Queen’s Speech – powers for Scotland and England

Her Majesty will announce the extra powers for Scotland which Labour and Conservatives offered prior to the referendum. As we have discussed recently, this will need to include a new financial settlement when Parliament comes to debate and approve the detail. She should also announce early progress on English votes for English needs (EVEN) , which I expect to be undertaken by an amendment to Standing Orders of the Commons in the first instance.

The bigger question behind this work is can the Union now be stabilised? Is there some degree of devolution which will satisfy the majority of Scots, even if it leaves their SNP MPs disappointed? Is there some complementary level of devolution to England which can make England think we now have a fairer settlement? How do we avoid devolution being a process rather than a settlement? Might it prove to be like peeling an onion, where there is always another layer to remove, as the SNP hope?

I wrote “The death of Britain?” at the end of the last century, arguing that lop sided evolution at home, and the transfer of substantial powers abroad in the EU could prove to be forces which threatened the union of the UK. So it has proved. A new constitutional settlement needs the repatriation of power from Brussels, and a fair devolution of power to all four parts of the Union. This in turn requires a sense that the money is shared fairly.

Our union is above all a currency, benefits and tax union. We pool all the revenues, share all the expenses, and follow one overall budget, money and interest rate policy. If Scotland seeks to unpick too much of the spending and borrowing part of this it can undermine the rest, and can lead to a sense of greater unfairness in other parts of the Union. You only need to calculate precisely who puts in what and who takes out what if you no longer wish to pool everything. Knowledge of exact contributions and disbursements soon leads to rows over the settlement and the idea of common insurance is damaged.

The SNP will be a vocal part of the opposition. They will mainly be arguing about money. They think the UK should borrow and spend more, especially in Scotland. They do not see the irony that they also think the UK should stay in the EU come what may. If we obeyed the rules of the EU properly we would immediately cut public spending and put up taxes to get down to the 3% maximum permitted deficit. So why don’t the SNP rail against EU budget rules in the way they do against “tory spending plans”?

I think the most powerful intervention the parties of the Union made in the referendum campaign to sway more Scots to vote for in was when all 3 main union parties said they would not let an independent Scotland remain in the sterling system. I think this had far more impact than offers of yet more devolution. Union parties should learn from that experience.

Yes, I see the parallel with the EU. If the EU says to us there is no chance of change, then let us leave. Our commitment to the EU is far less deep and well based than Scotland’s reliance on the pound. Were I a Scottish nationalist I would want my own Scottish currency to become fully independent. I found it odd they could not say this. I guess it was because most Scots do want to stay with the pound.

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86 Comments

  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    The “Queen of Scotland” (Nicola Sturgeon) delivered a speech yesterday, which cannot make comfortable reading for the more zealous eurosceptics, even though they may deny this.

    Reply What was uncomfortable about it? The SNP likes the EU because they do not really want to be independent.

    • DaveM
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Except Peter, she’s not the Queen of Scotland, she’s the leader of a party and the leader of a collection of local councils. Her subjects voted to stay in the UK therefore her subjects will abide by the will of the UK as a whole.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        Exactly. Anyone who want to retain the pound, stay in the EU, have an “independent” Scotland, keep the Queen and push left wing magic money tree economics together with even a possible Mugabe type of land grab is clearly a little confused.

        • Hope
          Posted May 28, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          I thought the Tory manifesto claimed EVEL not EVEN? It appears the manifesto is unravelling very quickly, including kicking the Uman rights stuff into the long grass. A good New Labour charter though. Blair will be pleased.

          Reply Mr Cameron reaffirmed his intention to get it through, despite the opposition of SNP, Labour, David Davies etc.

          • Hope
            Posted May 29, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            Your manifesto States EVEL not EVEN, Cameron stated in October on the steps of No.10 that only a Tory party would deliver EVEL. Did he lie or is this another broken promise to all those English voters?

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Dave M. No, she’s not the Queen of Scotland but all the time everyone is afraid of saying no to her she acts more like it every day. Not only do those of us in Scotland who voted to stay in the UK feel let down by the Scottish system, we sure as hell feel let down by Westminster too. Some of us don’t want any of the uncertainty we are having to put up with anymore than the English do and quite frankly, we are fed up with being stuck in the middle of a stupid, futile argument where so many lives are not being taken seriously.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Independence might be a slightly overrated illusion in this age of interdependence. Anyway, it is seen in various places that regional distinctiveness and aspirations for self-rule blossom under the more protective and collective umbrella of e.g. the EU. If the English vote “OUT” and the Scottish “IN” I can see some grave constitutional issues looming. Therefore I expect the UK government to steer towards an outcome for which a UK majority will happily vote “IN”.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        Peter,
        You really must keep up; the Conservative government always intended to steer towards an outcome which keeps us locked in the EU regardless of the Scots.

    • libertarian
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Peter vL

      You’re right it made me very uncomfortable, I pulled a stomach muscle laughing so much. What a crock. Sums up everything about those that view the EU as the way to go, its seen as a free meal ticket, funded by a smaller and smaller group of wealthier countries. Join us in the 21st century and see the world Peter, stop hanging around in the shadow of Germany picking up crumbs. Once upon a time the Dutch strode the world as a trade collusus, its sad to see that once great nation end up as a regional backwater of Greater Germanyl

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        @libertarian: I accept that you may be ill-informed, but I doubt that many people would look at the UK as a 21st century country: your H.o.L., your democratic distortions in the H.o.C., The dissmal female representation, and I won’t even start about your daft plans about leaving the European Convention and moving backward in time to become a dito country.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      John, never a truer word spoken. So why then does Cameron keep giving in to her????

