English and Scottish nationalism

There are cries today from the left in the press and media that by publishing a Manifesto for England the Conservatives are fuelling English nationalism and dividing the UK.

What nonsense.

All main parties publish Manifestos for Scotland – why don’t those same commentators and interviewers complain this fuels Scottish nationalism and splits the country? Maybe because it doesn’t.

It is also bizarre that Labour has spent most of the General Election just talking about the NHS in England, ignoring their old Scottish voting heartlands.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Indeed if the dreadful prospect of Miliband/SNP is still to be avoided then a fair deal for the English and some real economic vision are the key for these last two weeks. We are unlikely to get the latter from the lefty, wet & visionless Cameron alas.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Too true,you had better get ready for Mini-Marx and the Pictish Princess then….and since we have been getting a touch poetic over the past few days,here’s one for Cameron when he looks in the mirror over the next two weeks (it’s quite short so it should hold even his attention span):

      “Look in my face:my name is Might-Have-Been;I am also called No-More,Too-Late,Farewell”

      Dante Gabriel Rosetti

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink


      The # 1 issue with the vast majority of people is mass immigration.

      Scotland barely features.

    • William Gruff
      Posted April 28, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink


      … if the dreadful prospect of Miliband/SNP is still to be avoided …

      Stop being such a sissy and take the medicine. SNuLab is the best thing that can happen to England and the ‘United’ Kingdom.

      Here’s to independence for England.

  2. formula57
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Quite. And surely it cannot properly be said that the SNP by publishing its own manifesto is fuelling Scottish nationalism and dividing the UK – although that would be consistent with its stated aims of course. I see however that such document has been described as “the longest ransom note in history”.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 25, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      If the voters in England object to a ransom being paid then the 533 MPs they elect can stop it being paid. It’s as simple as that; 59 MPs cannot beat 533.

      • Ann Strong
        Posted April 27, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        The only problem with your theory is that the 533 MPs in English seats are British, not English, and they vote according to what the party whips tell them to do. A high percentage (way too high for my liking) of MPs with English seats were born and bred outside England, so they’re unlikely to care about England, just as I wouldn’t care all that much about the other nations inn this ‘Union’. If the 533 did vote as a national block, not only would England be better off, but the ‘Union’ would too.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 27, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          Then the English should wake up and start voting for candidates who do care about England.

          • William Gruff
            Posted April 28, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            Denis Cooper:

            Then the English should wake up and start voting for candidates who do care about England.

            You are objectively Scotch and you are a political naif.

        • William Gruff
          Posted April 28, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          Ann Strong:

          You’re wasting you time with Denis. He claims to be English yet, objectively (in the Orwellian sense), he’s Scotch.

          If he isn’t Scotch, he’s not terribly bright.

  3. Old Albion
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m just toying with the words?
    But, there is a Scottish manifesto a Welsh manifesto and a N.Irish manifesto.
    Now you are saying a manifesto for England. It’s not quite the same as ‘the English manifesto’ is it?

    As for the tripe being spouted by the media and political parties, suggesting English representation (in any form) is a danger to the ‘Union’ Where have these people been for the last seventeen years?
    Blair sowed the seeds of the ‘Unions’ end in 1998 by creating unbalanced devolution, first in Scotland, then later Wales and N.Ireland. He and Labour totally ignored England and the consequences of their actions upon England.
    The rise of the SNP can be attributed entirely to Blair’s decision. Creating a ‘Parliament in Scotland’ was certain to create nationalist feeling and so it has.
    Brown whinges and whines about preserving the ‘Union’ yet he was a senior figure in the party who began the process of ending it.

    JR, we need an English parliament. It is the only way any form of ‘Union’ can ever be maintained, albeit it would be a Federal ‘Union’
    Personally I don’t care if your party misses the boat on this, because I would be happy in an Independant England.

    • DaveM
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Once again, the assumption from all parties that everyone in England wants to preserve the Union. Many people are genuinely starting to think we’d be far better off out of it.

      Have your independence Scotland – and good luck!

      • libertarian
        Posted April 24, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        Dave M

        Totally agree, the English are never asked their views on the Union ( British or European) because the politicians are terrified of the answer.

        One day we may have democracy in this country but I won’t hold my breath

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Dave – Can you not see what’s happened ?

        The Eurofederalists have made us hate our own country, our own parliament, the Lords…

        We are breaking up our own country for them – to be regionalised and fed into the EU mincer.

        Home rule for England ?

        Not until we’ve left the EU.

        There are other issues for England. What happens to the cross of St George when Wales and N.Ireland goes the same way ?

        Will our troops be allowed to wear it on deployments in the middle east as they do the Union flag now ? How inflamatory would that be ? Will it – the symbol of the religious Crusader – be allowed as the flag of multicultural England ?

        • Ann Strong
          Posted April 27, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

          The EU federalists haven’t made me hate my own country, England, and they never will.

