The death of Britain?

In 1999 I published “The death of Britain?”. In  it I forecast that Labour’s large programme of constitutional change was misjudged, and would undermine the UK from within and from without. The current Parliament has to try to repair the damage. The modern Labour party is rapidly rethinking its stance  on Scottish devolution, the problem of England, high levels of migration and the relationship with the EU. They need to do so as they examine  the results of their handiwork in the electoral success of the SNP and the Conservatives, and UKIP’s  move into second place in some former safe Labour seats, challenging them on migration and identity issues.

I argued in the book that lop sided devolution would fuel Scottish nationalism and pull the country apart. I argued that massive transfers of power to the EU would undermine people’s trust in our democratic system as they found they could change MPs and governments but in many areas we could not change policy and outcome owing to EU laws . So it has proved.

I pointed out that Labour decided to offer most self government to Scotland, where nationalist sentiment was strongest. “Usually the granting of more and more powers for separate development and separate government within a once unified state leads inexorably to stronger nationalist movements and often to eventual separation”. “Over the next few years the new settlement of evolved government….will sorely test the powers of cohesion of the Union”.

I saw this movement as part of the European EU of the regions agenda, where the EU has always wanted to regionalise the UK and always wanted to split up England. The strain  was clearest when the EU is directly involved. “The White Paper (on devolution) offers a rosy prospect. It suggests the role of Scottish Ministers  and officials will be to support and advance the  single UK negotiating line (with the EU)which they played a part in developing…..The problem will arise if the Scottish Parliament has a different political balance from the Westminster one”. Labour legislated for a powerful Scottish Parliament in the belief that only they could win the elections to it!

Today we see that as feared greater devolution gave the SNP a  bigger platform to advance their cause. We find that large areas of life from borders through welfare to energy and business are now substantially controlled or influenced from the EU. Though we do not have the extreme dislocation  between election results  and policy that we see daily in the Eurozone, we now have considerable difficulties  as electing a new government may not fix all that we want fixed as the government is not  able to carry out the people’s wishes in some areas, owing to overriding EU power.

The problem of England, the problem of damaged democracy from excess EU control, and the problem of Scottish nationalism  were predictable results from Labour’s constitutional revolution. The 2015 Parliament has a mighty task to settle the kingdom and restore UK democracy. As Labour must now realise, the EU issue is not just some Conservative preoccupation. A future Labour government could find itself unable to pursue the policies it wanted under EU law. A future Labour government is also much less likely, all the time they lack a solution to Scottish nationalism on the one hand, and to the deep disillusion with the EU’s migration and welfare policies on the other. They lost heavily in Scotland because they were not left wing enough, and in England because they were too left wing and careless of England’s needs.

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  1. Mark W
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    I think Mr Portillo made a point that has often unnerved me regarding devolving power to regions within England. (This Week Thurs May 28th).

    The lack of enough people with ability. I don’t think this is arrogant at all. You only have to look at the ukip hierarchy to see an example. People with talent try to enter Westminster, it is the way of things or they are in business with no time for politics. The thought of what I’ve seen around the country in county, borough and district councils having more power is terrifying. They function because of the vast experience of their officers but give the elected representatives more power…..

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Their officers may have vast experience but so often they are not used for the interest of the public. They are so often used mainly in the interests of the officers and the staff of the state sector organisation.

      The politicians are often little better I agree, but they do have some incentive to ocassionally serve the interests of the public

      • Hope
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Sadly, despite JR’s previous wise words and books he and his colleagues stood in contrast to be elected and voted for a Tory party which has devolution of England in its manifesto. They want to carve up England for the EU project. Heseltine on manouvres with Osborne, Says it all. No EVEL as promised by Cameron last October, that is now a distant memory or another notch for broken promises by Cameron. You might as well add the HRA broken promise going by the newspaper reports.

        Police commissioners, mayors are all trying to be put in place for the regionalisation of England. The public rejected regionalisation and the turn out to vote for police commissioners was abysmal, less than 12 percent. Yet it still went ahead. Cameron wants a higher turn out to strike than to vote for these types of role!

        There is no interest at local level for local people. Very costly, no coherent logic to any plan. Self interest is prevalent. Any reason why we do not have unitary authorities across the country rather than the very expensive two tired system? No local priority clauses for the English homeless, no priority for school places, no priority for local people at local GP surgeries or local hospitals. Suppress local wages and lower standards of living culturally, socially, and financially. Come all ye poor EU people to the land of the free handouts.

        There is a at by phrase doing the rounds: don’t blame me I voted UKIP.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 3, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          Well voting UKIP did not do much, given the FPTP voting system it was always likely to be a wasted vote in nearly all constituencies.