    • bluedog
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      If there was ever any doubt about your identity as a Dutchman, Mr PvL, your post removes that doubt. Most Britons are aware that the correct title would be ‘Queen of Scots’.

  2. Sandra Cox
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    John, I think today’s title should read “EVEN More Powers for Scotland and Another Booby Prize for England”.

    You must be disappointed that Hague has been thinking about fairness for England for over fifteen years, and all he could come up with as his parting gift to the people of England is EVEN!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Shameful, isn’t it?

      Last night Sky News said England would be promised “more regional devolution”, which we well know has been and still is directed at the “dissolution” of England, not “devolution” within it; and it’s the Tory party, which totally depends on votes in England, which is now proposing to pursue that course on behalf of the EU, and will not contemplate granting the English the same as the Scots have had for fifteen years, or even asking the despised English in a referendum whether that is what they would want rather than some useless fudge.

      • Hope
        Posted May 28, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Well said Denis. The amount of money given to the Scotts so the gap of public spending on English citizens to Scotts has widened considerably, not in full public glare. Our taxes given away by Cameron, once more! This is what JR stood for and voted for as an MP despite contradictory/contrasting blogs.

        Reply I stand for what I write and say on this blog and in the Commons

        • Hope
          Posted May 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          JR, what is confusing is that you stood and got elected on the Tory manifesto and you said your party intended to implement it in full. The manifesto states it will continue to devolve where there are elected mayors. This is regionalisation, and to some of us dissolution, of our country. This is the EU plan!

          You need to be clear what you stood to get elected upon, ie Tory manifesto, and what you write in blogs, the two are not in agreement!

          Reply I stood on the Conservative Manifesto as amended by my written and oral statement to my electors. No thinking MP agrees with everything in his or her party’s manifesto.

  3. Old Albion
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Sturgeon is playing a canny game. Disappointed at not winning the independence referendum and riding high on the SNP’s success, she is deliberately causing friction between Scotland and Westminster (therefore England) She wants a second referendum but won’t risk calling it until she is confident of victory.
    She will argue Scotland should suffer no cuts. She will argue against an EU referendum (the Scottish tail wagging the English dog)
    I say let them go. Give them full fiscal autonomy, scrap the Barnett formula. See if they can survive without English subsidy. If they can? they will vote again and become independent Scotland and junior EU member.
    If they can’t survive, they’ll come crawling back. (personally I wouldn’t want them back)

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      I don’t understand your choice of pseudonym.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    As you say you indeed argued “that lop sided evolution at home, and the transfer of substantial powers abroad in the EU could prove to be forces which threatened the union of the UK.”

    You were quite right. It was indeed entirely predicable, as were the ERM disaster and the EURO disaster. But being proved consistently right never seems to be much of an advantage in politics. The Lords and collections of Knighthoods are stuffed with people who have been proved wrong of almost everything all their lives. Green loons, ERM & EURO enthusiasts, over tax borrow and waste enthusiasts, magic money tree loons, endless lawyers, PPE graduates and career politicians/”consultants” …..

    So if seems Cameron has, in effect, ratted on the human rights promise already and is trying to rush the EU referendum through with his pathetic fig leaf fudge that he is concocting – just as soon as he thinks he can win one.

    Full steam ahead with his no nation, wet socialist, EUphile, over tax borrow and waste, green crap approach to politics it seems.

    A clearly biased question giving a YES vote to the stay in side. Statistically people feel happier voting YES than NO it seems more positive. So Cameron has already sloped the field of play.

    The question should be do you want:

    A To be taxed & governed by the EU with EU courts supreme.
    B To be taxed & governed by Westminster with UK courts supreme.

    Reply The human rights legislation is not binned but delayed. Mr Gove needs to persuade David Davies and a few others.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Delayed for this parliament and brought back perhaps for the next manifesto one assumes.

      Rather like the £1M IHT threshold (each) as promised by Osborne 8? years ago but now suggested in a watered down form & paid for by more pension mugging. Still not yet implemented either.

      Reply No, delayed for first year to discuss and consult.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        We shall see, I cannot see anything happening on the ECHR before the referendum too likely to stir up trouble. Then if the referendum result is for in (as is likely) it might be kicked into the long grass, perhaps to become another vague manifesto promise for 2020.