          As for the British government (let’s hope there will be an English government one day) deploying troops in the Middle East, why? HM forces should be used to defend UK territory, not to attack everywhere else.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Cameron has said this morning “let me make it very clear – I do not wish to see an English Parliament” He didn’t want to see Scotland leave the dis-United Kingdom either but at least he did them the courtesy of giving them yet another referendum, something denied to England. He’s made it very clear he’s not interested in anything even approaching fairness for England, otherwise we wouldn’t be offered the insulting sop of English vetoes for English laws and what’s the betting even that will be parked in the long grass asap.

      • Dean Parker
        Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Cameron’s also made it very clear that he doesn’t want to win the election, either. What kind of politician doesn’t want to win office? That’s the only reason why they enter that grubby profession.

        • William Gruff
          Posted April 28, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

          Dean Parker:

          He doesn’t want to win the election and he’s made clear that he doesn’t want to see an English Parliament and he said before the last general election that he doesn’t want to be Prime Minister of England.

          What’s he worrying about? He won’t win the election, nor will the party he leads, he won’t see an English Parliament and he will never be the prime minister of England.

          He should go to bed, cuddle SamCam and sleep soundly with his teddy under his pillow and etc ed.

          Here’s to a SNuLab coalition and independence for an England in which Cameron will be a four letter word.

    • yosarion
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      From an English point of view. As the great Billy Joel sang, We Didn’t start the Fire!

  4. alan jutson
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Yet again a simple explanation is all that is required:

    An English Parliament for English matters, as per the Welsh, the Scottish, and Northern Ireland, as that is fair and proper.

    Instead we have all of this complicated nonsense of regional areas, regional powerhouses, Unitary Authorities, Regional Mayors, and the like.

    Again a total PR failure.

    Please tell your leader:

    Simple explanations, simple explanations, simple explanations, simple explanations, simple explanations.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      I agree with Alan it is a complete an utter failure on behalf of the Conservative party.

      In a way if Labour and the SNP form an alliance and stick one to the English it might just rouse us out of our stupor. It should be remembered the MAJORITY of Scots wanted to stay in the Union, it’s OK to be proud of your nation but want to be part of a bigger group to our Island’s benefit. I quite admire the SNPs nationalistic politicians wanting a good deal for their own citizens better than everyone else in the Nation, who is presenting this as an option for the English? I’m watching adverts in Cheshire for Plaid Cymru they’re so childlike and silly they make me chuckle but why are they wasting money on English TV stations do people get votes in Wales if they live in England? In fact I’ve seen more of these adverts come to think about it than any other party.
      I know people with two voting cards at different addresses, how is this happening? This election is going to be a real farce.

      • John C.
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        I can never understand the admiration for the SNP’s utterly selfish promotion of the Scots before all others. If the Conservatives declared their intention of representing the opulent middle class at the expense of everyone else, or if Labour openly boasted of promoting the expectations of immigrants or the workshy or any other group, they would be derided for their narrow sectarian approach. But Sturgeon and co.- well, they’re apparently plucky fighters, openly aiming to squeeze the English for all they’re worth. Seems contemptible to me.

        • Ann Strong
          Posted April 27, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          I’d give my right arm for an English version of the SNP, trying to grab as much as possible for England. If such ‘selfishness’, as our neighbours would describe it, were to threaten the ‘Union’, so what? There’s no ‘Union dividend’ for the English people.

          • John C.
            Posted April 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

            Yes, agreed, but imagine for example Ukip taking on a similar role. The abuse and hatred and vilification! But the Scots- oh, that’s O.K., they’re just sticking up for themselves.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      You won’t get simple explanations from the Cameron Conservatives , their answer to the West Lothian Question makes Heath Robinson look like the art of the minimalist . Truss on the Today program trying to explain this Parliamentary maze the Cameron Conservatives want to put in place completely lost me, second reading, third reading something with an English voting block at some point , completely lost me.

    • REPay
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Agreed that there has been a failure of communication. People have forgotten how close to the edge we were and what a truly great achievement the relative strength of our economy is and the rebalancing to the private sector is of real significance.

      The size of the deficit shows we really can’t go back to a time where the state consumes more and more of what is likely to be a shrinking pie under the unreformed Left.

      • John C.
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        You say “can’t”. Perhaps you had better rephrase it as “shouldn’t”. Alas, I suspect we (the British) will on the whole elect parties which prefer to return to policies which have not only recently failed, but have consistently, for decades in this and other lands, failed dismally.
        Maybe we now deserve no better. We have been softened through “education”, media propaganda, and pampering of the State, to look upon Government as a universal Mother which will look after us, direct us, control us and give us a little pocket money. That’s the way we’ve been drifting ever since DORA in the Great War, and now the protests against it are becoming ever more feeble and stifled.

  5. Know-Dice
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    We are there already, with devolution especially where one nation (England) is getting a substantially different deal to the other nations what would be expected?

    Just sit in the corner and be quiet?

