic] necessities” would be better? That could still be EVEN.

      • William Gruff
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply:

        Why not just ‘an English Parliament with powers at least equal to that of Scotland’. That’s simple, direct and unambiguous.

      • Monty
        Posted January 28, 2015 at 12:58 am | Permalink

        “It’s quite wrong to tar all of the Scots with the SNP brush…”
        According to the opinion polls, it is absolutely right.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          How so, when according to most of the opinion polls more than half of the Scots do not intend to vote for the SNP?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted January 28, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        Or, it could be what the Scots have already got, a separate and separately elected devolved assembly, that is if you think that the English are also worthy of such a thing.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:28 am | Permalink

        Reply to reply.

        Yes ! I think you have Mr. Redwood MP. “English Votes for English Niceties” – EVEN

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I see Newsnight last night decided to react to the mess that the EU and the EURO has created in Greece by get three BBC favourites (EU, ERM and EURO enthusiast lefty) Ken Clark, (private school enthusiast) Diane Abbot and the pleasant but totally misguided green English Literature graduate, Caroline Lucas.

    There to debate the vital issue (to the BBC anyway) of whether election result in Greece would revive Marxism in the UK.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      In Scotland ? Yes ! Everywhere else ? So, so.

  10. Leslie Singleton
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Once the EU, hopefully, breaks up entirely or at least the nationalists look at Greece and come to appreciate that being a small peripheral country on the edges of the EU is not the bed of roses that they seem to think, not to mention, again hopefully, oil stays down and the nationalists decide they want a share of English fracking, maybe, just maybe, there will be a turning of the tide. God willing Labour will get what they deserve for what they have done.

    • William Gruff
      Posted January 28, 2015 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      Leslie Singleton:

      Yes, let’s just prey that the Scotch don’t decide to stop living at our expense and pay for their own party. How could we ever cope on our own?

      • William Gruff
        Posted January 28, 2015 at 12:26 am | Permalink

        For ‘prey’ read pray.

        That’s what comes of ‘multi-tasking’ without concentrating.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    What a shame that all political leaders of the main three legacy Party’s did not agree with you, or the millions of us out here who could see their actions were just fuelling a disaster.

    Put very simply its now devo max for all nations, or no one.

    The only decision to make now, is what powers should remain under joint UK control.

  12. They Work for Us?
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately the “system” relies on a quiescent and pliant England to fund and carry the other parts of the UK so that they can practice and enjoy their expensive Socialist hobby called devolution. Politicians in reality, Apart from Dr JR., a few other conservatives and UKIP, see little personal advantage for them and so into the long grass EVEL must go.

  13. Richard1
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Appeasement of Scottish nationalists is an absurdity, the ‘vow’ was a silly response to a rogue poll. With oil prices at current levels the Scottish separatists’ economic plans would be in tatters, there is no need to appease them. But its going ahead so now we clearly need Justice for England, no ifs no buts.

    The current Greek debacle in the eurozone reminds us what a disaster it is for a large solvent country to go into a currency union with even a very small high spending country which can run up bills on the joint bank account. In any future vote on Scottish separatism let’s be very clear in advance that a currency union is out of the question. We don’t need to debate north sea oil its not worth anything significant anymore.

  14. The Prangwizard
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    We have had appeasement of Scottish demands from Unionists in their desperate attempts to hold the Union together, but we have had, in parallel a concerted campaign by them and the British Establishment, along with the Left in all its guises, as if as one, to stamp on any claims from the English for similar rights. If there had been fairness their would not be resentment.

    English nationalists like myself have been labelled with all manner of insults and accusations which I bitterly resent; neo-fascist and racists being just two. It has a weakening affect on English confidence, which of course it aimed to do, where many are afraid to fly St George’s flag, and for all of this the perpetrators and their apologists should never be forgiven.