          I suspect they will win again when electing MEPs, but MEP are powerless anyway. Hopefully we will be out of the EU before then but I rather doubt it.

          • Hope
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Wrong. The cartel were frightened about the GE outcome. UKIP is growing and has forced the referendum taking place. The MSM scared people about Sturgeon and smeared UKIP at every opportunity. What was Cameron’s meeting about in 2008 with BBC executives?

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      That is my view too, in general the further down the political scale you go the more incompetent and unsavoury the politicians become, those with genuine talent rise to the level of MPs leaving the dregs behind. I remember the big local government corruption cases of the 1970s, something never repeated at the national level in my lifetime.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        What is needed is more engineers, medical men, business people, mathematicians, physicists, sound economists and the like, people who have held down real jobs and far, far fewer career politicians, lawyers, PR people, dim arts graduates, fake “consultants” and Oxford PPEs.

        The rule is that anyone who aspires to be an MP/politician is usually totally unsuitable. A lottery (perhaps with a minimum IQ level) might well be a rather better selection system.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, you only have to look (if you dare !) at the paucity of talent within the Liebore establishments of our ‘great’ cities !

      Signed – Northern Socialists Subject !

  2. Old Albion
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    The questions remain; Who will give England equality and Democracy?
    Who will extract us from the EU ?
    David Cameron isn’t the answer.

    • yosarion
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      You Can’t have a Union within a Union, the sticking plaster that is devolution will fall off, and there will be a scab for some time and then that will fall aside, however the scar will remain forever.
      The four Nations have to have their own parliaments, and then I think most English would be happy within a reformed Europe.

    • John
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      The Conservatives are breaking England apart with every day that goes by. They are scared of a United England because it would make Westminster irrelevant.

  3. DaveM
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Sturgeon’s now saying there’ll be a backlash in Scotland if we leave the EU. I don’t believe that. Do you?

    • Douglas Carter
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      They’ve missed that boat. The SNP could have raised exactly the same objections over the Single Currency Referendum and that planned for Lisbon\Constitution – but did not do so (much to my surprise in fact – it was an obvious open goal to those seeking one). If you look at the Electoral Commission project with regard to an EU In-Out referendum, prior to the General Election a few weeks ago, the SNP had raised no such objections with the EC. The Scots were possessed of no tacit, implicit contract that the UK would be bound to remain within the EU at the time of that vote, nor did the UK Government at that time give any such assurance.

      The question will invite ‘the UK’ to vote – not England, Scotland, Wales, NI as individual separate identities. If ‘the UK electorate’ say ‘Out’ then they take Scotland with them. This referendum has been mooted for in excess of two years – when the Scots electorate agreed to remain in the UK, they did so in full advance knowledge that there could be an EU withdrawal. In Wales, Plaid Cymru acquired fewer votes even than UKIP, ruling them out, and the only major objection in NI has been from Sinn Fein, even though it has been their policy to oppose each and every new Treaty. They stridently opposed Lisbon, hence they stridently oppose the EU as it exists now. It’s solely opportunism they now raise the localist objection.

      There is of course the English flipside to that Scots objection. if England recorded a majority ‘Out’ vote, why should they accept that a small extremist minority of pro-EU campaigners – quite unrepresentative of the UK electorate as a whole – in one corner of the UK should be able to veto that?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      No not really. The Scottish would be better outside the EU too.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Para left out ed

      I’ve read that the SNP intends to table an amendment to the government’s Bill for the referendum to ensure that the UK could not leave the EU unless there had been majority support for that in Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as in England. In a sense they are rather jumping the gun on this, given that the Bill as introduced doesn’t actually prescribe any course of action in the event of a UK-wide vote in favour of leaving the EU; so it would have to be a whole new section in the Bill saying what would happen in the event of an Out vote, but that it could only happen if Sturgeon’s additional criterion was met.

      She claims that this would accord with a new federal model for the UK, but that is not actually true insofar as the general rule of federations around the world is that the component parts of the federation do not each have the power to determine foreign relations. For example, in the USA it is the federal US Senate which has the power to approve or block treaties, and the state legislatures are not allowed any say. The only obvious exception to this rule is Belgium.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      It is her leverage to get a second independence referendum.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Yes, she wants another independence referendum but she also want shelter from the EU when they go bust.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Old Albion

      Sturgeon has the option if the rest of the UK vote for out, and the SNP do not like it, they could perhaps apply to join on Scotlands behalf after first becoming independent, and they can get the Euro at the same time.

      Perhaps then they may realise that they will then be ruled by Brussels and not Westminster, something else for them to complain about.