    • ian wragg
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      What has the Conservative party been doing all these years. You’ve been on about repealing the HRA and having a referendum for ages but now you need time to consult.
      Just what is CMD renegotiating John, there is no indication for the public to make a judgement on just some half arsed leaks.
      Why can’t you let Scotland have fiscal autonomy and make it clear they are responsible for their own debts.
      I and many more are fed up listening to fish face bleating on and on. They got 4% of the vote and were outvoted in the referendum. How about reminding them of that.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        I can tell you that many of us Scots are just as fed up with her ranting! For God’s sake, when is Cameron going to stand up to her and do something useful. How come he cannot do anything about Human right and I heard nothing mentioned about repealing the climate change act! We don’t need reminding that Scotland voted to stay in the UK. I for one, voted to stay in and I also don’t want any more powers for Scotland. They already have enough!!! Just rolling over to them is making life hell for many. Please John, tell Cameron to give Sturgeon her wish to keep subsides for wind but for Scotland to pay for it and then she’ll change her mind. This will ensure all wind farms end up in Scotland but then that is what I always said would happen. Cameron will be happy that the English voters will be on side and stuff the Scots! The public will still be paying the same amount of subsidies for wind but just funding community projects in Scotland at the same time as making people in the whole of the UK feel the effects of fuel poverty as EVERYONE in the UK will still pay. How does that make any sense? I am fuming!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      And you are quite right to link the lopsided devolution with the euro, both given momentum by Major when he agreed to the Maastricht Treaty, including:

      “67) The following Chapter shall be inserted:

      “CHAPTER 4 THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

      ARTICLE 198a

      A Committee consisting of representatives of regional and local bodies, hereinafter referred to as “the Committee of the Regions”, is hereby established with advisory status.

      The number of members of the Committee of the Regions shall be as follows:

      Belgium 12 Denmark 9 Germany 24 Greece 12 Spain 21 France 24 Ireland 9 Italy 24 Luxembourg 6 Netherlands 12 Portugal 12 United Kingdom 24

      The members of the Committee and an equal number of alternate members shall be appointed for four years by the Council acting unanimously on proposals from the respective Member States. Their term of office shall be renewable.

      The members of the Committee may not be bound by any mandatory instructions. They shall be completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the general interest of the Community.”

    • DaveM
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      I find it amusing that the pro-EHCR folk seem to think that by introducing a new Bill of Rights we are going to descend into some sort of medieval society. Which country was it that first introduced the notion of Human Rights? Remind me!!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      “A ban on income tax, VAT and national insurance increases for five years” – This is a totally valueless promise, what matter is overall tax levels. They can just increase all the countless other taxes. IPT, stamp duty, IHT, Fuel Duty, Alcohol, tighten the pension rules, reduce tax deductions …..

      Until they stop pissing money down the drain on HS2, quack energy, the EU and other endless drivel they will have to increase taxes.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Exactly so!

    • Richard1
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      There is to be the most tremendous campaign against the proposed Human Rights Bill orchestrated by the Human Rights industry, of which we’ve already caught a glimpse. This industry matches the green blob for influence and access and has already drafted in leftists, luvvies etc. I suggest Mr Gove takes his time, has a widespread consultation, sets out very clearly exactly how a British Bill of Rights would work – ie that there is no diminution of actual rights at all – and then puts this matter as a second question at the referendum. Only the clear decision of the people as a whole will silence the hyperbolic nonsense coming out of the left on this issue.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        Exactly lawyers (and court systems) are rather self perpetuating. Get one lawyer and they create the need for twenty more lawyers after only a week.

        Just why do we need 17 times more than Japan per head? Rather like government they are largely a parasitic overhead damaging productively.

        The courts endless make judgment that are mainly in the interest of lawyers very rarely in the interest of justice or the court users.

  5. agricola
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    The expressed desires of the Scottish people re independence take precedence over the ambitions of the SNP.

    As for the distribution of taxes to pay for education, the NHS etc., they should be the same per capita throughout the UK. Should the SNP or any other nationalist party wish to impose an extra levy via their Parliament /Assembly, then they should be free to do so. Their electorate can pronounce on such every five years.

    They should not have the freedom to borrow to pay for their programmes, because in a common currency it is the UK Treasury that would end up ultimately responsible for the debt.

    The SNP are a political party, they have no mandate on independence, membership of the EU, or on the currency they use. They tend to be loud mouthed chancers. Once they lose the support of the Scottish people they will be yesterday’s chip paper. Parties in politics come and go, just look at recent history.

  6. formula57
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    “So why don’t the SNP rail against EU budget rules in the way they do against “tory spending plans”?” – surely it cannot be because they are unprincipled opportunists?

    Giving people what they want is a good policy as very often it results in them getting all they deserve. Why not accompany Scottish full fiscal autonomy with local application of the EU 3% maximum permitted deficit rule? How long would free tuition, prescriptions, elderly care etc. survive then?

  7. DaveM
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    All valid points, John, and none that I’m going to argue with.

    However, once again it has descended into a discussion about Scotland. I’m fed up with people talking about Scotland. I want to hear people discussing England. Yorkshire has a similar population to Scotland, but who’s talking about Yorkshire? Old money Lancashire (ie including the 2 new made-up counties) has a similar population – who’s talking about them?

    To continue from yesterday, who’s the person who’s going to mention that for all the benefits Scotland may get from the EU, England picks up the tab both financially and non-financially? Who speaks for the people of Kent and Lincolnshire who bear the brunt of immigration? Who speaks for all the central English towns and cities where people can’t get doctor’s appointments or school places? No one, that’s who. EVEN/EVEL is nothing more than a veto at one stage. It’s totally negative and any legislation can still be voted down unless the whips force all English MPs to vote the same way.