    And where has all this got us? We have the prospect of a large group of Scottish nationalist MPs who will probably no show respect to your ‘English Votes….’ and who may well be in collaboration with Labour after the next General Election. We already have creeping and hidden regionalisation in England; this will accelerate if this occurs. Again this I think will suit many presently in authority in England.

    I hope that at some stage soon the crying need for a true parliament for England will be seen and recognised by many more people than we now have. There is no future for England as a nation without one; we are beginning to see its destruction, and those who speak for England must now speak and campaign for a true parliament – unambiguously and unapologetically.

  15. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    “Labour and some others belong to the appeasement school”.

    A bit harsh to refer to the entire coalition government as “some others”. Messrs Cameron and Clegg also appeared as signatories to “The Vow”. Based on what we know now it seems Mr Cameron was more concerned about the views of the Queen than his party members and backbenchers.

  16. They Work for Us?
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Having read that the Govt has backed down on the vote on fracking exploration in order to avoid losing a vote in the commons, perhaps we should have SVSL. Only MPs with proven Scientific qualifications can vote on Scientific matters.
    If the Govt had lost the vote, it could then have ridiculed its opponents as opportunistic proponents of emotive and non-scientific twaddle. By avoiding the vote they just gave in.
    Let us have a referendum on wether we will allow our politicians to pursue the green blob at the end of the rainbow.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Why is fracking any worse than the mining on which this country was built ?

      And of carbon targets – well, we’re hardly improving that situation by importing people here by the hundreds of thousands who’s main aim is to increase their personal consumption.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      @TWFU; “perhaps we should have SVSL. Only MPs with proven Scientific qualifications can vote on Scientific matters.”

      Oh please no! Sometimes, far more non-scientific twaddle gets delivered by those with (so called) proven Scientific qualifications than any number of the supposed unqualified, one only has to look at the nonsense coming out of the IPCC and the UEA with regards to “climate change”. Common sense, and no vestige interests, are often far better…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 28, 2015 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        You need not just scientists but honest ones (actually honest physicists, chemists and mathematicians mainly). People who know their stuff and are not paid to be biased and will not bend in the face of the evidence or money. Richard Feynman, Richard Lindzen, Freeman Dyson types – alas to few of them around. So many in academia and industry are just paid advocates for the line that get the most research grants or subsidies. Or they are so lacking in ability and confidence that they just go with the current group think fashion.

        It is completely idiotic to get scientific experts to give various opinions then expect some daft MPs (with perhaps a degree in PPE, Jurisprudence or Social Anthropology or PR) and who has clearly failed to understand a word of of the science (as indicated by their idiotic line of questioning and misuse of scientific expressions and units) to then make a rational judgement.

        The physics and economics will not change just because some idiotic green loon likes the look of wind turbines or tidal barrages. Or more cynically just thinks there are votes in it.

  17. Iain Moore
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    They haven’t learnt from history, Danegeld didn’t buy us peace in the past, and giving the Scots constitutional geld isn’t buying us stability now.

  18. Old Albion
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    JR. You are absolutely correct with your description of events and outcomes caused by Devolution. Except the use of “looser Federal union” in your penultimate sentence.
    We are not in a Federal Union, when one component part (England) is treated unequally. EVoEL does not create a federation. The only way to do so is by the creation of an English parliament with powers at least equal to that of the Scottish parliament.
    Fortunately the continued rise of the SNP, who will possibly have 50 MP’s in Westminster next May. Means Scottish Independance has not ‘gone away for a generation’ I fully expect a second referendum before the election in 2020. Hopefully they will ‘get it right’ on that occasion.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      @Old Albion; The SNP having 50 MPs only matters if they are the balance of power at Westminster, but if they are then surely many of their argument for needing independence vanish as they will be able to get the fare deal for Scotland that they say can’t be had from within the Union. On the other hand if they have 50 MPs at Westminster and are not the balance of power then they might want another referendum but they won’t necessarily get it.

  19. oldtimer
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    You are right about this. Whatever is offered will never be enough for the SNP short of total independence.