    I didn’t want an English Parliament mainly for reasons of extra layers of bureaucracy and most importantly cost. But my view is changing and England deserves the same as the other nations that currently make up the UK.

    • William Gruff
      Posted April 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink


      … mainly for reasons of extra layers of bureaucracy and most importantly cost …

      What extra layers of bureaucracy, what extra cost?

  6. Ian wragg
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    So why are you so determined to Balkanise England with devolved cities etc. The BBC couldn’t bring itself to say England yesterday
    What happens to the Barnet formula if we set our own tax rates.
    If Scotland cancels APD do we have to make up the shortfall

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink


      “do we have to make up the shortfall”

      Exactly my thoughts, and that is why Scottish Mp’s still want to vote on matters in England.

      Not only do they want their cake and eat it, they want us to pay for the ingredients as well.

      • JoolsB
        Posted April 24, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        How else would they fill their days if they couldn’t meddle in English only business. Most of their workload is done for them by 129 MSPs at Holyrod and 40 AMs at Cardiff. 117 Scots, Welsh & NI part-time MPs drawing a full time salary and pension, not to mention expenses

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 25, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          We’ve been through this before and we know it isn’t true.

          • William Gruff
            Posted April 28, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            Denis Cooper:

            What isn’t true Denis?

  7. Iain Moore
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Indeed it is nonsense , a line the BBC wants to give credit to by parroting it without seeking to challenge the absurdity of it. For them to come up with this line says nothing about Englishness, but everything about the anti English prejudice of the left.

  8. Bert Young
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    It is sad but inevitable that an “English Manifesto” emerged . There is no doubt that the utterings of that woman Sturgeon and the support it seems she is getting in Scotland has finally stirred the pot . Frankly this should have happened before the end of the last Parliament .
    Scotland has much to lose economically by supporting the SNP ; hopefully it is not too late for the mood there to change .
    It is interesting that Cameron has pledged to bring about the EVEL change at the time of a budget ; if it happens the Barnett formula and the extra benefits the Scots receive ought to be a thing of the past .

    • William Gruff
      Posted April 28, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Bert Young:

      … hopefully it is not too late for the mood there to change .

      Hopefully it is. England needs a SNuLab coalition much more than Scotland.

      Here’s to independence for England.

  9. JoolsB
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Why is this being dressed as English votes for English laws when it is anything but? The public are being deceived. Cameron PROMISED English votes for English laws, a sop in itself but a start. He has broken that promise.

    What is being proposed is a watered down version of the sop – English vetoes for English laws. MPs with English seats would not be able to propose legislation in the interests of England, they would only be able to veto any legislation proposals made by Labour and the SNP and one thing is sure, as night follows day, MPs vote along party lines, not national lines which means Labour MPs with English seats would not vote against their party no matter how much a policy discriminated against England and their constituents. If the Scots Parliament lowered income tax or corporation tax, MPs with English seats would not be able to propose the same, they could only hope Labour and the SNP propose the same rates for England and we know that would never happen.

    Also, what constitutes an English only issue when your leader has pledged to continue the skewed Barnett formula? Surely as long as there are Barnett consequentials, Labour and the SNP will insist there is no such thing as English only issues.

    Last and most important, English vetoes for English laws nor English votes for English laws will stop England having a government it didn’t vote for foist on it against it’s will. Scotland, Wales & NI get their own government that they vote for and England also gets the government they vote for and the only way that will change is when England gets it’s English Parliament. Anything less than that is not equality for England and certainly not democracy!

    • stred
      Posted April 25, 2015 at 5:44 am | Permalink

      It isn’t EVEL, but English Vetoes for UK Laws or , where these laws may be made by socialist MPs from England , Scotland and Wales, voted in by approx 34+4+2=40% of the population. However, non socialist English MPs are voted for by 34+ 13= 43%+ the non socialist NI vote.

      We will have a socialist government of the UK, with increased spending and no limit on what they call investment, but paid for out of tax and borrowing. In other words more Scots/Brown style idiocy inflicted on an English majority, all under a system cobbled together by a PM with Scots blood and a resigning minister, given the job of undermining the wishes of English MPs.

      The regionalisation of England is against the wishes of the local populations, expressed in referenda, and presumably to fulfill the policy of the EU. Why else would this suddenly become policy at the end of a parliament, out of the blue and with no mandate? Your leadership is not to be trusted and the best hope is that you will frighten enough Ukippers to vote tactically and allow a minority government backed by the DUP and UKIP, then get the knives out and find someone else that is trustworthy as soon as possible.

  10. Atlas
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink


    Reading the spin in the newspapers over the last couple of weeks I fear that Cameron, for short term gain (ie saving his own political skin) is just stoking up the fires that will result in an Independent Scotland, moreover under a bad cloud.

    I agree with English only votes on English matters, but demonising the Scots is not a recipe for harmoneous living. If I were a Scot I would be taking great umbrage at Cameron’s mode of operation.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 25, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Comment missed for moderation here, JR, and I would say a particularly relevant comment in view of current press reports that if he doesn’t win an overall majority Cameron will be induced to resign and Boris Johnson will be given a quick “coronation” as the new Tory leader.