    There’s a famous old article entitled “Who Will Die for Danzig?” The suggestion is that someone has to make a sacrifice to stop Hitler’s spread to the east. How about “Who Will Speak for England?” Anyone out there got the balls? We’ll see.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Basically, nobody is speaking for England and I can tell you that people living in Scotland are just as fed up hearing about Scotland as the rest of the country! Why can’t Cameron just get to grips with the fact that the referendum is over and Scotland voted to stay in the UK. We want to be treated the same too!! We are fed up with reading derogatory comments about Scotland when many of us didn’t and will never support the SNP. We need strong leadership from Westminster and I don’t see that happening.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Can the Union be stabilised ?

    I would have thought unlikely given that Scotland wants extra special treatment, as special it appears is not enough for them any more.

    Devolution was a mistake, but its happened, so we are where we are, so lets go the full hog and have the same terms of devolution for all, including England.

    Such a simple solution, that is until eventually Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland find themselves rather worse off financially being governed by those Socialist dreamers who think money grows on trees.
    Then they may all want the Union Back as it was before devolution.

    I see the EU is trying yet another stitch up on us via the back door, which quite honestly is par for the course for this organisation.

    Cameron and the British public need to face facts, whatever small deal we negotiate before the referendum, they will claw it all back through one means or another over the coming years, even if we vote to stay in on any new terms.
    The only real solution to our problems with the EU is to leave and be done with it.

    The simple fact is the EU cannot be trusted.

    Reply Strong points to argue in the referendum

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      The EU cannot be trusted and neither can LibLabCon on the issue. We are better off out, but we will not get out. The BBC, the EU, big business with vested EU interests and LibLabCon will see to that for sure.

      Reply It will be the voters who decide – why not woo them?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        I am in no real position to woo them. To me it was obvious at fifteen in 1975 that joining would be a big mistake. Just as it was obvious that Ted Heath types are a compete disaster for the Tories. The ration people were clearly on the no side (with Tony Benn too I admit).

        Logic and reason was on the no side and irrational emotion on the yes side. Vacuous emotion usually wins. The result was even two to one in favour. A biased (and dishonest, with (common market) inserted, and a ‘yes’ question then too.

        The BBC, the EU, big business, LibLabCon, the CBI and many with lots of tax payers cash to spend on propaganda will surely win the day to the huge cost of the UK and the EU member countries who might sensibly follow the UK.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          People are not really in a position to judge what is best. So if LibLabCon and the BBC/CBI ‘experts’ are telling then to stay in then they will I suspect.

          Just as most people seem to have fallen for the greencrap exaggeration religion (especially the young). This despite the fact that no one under 17 has even seen any global warming what so ever.

          All are in love with solar cells, wind farms and expensive, limited, electric cars yet none seem to even understand what a Kilowatt Hour is.

          • fedupsoutherner
            Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

            Lifelogic, you haver spoken more sense here than anything contained in the Queens speech. I despair at the state of politics and feel it will not improve even though the Lib dims have been dropped. You are right. We will get more taxes on other things and all the important things we thought would see change, won’t!! No wonder UKIP are picking up more support.

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    If we have five years of successful Tory government where the benefits can be seen and felt throughout all parts of the UK, then the SNP will find themselves in a much weaker position come the next general election.

    • CdBrux
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Well said. Time to show that a free market, choice based approach can work for all and not just the south east. People in the Midlands seemed to share this understanding in the election, now it’s important to show that compassionate conservatism can win the day and make life better for the vast majority. This can set the agenda for the next two decades if done well.

      To secure the next, even bigger, Tory majority requires gaining seats in the North West, North East, Wales and Scotland (i.e getting a significant % of the non nationalist votes) whilst keeping the Midlands, south and south west.

      It would also be nice if the UUP could ride of the back of that to displace the DUP in NI

  10. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The Scots have a massive democratic advantage over the English. Whereas it can be argued the Scottish people even if not voting for Independence have indicated they wish more powers for their part of the UK, people in northern England have never been so much as consulted on whether they wish “More power for the regions” .
    For example 2015 Sheffield Central Election Turnout= 57.4%. What proportion of these voters indicated in any way they wished more powers for the region? Answer: zero
    There is every reason to believe northern English voters who would reject more powers for a very small number of local politicians.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      In 2004 the Labour government, whose cabinet were predominantly Scottish, held a regional assembly referendum in the North East of England it was rejected by 77.9% a overwhelming NO to devolution. It was at this stage the Scottish had the most power over the whole of the UK and we’re still paying for it now.

      • Old Albion
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        The overwhelming ‘No’ was against regionalisation of England. We need an English Parliament to safeguard Englands affairs. Any ‘devolution’ down to counties, cities etc. Should be the remit of England, not the (dis)UK Westminster Gov.

  11. agricola
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The proposal to standardise corporation tax across the EU should catch the attention of the CBI, and perhaps dampen their enthusiasm for remaining a full member. CT is around 29/30 % in France/Germany, but only 20% in the UK. I cannot think of a better incentive for inward investment to the UK other than lowering our rate even further.

    • ian wragg
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Perhaps at the moment it doesn’t matter what the corporation tax is in France and Germany as they all probably claim Luxembourg as their domicile.
      What’s the betting this proposal comes to fruition and CMD signs up as it will be on QMV.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:55 am | Permalink

        I think they would have to be creative to avoid the need for unanimity.

    • matthu
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Of course, you may need to differentiate between the official Corporation tax rate and th effective rate …

  12. Bert Young
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    The SNP can argue all it wants but it does not mean “they get” . There is absolutely no reason why they should enjoy a more per capita benefit than anyone else in the Union ; they are part of an integrated tax and spend system and subject to its rules .