  20. Bert Young
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    EVEL is the only solution . If the Scots can’t go along with this , then let them go their own way ; recent turn of events (oil price in particular) show how stupid they would be . The outcome of the Scottish referendum (should not have happened in the first place) showed the Scots wanted to stay in the Union ; oblige them now to play by the Union rules and not try to weedle another position out of the uncertainty of the GE . It is up to our leadership to show that the will of the majority must be obeyed .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Yeah sure, and what will happen on May 8th if we get the horrors of a Labour + SNP majority? This look rather likely given Cameron’s broken compass.

  21. Lifelogic
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “Appeasement rarely works” very true – if you keep rewarding certain behaviours you tend to get much more of them – surely anyone with children or pet dogs has learned this.

    The same applies to government benefits payments that encourage people not to bother getting a job or even bothering to learn how to do a job.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      I briefly heard a BBC interviewer challenging a Conservative MP today that reducing the benefits cap to £23k pa would move a non-working family of 4 into ‘poverty’. £23k tax free is equal to a salary of at least £30k pa. Plus there’s free health, education and some pension provision. On such an income, whilst money may be tight, it is absurd to define this as ‘poverty’. Its a distortion of language.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        In London 30k can be a poverty wage for a family.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Indeed but it does rather depend on housing and area. Housing for a family of four in London may well cost £20,000 PA.

        • stred
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          My bird is a highly qualified academic working near the centre of London. She cannot afford to live in the centre and lives instead 10 miles out in 3 bedroom house sold last year for £240k. The area is no more expensive than towns 60 miles, has a safe local centre, good health facilities and schools and the local residents are ex -East End friendly and decent on the whole. In places like Camden only the rich, benefit recipients, and young people willing to share can afford to live.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        I agree Richard.
        As long as poverty is defined as anyone on an income below a certain percentage of the average income, then it is impossible to eradicate and with a rising population poverty will automatically rise.
        You could therefore reduce poverty by reducing the population.
        Its just maths.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 28, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          Indeed or if Bill Gates moved to the UK poverty would increase hugely as the average wage and “poverty” level would increase.

  22. JoolsB
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Scotland, Scotland, Scotland, that’ all we ever hear. When are any of the anti-English Con/Lab/Lib parties going to ask England, just once, what England wants for a change?

    Surprise, surprise that if England ends up with any form of EVEL, which is doubtful in itself, it will be the watered down version to suit the Scots and the rest of this so called union. After all we mustn’t upset them must we by offering England a few crumbs of what they already have? Stuff upsetting the English, who cares? Obviously not our spineless MPs squatting in English seats, that’s for sure, who NEVER EVER put England’s needs first for a change?

    EVEL is a sop and unworkable, especially as your leader has pledged to continue the skewed Barnett Formula which royally shafts England yet again, but at least it’s a step in the right direction and should, in any democracy, (which we are anything but) eventually lead to an English Parliament whereas any watered down version of EVEL is an insult and a kick in the teeth to every Englishman and woman but then why should we be surprised? The biggest mystery is why your leader and your party are so intent on sticking two fingers up at the English electorate on whom they depend for their support.

    As much as I despise Labour and the Lib Dums and everything they stand for, I am beginning to think the best thing to happen next May will be for them to form a coalition government with the the SNP. Maybe then the English will at last see the contempt in which they are held and how much they have been sold out by all the main parties, even the party whom they stupidly gave their votes to. Hopefully then, the English will finally say they have had enough of this farce called the ‘United Kingdom’ and put an end to it once and for all. Bring it on!

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Jools – Should have done it in 2010.

    • William Gruff
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      As an unashamed English nationalist I’m hoping fervently for a Labour + SNP + any other Anglophobe coalition, which cannot but guarantee that demands for an English Parliament dominate the 2020 election, and offer the hope that the ‘United’ Kingdom will be history by 2030.