  11. Max Dunbar
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Considering that it was the Left, Labour, who initiated the break-up of the UK in 1997 their hypocrisy is breathtaking. It was they who said that devolution would ‘kill nationalism stone dead’. What hubris.
    The SNP is a monster of their creation and, unlike Militant Tendency of the 1980s, there is nothing that they can do about it. Whilst the SNP is busy destroying one arm of the Labour Party in Scotland, the main body of this rotten institution is also under attack by the SNP in England. Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘rough wooing’ of Miliband can only harm his standing with English voters but if he wins enough votes to form a coalition or some other form of alliance with the SNP the Labour Party will never be forgotten or forgiven by their English constituency.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      “Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘rough wooing’ of Miliband can only harm his standing with English voters but if he wins enough votes to form a coalition or some other form of alliance with the SNP the Labour Party will never be forgotten or forgiven by their English constituency.”

      Actually I think that Nicola Sturgeon’s new-found popularity in England is more likely to help Labour win seats in England, as the nearest available equivalent to the SNP in terms of wanting to end “austerity”.

      However I agree with the last part, that if Miliband agreed to any kind of pact with the SNP then that would damage Labour in England – in fact in Scotland, and in Wales, as well – and that is why he would not do it, as he has said.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      The SNP is as much a monster of the Tory party’s creation as Labour’s. In the 1955 general election the Conservatives and Unionists not only won more than half of the seats in Scotland, they won more than half of the votes, but over the next two decades they threw away half of that strong support, and they have never recovered from that:


      That was when the first referendum on a devolved Scottish assembly was held, and it would have been approved 51.6% to 48.4% except that at 63.7% the total turnover was not high enough for the “yes” vote to get above the prescribed 40% of the registered electorate.

  12. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The total collapse of the Labour vote in Scotland is really the most notable feature of this election, it mirrors the rise of other nationalist/anti-austerity smaller parties throughout the EU, it is far more significant than the rise of UKIP in England which is hamstrung by FPTP voting.

  13. eeyore
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Excellent news that a Conservative government would set an income tax rate for England. Let’s hope it’s keenly competitive with Scotland’s. If competition is a good thing between energy companies and supermarkets, why not between governments?

    Oh, and why is there only one Competition Authority?

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Will there be a separate income tax rate for SNP MPs? I suggest 99 pence in the pound.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Eeyore, it’s a con. Unless they win a majority and form the next government, the Conservatives and all the other UK MPs with English seats, will not be able to set tax rates for England or any other legislation which affects England only, that is not what Hague’s watered down version of EVEL is offering. UK MPs with English seats will only be able to veto any proposed policies for England put forward by a Labour/SNP Government. They will not be able to set the agenda. It will be for a Labour/SNP Gov to propose policies for England including income tax which UK MPs ‘representing’ English seats can then either accept of veto.

      • eeyore
        Posted April 24, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Well, I have a monkey on a Tory majority at 9-2 so I hope you’re wrong. The odds have lengthened, by the way. You can get 11-2 now. I guess the details of an English settlement will depend on what the Great British Public decides in 13 days’ time. If my monkey scampers home England might yet get a fair deal; if not, we’ll discover what vengeance Scotland seeks for Culloden.

  14. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    There will not one word of substantive answer from Labour to the Conservative proposal. Let’s ask Mr Salmond for a humorous observation.

  15. Liz
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    The left and media left like national parliaments in Wales and Scotland because they will be either Labour or the SNP which is even further to the left. For the same reason they opposea national parliament for England as it would be Conservative. They are not really interested in fairness or democracy – only power for the left.

    • Dean Parker
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      If we had an English parliament with the same voting system as Holyrood, the two biggest parties would be more or less equal in seats. Labour could always try making itself electable in England, or is that a bit too positive for their thinking?

      • William Gruff
        Posted April 28, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        Dean Parker:

        If we had an English parliament with the same voting system as Holyrood, the two biggest parties …

        Why not try thinking without parties? What if all MPs were genuinely independent and accountable only to their constituents?

  16. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    This is probably because we now have NHS England . I think even the dullest of us has sussed that Labour needs Scottish voters. In the words of Maya Angelou and I being the plural ‘England’ ” I shall rise”

  17. James Matthews
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Breath-taking double standard, especially as the Conservative plan, though welcome, is a quarter measure, but no one can possibly be surprised. We have come to expect this sort of reaction as routine.

  18. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I see that the Telegraph is running an article with the headline:

    “Where should you flee in the event of a Labour-SNP pact?”

    and citing the opinion of somebody called Katie Hopkins.