    The decision to provide regional aid of one sort or another is a government matter based on evidence that is put forward for consideration ; whether any assistance is provided to some places more than others , is a judgement made by delegated authorities who are subject to the law of the land .

    When the Regional Governments were created ( a big mistake ) there were restrictions on what they could and could not do . The SNP seem to think that they are outside of this restriction and can invoke legislation of their own ; the majority of the Scots still want to be in and governed by the Union , so let the matter rest there .

    If , as the result of the foolish promises made during the Scottish referendum , there are differences in the tax and spend system that penalise the rest of the Union , then it is only reasonable to defend the majority by creating equalising laws .

  13. Leslie Singleton
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    So the question is going to be Yes to remain in. What a big surprise. Why wasn’t it the same with the Scottish question? This is the sort of thing that was wholly to be expected, and was expected, viz that Cameron would in small stealthy ways rig the whole thing. Why should the EU question favour the status quo whereas the Scottish one favoured change. UKIP were and remain absolutely correct on this.

    Reply Do stop being so downbeat. Go out and help win the referendum for the way you want!

    • ian wragg
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      There’s nothing downbeat about pointing out the truth John. I see the Lords etc are attempting to delay/rewrite the referendum question. What about the Parliament Act. After all it has been used for much less important things.
      If Dave rigs the vote (which he will) it will be the end of your party.

      Reply Of course the Commons can use the Parliament Act if all else fails, but that does delay the legislation.

    • DaveM
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      But NO won in Scotland, Leslie – the semantics will not override the voting intents.

      If the question was:

      “Do you want to stay in the EU and we’ll charge you no membership fees, allow you to limit immigration, pick and choose what you want to do and when, but still retain a political link to Brussels?”

      My answer would still be NO, NO, NO!!!

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Dave–The bias is subliminal and subconscious: there is not the slightest doubt that the result is affected by which way round the question is. John is right and I am downbeat, not trusting Cameron one centimetre. 51/49 could so easily be converted to 49/51.

    • DaveM
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      To reply – thanks John, I too sense the kind of negativity which was apparent here prior to the GE. I’m just feeling less positive about the prospects of fairness for England.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      We don’t yet know for sure what question the government will propose in its Bill, let alone whether its proposal will pass without amendment.

      In the Wharton Private Members’ Bill:

      http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/europeanunionreferendum.html

      the prescribed question was:

      “Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union?”

      I’m not sure how much difference it will make if “be” is replaced by “remain”.

      In both cases the government would have the advantage that the answer it wants would be “Yes”, which is worth a few per cent more votes because people who are uncertain tend to prefer saying “Yes” rather than “No” to any question.

      And in both cases “Yes” would ostensibly be a vote for the status quo and against potentially disruptive change. Except of course in reality a vote to stay in the EU would not be a vote for the present status quo, in the sense that the EU is driven by the pursuit of “ever closer union” and what you will have in ten years’ time could be quite different from what you thought you were voting for.

      To borrow and adapt JR’s phraseology above, “How do we avoid devolution being a process rather than a settlement?”, the analogous problem is “How do we avoid EU membership being a process rather than a settlement?”; and there can be no solution to that problem while all of the EU member states are under a solemn treaty obligation to regard it as a process not a settlement, and have in effect told the EU institutions including the ECJ that this is what they want.

      Therefore I would be willing to accept:

      “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?”,

      which at least avoids any possible confusion about whether or not the UK is at present a member, provided that some explanatory words were added at the end to make it something like:

      “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union, with a binding treaty commitment to continue the process of “ever closer union” with the other member states?”.

      Reply The requirement to move to ever closer union may be removed for the UK

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply–Or you could even have a go at answering my question. I happen to believe that the bias is very significant. Why the difference between the two referenda?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Well is clearly does distort the justice of the referendum (to give a YES answer to one side and a NO to the other) this is very clear from research. It is a blatant form of bias which any honourable administration would not permit.

      The referendum needs to be seen to be fair, if they start off in this way it hardly bodes well. Not that I expected it to be fair for one minute.

      • turbo terrier
        Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        Fair? Funny word that.

        When has it ever been fair?

        It would appear that despite all the promises etc when push goes to shove the politicians will do what they perceive to be best for them.

        Subsidies for all the green crap. Watch this space, it will apply only to England and as has been the case all along it will be the 60 million odd in England that will pay for the totally outrageous and totally un thought out energy policy adopted by Scotland. Will it take any off of fuel debt and poverty or close one food bank? In your dreams!!!

        Why does CMD have a problem with the word NO ?

        All these so called Tories who in the first time in ages have a mandate and the seats to implement policies that we voted for then decide to bring the Government to heel over the European Human Rights Issue causing the Government to have to wait and further investigate and negotiate. When you sign up it is just that. If you don’t like the outcome of being voted into power then just sign on or ship out. For far too long have we played the merry go round with this issue. Green crap, Trident, social welfare, Europe and many more.

        The electorate want want they voted for .

        So to all those that are wavering PUT UP SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT OR SHUT UP AND RESIGN. The electorate are rapidly reaching the enough is enough stage.