      Here’s to an English Parliament, with powers at least equal to that of Scotland, and here’s to independence for England.

  23. JimS
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    The ‘people’ don’t think that ‘Westminster’ is listening to them, (how can they when they have sold out to the EU?), hence the rise of protest parties such as UKIP and the SNP, (the anti-Westminster feeling is just as strong in St. Albans as St. Andrews).

    Cameron is now the third ethnic Scot in succession to be PM, yet he came within a soon to be banned fag paper of loosing the Union. Instead of now listening to ‘the people’, who voted FOR the Union, our deaf MPs run around like stupid chickens thinking up more ways to kill the Union by attrition.

    One Union, One Parliament.

  24. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    JR: “Labour and some others belong to the appeasement school.”
    Your leader and Clegg being the most prominent of them. The one exception to their appeasing tendancies is to the English for whom they display at best indifference and at worst contempt.

  25. stred
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    ‘Labour and some others..’ Including your disastrous leader and his deputy presumably.

    The Sky poll today shows Labour or Labour with the SNP ruling England in 100 days time, with a large chunk of the conservative vote (ex Conservative and Labour) only represented by 2 MPs. If you have the opportunity, could you recommend the tenants of no 10 and 11 watch the brilliant programme about Magna Carta by David Starkey broadcast yesterday. He explains very clearly the reasons and importance for it and how the English and American English wrote down the principles in order to prevent the rulers grabbing the belongings of people or imprisoning them withoutdue justice. The coalition and most of the MPs in your party have recently done away with both of these.

    As explained in the programme, every time the king tried to do away with Magna Carta he was reminded that Magna Carta was king, as the axe came down. We have a chicken in charge at present and will soon have a choice between other headless chickens running the country much the same way as at present.

  26. Bill
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink


    It is very difficult to see what will satisfy the SNP. Salmond’s whole case seems to have been built on the pot of gold in the North Sea. Now that that gold is worth less and his calculations look absurd, we are waiting for an apology. Instead consistent demands for independence of a sort are made…but we know that, even if independence were granted, England would be blamed for many years to come for any shortcomings in the SNP’s own handling of the Scottish economy. A similar psychological profile is to be found in Robert Mugabe who blames Britain for the starvation of the Zimbabweans despite the fact that he gained independence more than 30 years ago.

    For anyone who wants to look critically at Salmond’s historical narrative, where better to start that Hugh Trevor-Roper’s scintillating ‘The Invention of Scotland: myth and history’ (Yale University Press)?

  27. Sir Graphus
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The independence movement is at a high water at present; natural sympathy for the referendum losers, the SNP fiercely stoking a grievance agenda. Scottish Labour has been a mess.

    But, the SNP has turned very hard left since the referendum. That won’t be popular forever. The oil price, the buttress of their economic argument, has shown itself v wobbly. Those poll ratings cannot last.

    Meanwhile, I agree, the English mustn’t be forgotten in this constitutional rearrangement. The English people want EVEL. They do not want to be Balkanised into regional govts. They do not want to pay for another thousand elected politicians, buildings and civil servants. It could be done tomorrow.

  28. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    As a patriotic Englishman resident in England I just want the same as the Scots resident in Scotland have had for fifteen years now – a separate and separately elected devolved Parliament and government for the whole of England, with the same powers as those which have been granted to the Scottish institutions. I want it to still be within the UK as the sovereign state, but with a proper, clear and simple federal structure for the UK akin to those which work well enough for many other countries such as Australia. That’s all that I want, it doesn’t seem too much to ask, and I don’t see why all of the old parties are so reluctant to give me what I want and at best try to fob me off with some EVEL fudge and at worst keep trying to break up England.

    • acorn
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Agreed Denis. It amazes me how our politicians find it so difficult to come up with a properly engineered solution. As you say, there are many “federal” government structures that work. Once it is decided what public services will be provided at federal level; and, what will be provided at the “country” level, you can set a fiscal budget plans for funding separate federal and country versions of existing taxes etc. Say, federal and country income tax rates for instance.