    There a few flaws with this article, to name but three:

    a) There will be no Labour-SNP pact. Despite the Tory party and its media mouthpieces brazenly continuing to deny the facts, Miliband has already unequivocally stated that there will be no Labour-SNP pact of any kind, and last night I saw Salmond on TV also unequivocally stating that there be no Labour-SNP pact of any kind. And there is no need to ascribe any noble motives to either of them to see why they are adopting this stance and actually mean it, because in both cases there would be major ructions within their parties and a loss of public support if they did enter into a pact.

    b) As far as economic and financial policies are concerned, there is little fear that the SNP would “pull Labour to the left”, as the Tories like to claim, when according to the IFS study reported yesterday there is actually little difference between their manifesto commitments in terms of their overall effects. Essentially the policies would be much the same whether all 59 MPs elected in Scotland were SNP or they were Labour.

    c) As far as defence policy, and in particular Trident, are concerned it is a matter of basic mathematical truth that 59 MPs elected in Scotland cannot outvote 591 MPs elected in the rest of the UK, of which 533 are elected in England. So the claim that the SNP could “hold the country to ransom” over this depends entirely on the assumption that the Tory MPs would be sufficiently partisan, and irresponsible, to vote against whatever a Labour government was proposing even if they agreed with it.

    It’s all a load of tosh, on a par with the previous ludicrous Tory scaremongering that changing from First Past The Post to the AV electoral system would hand the country over to fascists, with the then Tory party chairman Baroness Warsi writing in the Sun that “A vote for AV is a vote for BNP”.

    Then, four years ago during that referendum campaign, the “toxic” BNP was the bogeyman identified by the Tories to try to frighten more gullible people into voting the way that they wanted, with the uncritical, active, assistance of the Tory-supporting press; now for this general election campaign that role has been reassigned to the “toxic” SNP; unfortunately some people will fall for it, but hopefully not too many.

    • Bill
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      I think your analysis is wrong. It falls down on the elasticity of the word ‘pact’. There may be no formal and written document but there can be sufficiently solid and pragmatic cooperation to allow working arrangements which function in a pact-like way.

      Why would they not work together? Labour gets power back and can continue to change the face of the country by allowing the immigration of putative Labour voters and the hamstringing of the country by further concessions to the EU which become impossible to unpick and the SNP gets all the credit for another cartload of money from the hated English and, to cap it all, eventual independence – no doubt celebrated with fireworks in Edinburgh and the unveiling of a statue of Alex Salmond.

      As far as the IFS analysis is concerned, my understanding is that Labour promises are so vague as to be easily breakable or fudged. This is after all standard stuff: the first Blair government promised to keep to the spending plans of the Conservatives. Even the second government was relatively sensible. But after a third victory and the complete enthronement of a Scot, Gordon Brown, folly prevailed.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        When is a pact not a pact?

        In this context one answer could be: when there is no agreement made between the two parties under which they exchange pledges on how they will whip their MPs to vote on certain issues as they come up during the course of the Parliament. See, for example, the 2010 coalition agreement between the Tories and the LibDems as a formal, published agreement, but of course it could be kept secret if it did not actually require the two parties to openly form a government together.

        However contrary to the propaganda in certain newspapers Miliband has been clear that Labour would not make any such agreement with the SNP, overt or covert, while Salmond has also been clear that the SNP will decide how to vote on a day to day, vote by vote basis.

        Now of course you can just dismiss these public statements on the basis that both of them are proven liars; but on the other hand I’m pretty sure that Miliband in particular would not want to risk his party suffering anything like the cataclysmic loss of public support experienced by the LibDems after they went into coalition with the Tories, which is what could happen if he had to tell Labour voters in England, especially, that after all he had said he was going to make a pact with the SNP.

        The same reason why Tory strategists thought it a clever idea to conjure up the spectre of a Labour/SNP pact and exhibit it to voters in England is the very reason why Miliband would shy away from doing it.

        I’ve checked back to the original IFS statement:


        “All four parties have said they would reduce borrowing in the coming parliament. None has managed to be completely specific about how much they want to reduce borrowing, or exactly how they would do it. In analysing their policies we have had to make some assumptions about their precise aims based on their stated aspirations and policies.”


        “The differences between the Conservatives on the one hand, and Labour and the SNP on the other, are substantial.”


        “The SNP’s fiscal numbers imply the same reduction in borrowing over the
        next parliament as Labour, although the reduction in borrowing under their plans would be slower … Their stated plans do not necessarily match their antiausterity rhetoric.”

        I’ve no idea how you imagine the SNP extracting independence from the Labour party, when at most they would only have 59 MPs out of 650 and the overwhelming majority of the other 591 MPs would vote against it; similarly with the nuclear deterrent, SNP votes could only be decisive in bringing about its abolition if the Tory MPs also voted for its abolition, which we have been assured would not happen.

        With every day that passes this terrible spectre raised by the Tory party fades and diminishes, and if it has had any effect at all on public opinion that effect is evaporating, as it should.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      The Tory Party and the Tory press have disgusted me in this campaign.

      After nearly forty years I have ditched the Daily Mail.

      Both insult our intelligence.