    • John C.
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Don’t use Yes/No. They are weighted. Use In/Out or Stay/Leave. Less chance of muddle in the polling booth as well.

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    “Our union is above all a currency, benefits and tax union.”

    I don’t agree with that, JR; “above all” the Anglo-Scottish Union was and is a perpetual foreign affairs, and therefore military, union, which is why the first Article in the 1707 Treaty of Union was:

    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/heritage/articlesofunion.pdf

    “That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN; And that the Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint, and the Crosses of St Andrew and St George be conjoined, in such manner as Her Majesty shall think fit, and used in all Flags, Banners, Standards and Ensigns, both at Sea and Land.”

    One kingdom, one sovereign with the power to make treaties with foreign powers and declare war and peace, deploying unified armed forces raised across and funded by the whole kingdom, fighting under one flag, that of Great Britain.

    Unification of the coinage only came in at Article XVI, as far as I can see benefits didn’t come into it at all – presumably because there was little in the way of benefits in either kingdom beyond local relief of the poor – and Scotland was expressly allowed some tax exemptions and provision was made to compensate for increased taxes.

    Reply Yes, I agree it armed forces and foreign policy were always central and still are.

  15. JoolsB
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    If I were the Tory party, I would be more worried about whether England will accept the sop on offer. The stability of the union is down to one part of it only and it’s not Scotland, it’s whether England will continue to allow UK Governments of ALL colours, including to their shame this Tory one, to go on shafting them and treating them like fourth class citizens in a ‘union’ which favours everyone except them.

    Cameron promised English votes for English laws on the steps of Downing St. on the morning after the Scottish referendum, a sop in itself, but he couldn’t even keep that promise to the one part of his beloved union which he and the Tory party owe their very existence to – BIG mistake. The stability of the union is indeed at stake and it’s undoing will be the legacy of this Tory Government who did absolutely nothing to address the rotten deal England gets both politically and financially when it had the chance!

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and those of us living in Scotland who voted to stay in the UNION also feel let down by Cameron and the Tories as he is giving in too much to Sturgeon’s demands. We were hopeful a Tory government would be good for us all but it seems it is not to be.

  16. Iain Moore
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    A Bill for Scotland, a Bill for Wales, a Bill for Northern Ireland. Nothing for England, looks like Cameron is out to humiliate the England , the most deserving nation for a constitutional bill gets nothing.

    I suppose it serves us right for voting Conservative, for the Cameron Conservative party always mistreat its support.

    Reply The Queen’s speech stated that the government will meet its manifesto promise to England as well.

    • David Price
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      It is not a matter of “deserving”, it is an issue of just treatment of all countries in the union. The onus must be on the government to justify why they withhold equal rights from Engalnd.

  17. waramess
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Not too popular a view on this site but what on earth is the objection to giving the Scots full independance?

    Let them belong to the EU even if England detatches, let them decide on their currency and allow them to negotiate with those remaining in the union about how much joint defence they wish to subscribe to.

    Don’t guarantee their debts, don’t save their banks and, most importantly, don’t interfere in their internal affairs.

    England will not be the only country in Europe to have a joint border with another country; it will however be a far wealthier place without the need to redistribute its income to Scottish regions.

    This is what they want: embrace it.

    Once upon a time bigger was better, now smaller may be just be a lot nimbler.

    Reply Labour, Conservative UKIP and the Lib dems are pro union parties. They have just won a referendum together in Scotland for the union, so they are not about to offer independence to Scotland. There are, however, varying degrees of tolerance for Scottish separatism and varying views about how much self government to offer, so the position is not stable.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      People seem to be under the impression that Sturgeon speaks for all of Scotland SHE DOES NOT WHICH IS WHY MANY OF US VOTED AGAINST INDEPENDENCE. PLEASE DON’T TAR US ALL WITH THE SAME BRUSH.

    • John C.
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      J.R. Your first sentence tells us a lot. Were there any parties an English voter could choose that favour separation? No.
      There is really very little idea what the English think on this issue. I suspect there has been a steady drift away from the supporters of the Union, but I’m only guessing. Needless to say.

    • Chris S
      Posted May 27, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Reply To Reply

      I tend to agree with Waramess but I know that most of those within the Westminster bubble haven’t yet worked out that the genie is out of the bottle and Scotland is heading for independence, sooner or later.

      What I can’t understand is why both Labour and the Conservative parties fail to be honest and point out to the other countries of the UK that all three are dependent on the willingness of English taxpayers to subsidise their lifestyles.

      I also think Westminster fails to appreciate yet that the patience of the English taxpayer has been severely tested by Sturgeon and Salmond throughout the whole referendum campaign. This continued and increased through the General Election and has been made even worse by Plaid Cymru’s leader Leane Wood. Now we have parties in NI refusing to implement cuts in their budget which if allowed t stand would mean even larger subsidies from England.

      I believe that a majority of English taxpayers now regard the current situation as intolerable. Politicians in NI, Wales and Scotland are all pressing for an end to austerity and are constantly demanding increased spending, all of which would have to be paid for by English taxpayers !

      Devolution has to come with conditions attached. If the constituent parts of the Union want further responsibilities they cannot continue to expect there to be fiscal transfers between countries, especially when every transfer comes out of the pockets of English taxpayers.

