Everyone agrees the General election is no re run of the Scottish vote on independence. Even the SNP are making it clear they want a mandate to negotiate the best possible settlement for Scotland whilst still being within the UK. On this basis current polls show them attracting some voters who voted against Independence last autumn. It is unlikely Welsh nationalism will make much impact. The majority of Northern Irish MPs are likely to be elected as unionists.
This does not mean the issue of the future of the UK is off the agenda, or that the next Parliament makes little difference. The next Parliament, it is true, is bound by its predecessor to honour the promises made to Scotland by all three main Westminster parties. These promises are likely to be interpreted in a pro devolution direction by the new SNP MPs who will probably be elected in some strength and may be the third largest party. In contrast the next Parliament is not bound by its predecessor to solve the English problem. Mr Hague as Leader of the House would not put the matter of EVEN, English votes for English needs, to the vote, as Lib Dems said they would vote with Labour against the scheme. The new Parliament has a blank sheet to resolve the question of England.
Many in the SNP accept the justice of England’s case, but their party will doubtless bargain against it in any way they think will help their cause. The Lib Dems have some complex scheme based on votes in the UK Parliament for England calculated by some notional proportional representation, which is unlikely to get support from the two main parties in the Commons. Labour wants to fob England off with devolution to cities and maybe counties, having no answer to the question why can Scotland chose her own income tax rate but England cannot chose hers? Conservatives have a version of English votes for English issues, which is a start to tackling the problem of England.
The Lib Dems and Labour want to delay justice for England as well as denying it. They favour a long and detailed Constitutional Convention to examine devolution for England, whilst hurrying through more devolution for Scotland with no such consideration. Conservatives wish to press on with proposals for England, after years of examination and thought which has gone into them.
The future of our union will be very affected by what the next Parliament does. As it legislates for Scotland, it is vital it understands the mood in England. Only one party seems to understand the need to do something soon for England. There will be a big difference between a Conservative led government and a Labour led one on the question of England.