      • Mitchel
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        I have to agree with you;the whipping up of hysteria,the paucity of critical analysis and the hyping of a non-existent Russian threat to our borders as reason not to change our current regime has been truly pathetic.It makes me wonder,given the growth of alternative media,what sort of future our press has.

    • bluedog
      Posted April 25, 2015 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Denis, you forget that deep within the Labour Left there was always sympathy for nuclear disarmament.

      Remember the CND marches? Moral Rearmament? And then the wimmin of Greenham Common? Where are they now if not older, greyer and still voting Labour in the hope that Miliband will reveal his inner-self as a Trident opponent. There may have been a private conversation, off the record, between Miliband and Sturgeon, in which Ed has expressed his personal views as being innately hostile to British nuclear weapons. Professionally and politically, Ed may accept the need for Trident, but only reluctantly. A conversation of this type may explain why Sturgeon seems to goad Miliband about Trident, recognising that in philosophical terms, her socialism and Ed’s are possibly very close.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Well, they can hope; but what matters is how the votes stack up in the Commons, and replacing 40 Labour and LibDem MPs by SNP MPs will not change that to provide a majority in favour of abolishing Trident.

  19. A different Simon
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Buckfastleigh Priory must have upped production since I was down there 20 years ago .

    So much for productivity . Look where it’s got us .

  20. Iain Moore
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    JR must be laughing to find the one issue the Conservatives have had ‘cut through ‘ with, that has given them a winning week , English constitutional issues , is the one issue the Cameron Conservatives haven’t wanted to touch with a barge pole lest it frighten away the metropolitan electorate they have spent five years trying to curry favour with.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s not constitutional.

      It’s the economics.

  21. ian
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink


    • Dean Parker
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Don’t be so sure. They’re so sneaky that they make Machiavelli look naïve and straightforward.

  22. Kenneth
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure that many people will get the ‘English votes’ message.

    The PM’s statement is being given lacklustre coverage by the BBC which prefers, yet again, to lead on its favourable coverage of the latest Labour press release.

    Still, as the BBC must comply with the election broadcasting law this will mean much better BBC coverage of the Conservatives from now on. They have quite a lot of ground to make up.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 25, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      It’s not just the BBC. I was disgusted yesterday morning that Sky News cut off Cameron and Hague after only a few minutes, just as Hague was about to tell us about his insulting version of EVEL, so they could show us Milipede’s foreign policy speech instead – in full!

  23. ian
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Mr Heseltine to be labour top man if they win the election for devolution of England cities and regions, so it win, win for Mr Heseltine.

  24. JoolsB
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink


    Cameron said today – “We do not support English nationalists, we do not want an English Parliament, we are the Conservative and Unionist Party through and through”

    Can we take it then that he doesn’t support the Scots Parliament and Welsh Assembly either and will be wanting to abolish them? Thought not!

  25. matthu
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    So Cameron claims that “English votes for English laws is about making our United Kingdom stronger” but then offers only an English veto for English laws?

    I call that another deliberate misrepresentation. A lie if you will (as long as you’re not in the House of Commons).

    (And, John, if you won’t allow that to be described as a lie, please explain why not.)

    Reply It is not a lie

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      It’s certainly being economical with the truth and deliberately misleading.

      • JoolsB
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Reply to reply to reply:

        It’s a lie, it’s an insult and yes, it’s deliberately misleading.

  26. Iain Moore
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    In this evenings 6 O’clock news the BBC prioritised the Scottish Greens manifesto launch over the Conservative launch of their English manifesto, and while reporting on the Scottish Greens manifesto launch there was no mention of this causing divisions or nationalism, where as they were all over the Conservatives making these claims for an English manifesto.

  27. David Price
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Where is the Conservative manifesto for England? Is it just the 1 1/2 minute video sequence where he says he doesn’t want an English Parliament or is it to be written down somewhere?

  28. Jon
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Every time a Labour or SNP politician complains about EVEN it comes across as a deep insult to the English. Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband or Jim Murphy saying if the English got the devolved powers that Scotland has would be undemocratic or nationalism relegates us in their eyes to second class and not worth anything to them.

    I can’t imagine the feeling isn’t similar in the English Labour heartlands as well. They are chasing after a handful of seats in Scotland and insulting where most of their seats are which is in England.

    That said, Nicola Sturgeon saying she will vote against EVEN siding with Labour on that is a worry. It plays into the SNP hands as building hatred between the two is good news for their end goal. How that pans out with Labour MP’s in England I don’t know, Would any of them look to vote for EVEN to keep their seat in places like the North East?

    Also found it comical with Jim Murphy complaining. He played the nationalist card when he got the leadership saying he isn’t a Unionist. Having back fired on him in his seat he has had to change his tune. He found out what Labour in Holyrood have experienced, they can’t out do anti UK, England and Westminster as well as the SNP.