      Irrespective of the consequences, it is surely time for us to deliver an ultimatum to the politicians of NI, Wales and especially Scotland :

      Put up or shut up.
      If they want to spend more money per head of population than is spent in England, that’s fine, they can have the necessary powers, but they must be told firmly that there will be no extra borrowing and they will need to raise taxes on their own citizens and pay for it themselves.

      We may not necessarily prefer it, but they must be made to realise that the 54 million citizens of England could survive and trade with the rest of the world perfectly well on our own.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:42 am | Permalink

      “England will not be the only country in Europe to have a joint border with another country”, or indeed the only country in the world as a whole; and many of them would be much happier if that was not the case.

      • waramess
        Posted May 28, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        One parties happiness is no reason for a union.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 28, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          It would be England that was unhappy if it once again had a land border with a foreign country with an unfriendly government.

    • waramess
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply:

      One day the politicians of all colours will learn that they are there to represent the views of the people and not to persuade the people to their own preferences.

      The Scottish referendum was a sordid abomination because it delivered what the politicians wanted and did not allow for an honest debate of the facts.

      Maybe the people of Scotland, presented with solid honest arguments would have voted in the same way; we shall never know.

      Certainly had they done so the issue of another referendum would not have surfaced.

  18. The Prangwizard
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I caught most I think of your intervention in the House, and I noted that the camera caught Mr Cameron at the end showing much attention to your words. It was also interesting to see how many members left the Chamber after you had finished speaking, clearly indicating there were many who wished to hear what you had to say, as indeed was I.

    Sadly, after that we had to listen to what seemed to be a hate-filled Emily Thornberry (her of the English flag and white van-man insult) who clearly attempted to blame your party and the English for the rise of the SNP, and it was interesting to hear her say she was partly Irish; worse still, the SNP, in the body of Alex Salmond with his distaste for England and all things English, are doing exactly what has been forecast, that is, to attempt to walk all over plans for EVEL; clearly they are hell-bent on using wrecking tactics, and to make parliament as unworkable as possible, in this case by raising a Point of Order to scupper any plan to amend Standing Orders. I trust you and your colleagues were expecting it and I did notice you were quick to point out it was in the Queen’s Speech. Nevertheless there seemed to much consternation about it.

    If he succeeds is that it for England and EVEL? These people are the enemies of England and must be seen as such, as indeed is Thornberry, and cannot be accommodated. Clearly they have brought their hatred with them.

    We must have a true English parliament, without it, and even with EVEL, you will probably have to face this sort of attack day in and day out. Will the Speaker challenge their behaviour if it continues? And when will he deliver his ruling on Salmond’s Point of Order?

    It may be hard to stomach for some but a complete break-up of the UK and an independent England is the only long-term solution.

  19. fedupsoutherner
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    According to the Telegraph today http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/queens-speech/11633005/Wind-farm-subsidy-ban-may-not-apply-in-Scotland.html

    It looks as though the Scottish people will end up with all the bloody wind farms in the UK after all since it seems Cameron will cave in to Queen Nics demands that Scotland keeps the subsidies. Remember, these are subsidies that the English have to pay too. Yet another time we in Scotland have been let down by the Tories. I did think that maybe after Cameron had successfully dropped the Lib Dims that we might actually get some engaging policies from him but yet again he is true to form. This is what we in Scotland who are passionate about our landscapes, wildlife, not to mention the people in fuel poverty were waiting for and yet again we are let down. I just hope that people like you John, can persuade Cameron not to give in to the SNP on this one otherwise you will be losing a lot more voters and support here.

    What did you say to me a week ago? Watch this space and wait for the Queen’s speech? Well I have and I have heard nothing to excite me. In fact quite the contrary. It has make me want to open the drinks cabinet and be a little extravagant.

    • stred
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Let’s hope they don’t ask Lord Smith, who Cameron appointed to report on devolution, to advise on the wind generation. He is chairman of SSE.

      One option would be to say, ok you can cover Scotland with turbines, but use the electricity and pay for the subsidies to generate and not generate in Scotland, as well as the back up to do the same. The project would stop as soon as someone calculated the bills.

      • stred
        Posted May 28, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        Fedup. I missed your similar comment above.

  20. E Justice
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Crumbs for England again .No Voice No first Minister No Parliament. England is depending on British MPs sitting in English seats who might or might not vote for EVEL because I bet it won’t be a landslide when it happens (if it happens)

  21. Jon
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    The parallel of the Indy referendum and the EU referendum is one of yes but different universes.

    Most political news in Scotland derives from Holyrood not Westminster. EU dictums Holyrood doesn’t like are blamed as “Westminster”. Holyrood MSP’s have no involvement in EU policy influence and so Labour, SNP, Lib Dems and the Green would lambaste Westminster for EU bad policy, there are no bad EU policies that are mentioned there for political reasons. That lower tier of politicians all want more power and it suits them to blame Westminster.

    The anti EU side has a tough task in Scotland. Their stance on the pound and the monarchy etc was all about division and anti Westminster and it worked for them. Not logical but in that parallel political universe that is Scotland the currency was positioned as anti Westminster as everything else is in Holyrood supported also by Labour and Lib Dems there.

    We are now talking about Full Fiscal Autonomy or another Indy referendum. That won’t be the case I’m sure with the EU referendum. There is a political fundamental difference in strategy, One comes from the stand point of empowered former counsellors and the other from Union MP’s. Gordon Brown messed up so much.