      Perhaps they should learn you cannot be independent and also be a member of the EU.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, and certainly not keeping the pound as they absurdly suggested last time!

      • Bob
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        It’s a contradiction they seem reluctant to address.
        Are their supporters unable to understand what independence is or more importantly, what the EU is?

        The mind boggles.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I am careful to read three Left Wing blogs. I can see little evidence that they have any interest in the EU. They also seem to have very little interest in the English question. Scotland hit them like a brick in the face. What motivates them is mythering about the poor and vulnerable and also about which midget is going to take up the reins. At the moment, it looks as if the Unions are going to fill the gap.
    Mr Redwood, are you honestly saying in your private meetings that Mr Cameron is going to get a fair deal out of Brussels? Do you really believe that he can free us from More Europe and becoming a region of the Federal EU?
    At the moment there is no coherent plan, total secrecy, no little triumphs and the press and media are not being kept in touch. Moving the monolith of Brussels ain’t going to work. And, I suspect, you know it don’t you?

    Reply I have always said I think it will be very difficult to achieve the kind of new relationship I want through these negotiations.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    You were quite right in you excellent book but totally ignored as usual.

    The results from Labour’s constitutional revolution were indeed entirely predictable.

    You say: They lost heavily in Scotland because they were not left wing enough, and in England because they were too left wing and careless of England’s needs.
    Well I am not so sure they were not left wing enough for Scotland. It was perhaps more that the Scottish had learned that the more independence they demanded, the more benefits, power and concessions they got. They saw this when Cameron and Labour panicked (when the independence referendum looked too close for comfort).

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      I see that the BBC is reporting that Sir David Attenborough is supporting the Global Apollo Programme to combat climate change. In the BBC’s usual green dream/rapture approach to the world.

      I am all in favour of cheap clean energy, although it seems quite clear now that the threat of catastrophic warming is hugely over exaggerated.

      What these people seem to have wrong is that rolling out duff technology with tax payer’s money, before it works or is economic, is bonkers. Save all this wasted money and spend it on R&D until they get something that actually works. The order is R&D/get it working economically & reliably/ then roll it out – surely this is obvious to anyone sensible?

      More advanced nuclear power is surely by far the most promising area for that research rather than PV, wind, energy storage or smart grids. The latter two are largely only needed due to the intermittent nature of the first two.

      Oh and Wind, Wave, Tidal and Solar are not in fact “renewable” so please get the basic science right.

      Do we really want to plaster half of cloudy England with fields & roofs of pointless PV cells and endless wind turbines? Most of UK electricity is needed in the dark winter months anyway.

      • Martyn G
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        LL, so far as I can see, the warming lobby has become an arm of governments in raising tax incomes. I see in the DT today that our green tax burden has doubled over the last 20 years and stands at a record £44.6 billion with the bill for renewable energy levies raised to £3 billion.
        A nice not so little earner for the government and one that no one seems to notice in their pay packets, which is of course an ideal way of plucking the goose without a lot noise.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          Indeed a way of diverting taxes into certain private pocket in the name of “saving the World”.

          • fedupsoutherner
            Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Yes, landowners become millionaires and the rest of us poor blighters get our homes devalued and our lives stuffed! So much for our retirement – our home is worth at least 30% less than it was so that’s our dreams gone out of the window and many others in the same boat. The name of the game is greed. Not love thy neighbour but stuff thy neighbour and much as the Scottish referendum has been divisive, this wind farm crap has done just the same splitting not only neighbours and friends but family too.

        • Pud
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          I have thought for a long time that if somehow the correct response to climate change was lowering taxes then the government (of any party) would be far less interested in it.

        • Hope
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

          LL, you are correct in your assertion about Scotland. The public sector spending per head is getting wider between England and Scotland. We pay more they get more. I think the full financial details of the vow should now be made public, as were not consulted or asked for our view. Four lowly regarded politicians agreed this Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and led by Brown. After all Cameron used to ridicule Brown even though he followed his policies including the Climate Change Act which remains in the heart of the Tory manifesto!

      • Michael Walzer
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Sorry, Lifelogic. You are the one who do not have your science right, nor your figures. Nuclear power might be a solution but it will take 10 to 15 years to get enough nuclear stations to power the UK. You can be sure that the nuclear energy companies will also ask for public money to “support” their programs.
        Gas, wind, solar are, whether you want it or not, much faster solutions to implement.

        If you really think that tidal, wind and solar are not renewable sources of energy, give proper scientific references for the “basic science”, instead of, as you do day after day after day, just being a negative commentator. Giving proper scientific references obviously means not the Telegraph, the Daily Mail or any newspaper for that matter, or fossil-fuel linked think tanks like the GWPF.