      With the House of Lords turned into the “UK federal” parliament; the HoC becomes the English parliament, all that needs to be decided is the democratic representation at the federal level. Possibly one for each UK NUTS3 unit, circa 139, or, at most, one for each local authority unit, (LAU1), circa 415.

      • bluedog
        Posted January 28, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        Precisely, the perfect solution. It’s impossible to believe there is not a position paper circulating in the higher reaches of Whitehall setting out the various constitutional options for the UK, a sort of constitutional primer for the education of the Cabinet. While the federal model you outline is the only viable solution, one suspects that there is a least a marginal note against the federal model saying, ‘Parliament no longer supreme, ultimate authority is the Supreme Court’. Our blog host is clever enough to realise this without being told. Note too that Blair established a Supreme Court without saying why. Did he have further devolutionary ambitions, never realised thanks to Brown’s coup?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 29, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          Supreme Court judges only hold their posts on good behaviour and in extremis can be removed by Parliament, so it is not true that the court is now the supreme, ultimate authority.

          • acorn
            Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

            I was taught that Parliament was the highest court in the land, apparently that isn’t true anymore! The classic three pillars of government have never been separate in the, so called, mother of parliaments. The Supreme Court statutes took the Judiciary out of the Legislature and the Executive. Unfortunately, there is no sign that we will ever take the Executive out of the Legislature. (Or replace the elected dictatorship we call the Executive, with a proper King 😉 )

   “Through the provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act (2005), the Supreme Court has since been established and commenced hearing cases in 2009. Justices of the Supreme Court only sit in the House of Lords once they have retired. Only the European Court of Human Rights now has the ability to overturn the rulings of the Supreme Court.

            As one of the three branches of government, the judiciary has an important role to play in the UK’s system. It must ensure not only that the rule of law is upheld, but also that it regulates the “statute book” in accordance with the law. [The UK has a Common Law system.] The judiciary is also responsible for formulating common law, which is based on legal precedent set in judges’ court rulings.”

  29. Mitchel
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Judged by his spineless performance in the final week or so of the referendum campaign,Cameron is very much of the appeasing tendency too.

  30. Peter Stroud
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    As I read this interesting article, serious discussions were going on, on TV, about a Labour/SNP coalition government, in just over one hundred days from now. How can it be democratic for Scots Nationalists to have the power to decide the future of a Union, from which they wish to leave? Does Labour realise the dangerous unintended consequences of its devolution policy?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      If Labour need the SNP to gain power on May 8th you can be sure they will give then everything they want.

      Just as Cameron chose to run a pro EU, green crap, tax increasing, Libdem government after throwing the last election with his EU ratting and his wet approach.

  31. Robert Taggart
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Indeed Johnny, but…
    England be ‘stuffed’ ! None of the ‘mainstream’ parties are offering England the only lasting solution to this union conundrum – an ALL England directly elected Parliament.
    Like your good self (?) – this was never something oneself wanted – until Liebore trifled with the old set up. EV4EL within the Union Parliament will always be in grave danger of watering down or even abolition – by future governments of whatever party – who find its strictures too restricting.
    Either way Johnny – keep up the good fight – not least within your own party !

  32. Lifelogic
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I see that Dr Tim Ball suggests some ice core data may well indicate that 2014 is among the 3% coldest years of the last 10,000 years.

    North America seems to rather cold too at the moment, not too much shortage of ice and snow there currently. Still at least they have cheap shale gas, coal and oil to keep them warm unlike greencrap UK/EU, where prices are often double.