  29. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    To claim that ‘English Votes….’ is any kind of solution is a false hope, if not a deceit, and we’ve had promises before. If those who claim to wish justice for England were honest to the issue they would be advocating a true English parliament, nothing less can be described as just.

    Why do they consider England to be so second rate that it is not deserving of what democratic nations have? Or perhaps do they think we are so special in the world that we can get by without one? That’s maybe part of the arrogance.

    It’s somewhat of a tragedy that those of us who wish it have no major party advocating it; my party is not a contender for government. It’s probably a case of voting Tory because they are all we have and something is better than nothing, for the time being. There is no hope with the others and UKIP is just another Unionist party which has given almost no attention to England in their manifesto. They are not a party campaigning for England; they may be mostly in England but that is their only qualification.

    However, to say that England should to be satisfied with some half-baked half-hearted administrative arrangement probably betrays a hidden agenda to preserve the Union at all costs, and the Conservative and Unionist party. Going for an English parliament would hasten the end of both. ‘English Votes….’ is just far enough not to get into real trouble and it does bring a delay.

    The ‘system’ will not work, it will be walked all over, as it has so far, and the Scots have said they will not co-operate, leading to all sorts of constitutional outrages which they will probably be allowed to get away with.

    Cameron and the whole Tory party are in truth opposed to England going its own way. It’s ok apparently for the Scots but not the English, but the end of the Union can only be delayed; it cannot be stopped.

    If a true English parliament leads to the end of the Union, so be it, it cannot come soon enough for me. The Union does nothing for me and I’m sick of being patronised by the British political and cultural Establishment.

  30. matthu
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Dear John

    I have just received an appeal for funds written on your behalf by the Chairman of Wokingham Conservatives.

    Amongst many claims made in the letter are the following:

    Only the Conservatives are offering reductions in income tax by raising the threshold for standard tax and for the 40% rate.

    [UKIP’s manifesto claim they will raise the threshold for standard tax, raise the threshold for paying 40% tax, introduce a new intermediate tax rate of 30% and also abolish inheritance tax. So this claim is not really true, is it?]

    The letter also claims that Only the Conservatives wish our relationship with the rest of the EU to be based primarily on a strong trading agreement for mutual prosperity.

    [The Conservatives think this can only be achieved by remaining within a political union. UKUP are in fact the party that wish our relationship with the rest of the EU to be based primarily on a strong trading agreement for mutual prosperity, so this claim is also untrue.]

    I wonder whether you had an opportunity to proof read the letter?

    All the best etc.

    Reply The letter was written before UKIP Manifesto finally came out. UKIP have made no statement I have heard about a L50,000 threshold. UKIP does not agree with our negotiate and then vote policy.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Always here to help – please find this from UKIP Manifesto:
      ‘Raise the personal allowance to at least £13,000.
      Raise the threshold for paying 40 per cent income tax to £55,000 and introduce a new intermediate tax rate of 30 per cent on incomes ranging between £43,500 and £55,000.’

      I don’t suppose your constituency chairman’s misleading begging letter was dated at the time of writing and why wait so long to send it out?

      Reply The letter was written in March and was meant to have been delivered some time ago, but delivery depends on volunteers who may have left a few until later. I am glad UKIP has decided to copy this Conservative policy as well! We announced our threshold raising tax policies well before the election began so people could hear it and think about it in good time

    • matthu
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      My message did not mention a specific threshold. But as you raise the matter, here is a direct quote from their manifesto: “Raise the threshold for paying 40 per cent income tax to £55,000 and introduce a new intermediate tax rate of 30 per cent on incomes ranging between £43,500 and £55,000.”

      So not a £50,000 threshold but £55,000 threshold.


      Reply A policy not announced when the letter was written.

    • Pud
      Posted April 26, 2015 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      Please correct me if I’m wrong, but from an admittedly quick search both the Conservative and UKIP manifestos came out on 15 April. If this is the case then to only describe one as “finally coming out” is hardly fair.

      Reply They were both too late to be available to me when I wrote any of my leaflets, or for the Chairman’s letter which was the issue before us.

  31. Know Dice
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    The proposals today are a complete fudge…the Conservative Party is badly letting down its English voters…

    But on a lighter note, I hear that Leanne Wood wants Welsh Votes for Welsh Laws…
    Oh dear, may be somebody should talk to her…

    • Dean Parker
      Posted April 24, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      If it were up to me, I’d just give the Welsh their independence, whether they want it or not. That way they can have Welsh votes on Welsh anything. And when they want to come back because they can’t survive without robbing the English taxpayer blind, just slam the door shut in their ungrateful faces.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        Yeah, and rebuild Offa’s Dyke to its original height.

        Why did Offa go to the trouble and expense of building it, anyway?

        For that matter, why did Edward I go to the trouble and expense of building all those castles and putting walls around towns?

        The total cost of all his fortifications in Wales has been estimated at six or ten times his annual income, update that to the present UK government income and it would be something like £4 trillion.