  22. Iain Gill
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I am sitting in a posh restaurant in mainland Europe, listening to rich Brits and foreigners slagging off the poor in UK for wanting vote on Europe, and their complaints about immigration. Had a few drinks, struggling to keep quiet. Any advice??

  23. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Referendum 2 – now in production, re-make of 1975 blockbuster with leading man Dave Cameron in role of Harold Wilson, with EU and EU sponsored supporting cast (e.g. BBC and CBI). Producers and writers are staying true to original script and anticipating similar audience reaction as in 1975. They are confident people will still be gullible to their disinformation and deceit, even after 40 years of witnessing their democratic sovereignty eroded.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      I’m not keen on all these remakes. It shows a lack of originality and creative spirit to merely remake something which has already been made perfectly well in the past, and modern remakes are often poor compared to the older productions. One could even say that they don’t make remakes like they used to …

  24. Pete
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps all the new snooping powers will enable your government to get some dirt on the SNP or other opponents Mr Redwood. Then the Scottish problem could fade away. That’s the way the surveillance state works isn’t it?
    We are certainly seeing that Mr Cameron and chums are following Washington’s lead on becoming a police state as well as being a lackey to their foreign policies. Is it a free democracy when anything you say or write is tracked and stored to be used against you if you annoy a bureaucrat enough?
    It really doesn’t matter whether we are run by Brussels or London or whether the Scots are independent when we all have take our orders from the same people, the ones that get to use all that information against us.

  25. Ken Moore
    Posted May 27, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    We are barely a month into the Conservative government and I’m already heartily fed up of hearing about the ‘One nation’ Conservatives. The term is a sop to those that like to portray a fantasy that recent Conservative administrations only governed in the interests of a narrow elite.

    England will NEVER be one nation – there will be those of a socialist mind that believe that there is a money tree called ‘the rich’ that can pay for everything. And there are the rest of us.Thankfully,for nowm there is more of the latter group but they are in decline just as they have been abandoned by a party that has the bare faced cheek to call itself ‘The Conservative Party’.

    To prove the point of how ‘inclusive’ the Conservatives want to be we will be force fed a wretched New Labour agenda on everything from public spending, marriage , to the appeasement of terrorists to an inclination to interfere in other people’s countries. What happened to the bit in the Queens speach about withdrawal from Blair’s proudest achievement – his signature on the human rights act.
    I don’t suppose the ‘heir to Blair’ was ever likely to scrap his masters work ?.
    What will be the next U-turn be ?…
    My view is the decision to stay IN the Eu has already been made in a cynically calculated maneuver. If Mr Cameron had the slightest doubt he would never have allowed the referendum to take place.

  26. DaveM
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Funny how most of the Scots I work with say the same thing.

  27. botogol
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I think you are going to have to abandon this ‘EVEN’ thing, it hasn’t caught on.

    Like it not : the issue is going to be known as EVEL

  28. bluedog
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    ‘Is there some complementary level of devolution to England which can make England think we now have a fairer settlement?’

    Of course, an English parliament within a federal UK. At that point the process ends and the settlement is complete. Through this measure SNP are presented with two options as their final destination; independence within the EU, and a future as a semi-autonomous region of the UK. Confronted as you say with the prospect of the loss of the pound and other old certainties, the Scottish electorate would seize the second option.

    EVEN or EVEL or whatever is a clever Parliamentarian’s transient fudge that will not pass the test of time if based on a change in Standing Orders. Standing Orders can be changed as required by the government of the day. While the under-lying idea has appeal, the public want symbolism and something tangible that says this is where the decisions are made. Only an English parliament can offer that symbolism, the Palace of Westminster being the obvious location. Thus a new federal parliament can be built as a great national project, creating both jobs and excitement in equal measure. As this writer has said before, the garden city of Liverpool is the obvious location for the new UK parliament, it’s so near Dublin.

    • Chris S
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      I agree.

      Changing Standing Orders is no substitute for full legislation.

      The future nightmare scenario of a Labour/SNP Coalition government could find it far easier to change Standing Orders back to gain control of England than they could ever pass legislation to cancel English devolution.

      In any case what is the point of having powers to just veto legislation that will effect England ? English MPs also need to be able to propose new laws for England without their being any chance of them subsequently being modified or completely neutered in the House Of Lords.

      In short, nothing less than full and equal devolution within a federal UK will be fair to all four home nations and have any chance to keep the Scots on board.

      If, as I hope, we vote to leave the EU, we all know that the Scots will demand Independence anyway.

      This raises the possibility that there might be a small overall majority in favour of staying In the EU but England Wales and NI will have voted to leave. Would it really be acceptable for Scotland alone to harness us irrevocably to the train crash that is the EU ?

      I would prefer there to be a second Scottish independence referendum on the same day as the EU vote so that, if Scotland votes to leave the UK, their votes will not prevent us leaving the EU.

      Reply Repeal of legislation is not much more difficult than changing Standing Orders for an incoming different government. However, listening to Labour, they are now on the move on England. They now see their spurning of England and English wishes was part of their problem in May 2015, and they say they do now accept the need for some English devolution. We should be able to build wider support for EVEN.
      Scotland cannot stop the UK leaving the EU if that is the majority wish of the whole UK.

  • 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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