    • stred
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      The predicted record snowstorm for the eastern US seems to have been much less than expected. The news and weather forecasters may feel they have to predict the worst in case it happens and they are blamed for not warning in time. Also, perhaps the firm belief in climate change may be leading to the search for new records. Most of us on this blog will be able to remember the winter of 63, when snow was 3 feet deep and the rivers froze, the hot summer of 76 and the hurricane of 86? when half the trees in SE England blew down. But these days severe gales have become ‘weather bombs’ and in the US when a lot of snow is predicted they have lockdowns and the BBC sends reporters over to show us snowflakes landing on his head.

      Reply 1987 high winds

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        And some the north sea floods of 1953 with over 2500 killed in the UK, Holland, Belgium, Scotland and at sea.

        It seem they cannot even predict snow storms in New York a few hours before with any accuracy. What chance have these greencrap, soothsayers got with the climate in 100 year time? They did it seems get 7 inches of snow though. Over reacting is just what government, weather agencies, politicians and health and safety people do that is where the money is. What they do not realise is that over reacting can be dangerous too with cancelled operations and the likes.

        What happened to all the BSE scares, the bird flu, swine flu, millennium bug and all the rest. Scares in the state sector are how you get noticed & some funding – better if they are not real scares as then you can claim a victory anyway without even needing to do anything.

    • fedupsouthener
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Agree. If Cameron backs down on fracking and appeases the Greens, FOE and any other hippy organisation then he is surely mad. This country needs the jobs and industry needs cheaper reliable energy. The wind industry has already managed to contaminate drinking water and yet the Greens and others have said nothing about this but just keep going on about the ‘perils’ of fracking. Get a life.

    • Jon
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      I read that link to the point that I was reading something pointless. An argument there was that temperature measurements were not made of the mountains. Well if you were to stand on top of those mountains as I do and look down you will see a retraction of the glaciers, a fast retraction!

      This is not about whether it is happening it is about how we manage it until we have the ability to go more carbon free, At the moment that means the UK with it’s regulation is far better placed to extract mineral energy as it pollutes far less than would be the case in say eastern Europe. Global polution would reduce if far more was extracted here.

  33. Gumpy Goat
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    for once I agree with you

  34. Atlas
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    The Scots will have to learn to lie in the Bed they are making for themselves. I just don’t see why the English have to pay for it. English votes only, on English matters!

    Posted January 27, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    With the composition of TV studio audiences in such programmes as Question Time it is easy for the politically-interested to assume everyday people have the same concerns, in the same strength with the same priority as outlined in discussion. They do not. It is mostly entertainment for the those who have already made up their minds.

    I doubt whether most English people give a jot about the mechanics of Scottish devolution, and for all the media hype, most Scots are too busy with their daily lives to spend one fleeting thought about it post-referendum.

    But it seems the Labour Party is particularly interested. Its ranks are split north and south of the border. The SNP knows any future cooperation with the Labour Party would sound its own death-knell. Both parties are busily weaving a tangled web.

    One can rely on the ineptitude and internal divisions of the Labour Party to thwart its electoral ambitions: its frantic attempts to appeal to Scottish voters is seen in disbelief north of the border and quite frankly as boring,- south of the border.
    English votes for English issues is indeed important but for now the Labour Party should be given enough rope…

  36. mike fowle
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    If David Cameron has not yet realised that everything Gordon Brown touches is a disaster, one can only wonder where he’s been for the last two decades.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 28, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Cameron is rather emulating him alas in that regard.

  37. A different Simon
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    The devolutionist’s just shout the loudest and Westminster gives it to them .

    Westminster doesn’t even bother to pretend to play hard to get .
    If one didn’t know better one might assume it was EU Regionalisation by stealth .

    Maybe they saw how readily Westminster bends over when the Brussel’s accidentally drops the soap and concluded , correctly , they could do the same ?

    It’s not just the SNP , quango’s , NGO’s , non-profits , fake charities are awash with money from the HM Govt .

    By going along with devolution Westminster is betraying the majority of Scot’s who are sensible and want to stay in the Union .

  38. William Gruff
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    We’re promised a Labour + SNP coalition in May. I hope we get it.