      • stred
        Posted April 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        This seems a bit mean to the Welsh. After all their national leader, given all the publicity and spouting her opinions all over, only has 12% support (ITN poll), while Ukip has 13% and Ukip+ Conservative have only 1% less than Labour. They haven’t burned any English holiday homes for years.

  32. bluedog
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    One can draw up a list of things about which the British people were never offered a chance to comment, and it’s a politically incorrect list that includes both capital punishment and same sex marriage. Let’s not go too far on the nature of post-war immigration either. Discussion of these topics is derided by the Left as medieval, homophobic and racist.

    But very high on the current list of untouchables is an English parliament. Once again the same voices who would have advocated everything that is PC above are influential, in this case opposing an English parliament. Once again one needs to ask, what are they afraid of? After nearly seventy years of cultural-Marxism, it should be recognised that Left has a value. Simply doing the opposite of what they urge is inevitably the right thing to do and electorally popular.

  33. William Gruff
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    You’re twenty years too late. Catch up Dr Redwood!

    Here’s to a SNulab British Soviet Socialist Monarchist Republic and independence for England.

  34. Monty
    Posted April 25, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    “There are cries today from the left in the press and media that by publishing a Manifesto for England the Conservatives are fuelling English nationalism and dividing the UK.”

    Well I can see their point, but it isn’t one they would choose to own up to themselves.

    The lefties have been busy for many years, importing as many non-western, non-European immigrants as they could. And granting them tenure under the rubric of “Britishness, just as British as you are, by virtue of standing here.” They even steered the instruments of the bureaucracy into rejection of the word “English”, so that the indigenous population were shoehorned into the same “British” default category on government forms, as the immigrant. But what is liable to happen, now that their other pet project, the division of Britain, is coming to fruition? Well the B word will count for nothing in terms of nationality. The estrangement of Scotland, will turn Britishness into a geographic detail unrelated to citizenship. Like the British Isles, not a determinant of nationality.
    Of course we could all still be citizens of the residual UK of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. But how should we describe ourselves, Yukers? Rukers? No way. We shall call ourselves English, Welsh, Manxmen, Cornishmen Ulstermen etc. Whatever we are, it belongs to us, by ancestry, by ethnicity, and by heritage.
    And there lies the problem. Because there are now millions of British passport holding citizens who have to be shoehorned into Englishness or Welshness , the next default, the next fallback status for whoever happens to be standing here, now, and whoever shows up next.
    You wouldn’t expect the Sinti, or the Druze, of the Bantus, or the Japanese to accept that.

    • Bob McMahon
      Posted April 25, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Manxmen? The Isle of Man has never been part of the ‘United’ Kingdom, or any other state in these islands.

  35. Iain Moore
    Posted April 25, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I see the BBC has at long last allowed a question about English devolution to slip through. On Any Questions with a panel of Scots hosted in Logie Coldstone in Aberdeenshire .

    Beyond belief,

  36. Chriss
    Posted April 25, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    IF the Conservatives are the largest party
    IF they can cobble together a coalition that can outvote Miliband and his Puppet Mistress
    IF Clegg retains his seat and takes his party into another coalition against Cable’s wishes
    IF the proposition makes it through coalition negotiations.

    We just might get to see this half baked English proposal in action.

    I’m not holding my breath !

  37. Javelin
    Posted April 25, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    It feels like you’re holding yourself to hostage not calling it English nationalism.

    There is nothing wrong with English nationalism as long as it’s legal and fair etc, etc.

    I feel the English politicians fear the English more than they fear anybody else.

  38. a-tracy
    Posted April 25, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t support an English Assembly but I do now. I’m beginning to think Westminster should be cut to half the MPs (seats simply doubled up as they should all be of an equal representation anyway). NHS, Education devolved and just the allocation of budget funds being done by the overruling UK cabinet.
    We already had a taste of a UK cabinet dominated by Scottish and Welsh MPs, how bigger a voice could the Scots have than a Scottish born PM in Blair: Chancellor Brown, Lord Irvine, Darling, Cook, Robertson, Clark, Dewar, Strang, Davies, Richard?
    John your party should have protected the English electorate by giving us an equal self determination on devolved issues, no more Scottish MPs voting for graduate taxes in the form of tuition fees but only for English born children in the Union! Your parties single biggest stab in the back of your voters.

  39. A different Simon
    Posted April 26, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Other than a low population density and tiny population , has Scotland got anything going for it ?

    • stred
      Posted April 26, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Scots in London, running England.

  40. agricola
    Posted April 28, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    An English Parliament, highly desirable though it is, in reality is an irrelevance. The EU’s destiny for England is that it be divided into regions and in effect becomes a piece of history.

    This is all to be done with the connivance of all three political parties in the UK. Short of a (complete cange in voting patterns? ed) I see little to divert the process of ultimate subjugation. Even if Cameron returns to power in May, the referendum after successful re-negotiation, will be a stitch up. Too much of our sovereignty has already disappeared into the EU maw for it ever to be extracted. The only way is out.

  • 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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