    • Chris S
      Posted January 27, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      It might be what the polls are predicting, but look what happened to Kinnock !

      I suspect voters’s pencils will hover over the ballot paper and imagine Miliband in Downing Street. A majority of them will them vote for someone else..

      If The Geek makes it, you will get what you deserve. I hope you will like the mess they will get the country into – yet again.

      I will be decamping abroad.

      • William Gruff
        Posted January 28, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        Chris S:

        If The Geek makes it, you will get what you deserve. I hope you will like the mess they will get the country into – yet again.

        I will not like it at all, nor, I hope, will my compatriots. I hope the mess is so bad that the people of England will finally rouse themselves, stop thinking of themselves as ‘British’ and demand an English Parliament with powers at least equal to that of Scotland.

        History has shown that the English are more than capable of rebuilding the country from a ruin, which is what government by Scots has always led to. We can do nothing until we get the ‘British’ out of our affairs.

      • stred
        Posted January 29, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Someone suggested the Conservative campaign would include a picture of Messrs Salmon and Millipede with the question ‘ do you fancy being governed by these two …… ? This approach would be even more effective if their bodies were shown dressed in Rab C Nesbitt string vests and Jamie style tartan trousers.

  39. Iain Gill
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I think lots of voters down south in England would vote SNP given a chance simply to get rid of Scotland and return some basic freedoms to the English

  40. Jon
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    A clever early insight and prediction of what turned out to be the case.

    When I’ve watched first ministers questions it’s noticeable that Labour long ago at Holyrood decided to copy some of the SNP’s tactics, to alienate Westminster and the UK at the expense of the supporters of the UK in Scotland. It is concerning what could emerge after May if the Conservatives can’t form a government.

  41. Martin
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    What about your party’s role in the matter?

    In the 1970s and 80s the Conservatives wrapped themselves very tightly in the Union Flag and Britishness. The Conservatives under Mrs Thatcher became unpopular even hated in Scotland. The result is that brand Britain got badly tarnished by association with the Conservatives in Scotland.

  42. fedupsouthener
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m English, living in Scotland and I feel that the 3 parties panicked into giving away too many powers. Many Scots did not want to leave the UK and once they saw how the money markets were reacting many more felt the same.

    Personally, those that want more powers make me sick. My children still live in England. My son is at University and will end up with £18,000 worth of debt. My daughter and her husband have to work all hours to make ends meet. Here, in the South West of Scotland it is cheap to rent property and you can buy a 3 bed semi for around £60,000. The national minimum wage is the same north or south of the border. Wages in England are not all high. Renting and buying property is expensive in the south. A 2 bed flat is around £800 per month and £150,000 to buy. The Scots get free eye tests, free dental check ups, free university and free prescriptions. They still moan though and the perception is that the English have it easy!! Perhaps if they had to fund all of this themselves they would realise just what they have now. It would be more difficult now though with the price of oil! Many Scots are ashamed of how the SNP are acting and many would go and live in England if independence became a reality.

  43. Monty
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    Sturgeon is a political wrecking ball. She has signalled her determination to meddle as much as she can in English matters, and we can expect all that interference to be damaging to English interests. Causing acrimony and strife, is her only purpose in doing it. Her strategy is to build up English hostility to the Scots, on the assumption that the Scots will then be pressured into independance whether they want it or not. Well if Scottish voters are stupid enough to let her do that, it’s their lookout.
    The PM ought to be taking steps, urgently, to safeguard the sovereignty of England, and our democratic right to determine the future of our nuclear deterrent.

  44. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Appeasement does rarely work.. The government’s agenda of appeasing left-liberal politically correct behaviour into ”British Values?” is a fine example.
    That old British value of tolerance is being replaced with the imposition of a gangsta style ‘Respect’ agenda.

    Tolerating a person or their lifestyle doesn’t mean you also have to approve of them or teach them in schools. It doesn’t exclude criticism. ‘Respect’ does.

  • 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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