        And before you go again on the amount of public money spent on renewables, check the figures on how much money is being poured into the extractive energy companies, by the various states not asking them to clean up after the environmental mess they usually leave running their business. Unfortunately, MPs (whatever the countries) are certainly not the ones keen to keep them in check. Why should they care? Their myopic point of view rarely goes further than the next election.

        You might be too old to care much for the environment, but you might have grandchildren and they will be the ones to deal with the consequences of your obtuseness.

        • Richard1
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

          But Michael don’t you think Lifelogic has a point that it seems – based on the evidence to date – that the great global warming and catastrophic climate change scare has been a tad over-exaggerated? No doubt CO2 causes some warming. But if – as it seems based on the evidence to date – we have decades, perhaps centuries, longer than had been feared before we see any negative consequences, turning the world economy upside down by trying to stop the use of fossil fuels does seem a rather foolish policy.

          • Michael Walzer
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            The problem with LL is that he shoots from the hip, seemingly never even trying to source his comments from sources other than his favourite newspapers.

            As you say, there have been recent proper studies (Lewis & Crok, 2014, in particular) explaining why the sensitivity to increase of CO2 of the IPCC projections is very likely too high. But even this study only gives some additional time to adapt, it does not go towards anything condemning “green crap”.

            I also find amusing that the same person in two consecutive posts can ask for “more engineers, […], mathematicians, physicists …” and then appears to condemn anything advancing from the work of such people (Global Apollo, tidal, wind, solar).

            OK, nobody is exempt from contradictions.

      • Atlas
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Quote: Wind, Wave, Tidal and Solar are not in fact “renewable”

        … well I suppose so if you are used to working on geological & astronomical time-scales … but on the time-scale of politicians – the next election – I suppose they are “renewable”. They are certainly an excellent way of impoverishing us given their current cost over the current fossil fuels !

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Long lasting perhaps, but clearly not “renewable” in any way.

          Nuclear energy on earth is long lasting too, especially when we crack fusion.

        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          Well don’t worry, Sturgeon will make sure the rest of the UK continue to be impoverished if she gets her way over subsidies continuing in Scotland. They love the fact they are getting all the bribes in the form of community benefit and long to be able to sell their wind to England even though England are paying for it in the first place. Cameron wants local communities to have the last say on whether a wind farm should be given permission. This is not truly democratic because in an area like I live in there are several hamlets and small villages being surrounded by large wind farms. The local towns do not hear or see these turbines and get the bulk of the ‘community benefit’ (bribes) on offer so they all vote for it. Meanwhile, the people who suffer the most by having them erected as close as 900m are the minority so dont’ get a look in when the votes are counted. This is what is wrong with the system. I just hope Cameron has the guts to stand up to Sturgeon and tell her enough is enough. What is the point in erecting thousands more turbines (there are that many in the system still waiting a decision here) when the ones that are already up and running often have to be turned off if there is too much wind and the grid cannot take it or they are importing nuclear cheaper from France but paying more to wind farms to turn off!! All a load of stuff and nonsense.

      • Hefner
        Posted June 3, 2015 at 6:53 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic, maybe if you had taken the time to read the Global Apollo report (40 pages) before commenting, that would have prevented you making a fool of your precious self. You would have seen that only 0.02 % of GDP is being asked for and for RD&D. Just as you ask.

        • Hope
          Posted June 3, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          You managed it over free EU education. Only a click of button!

          • Hefner
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            Yes, indeed, only a click of button, which to me means that anybody producing such very strong statements as Lifelogic usually does should check the references. Don’t tell me you take everything in any of the newspapers or the BBC as unbiased news.

  6. Jerry
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    In short Mr Redwood, devolution was wrong, lopsided or not. It was only offered by Labour in 1997 to halt their political decline in Scotland (and to a lesser extent in Wales), without which they knew their chance of governing once again was slime.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Quite a successful policy then!! I particularly like your typo at the end – unintentionally accurate.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        @DaveM; It was indeed between 1997-2010, kept the right out of power for 13 years and not always being able to do what they wished for another five.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      @Jerry; Oh my, sorry about my typo at the end of the above.

      Also, what ever ones politics, such appalling news with regards Charles Kennedy this morning.

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Labour have always been pro-EU because the EU in general pursues socialist policies and so membership locks-in socialism even when Labour are not in power in UK. You say that the EU would prevent Labour from implementing some of their policies – which ones do you have in mind ? I can’t think of any beyond their flimsy pledge to reduce immigration which I don’t think they are serious about anyway. Maybe in the medium term with the rise of nationalist/populist parties across Europe the EU itself may become less socialist but as it seems to be run by civil servants and unelected placemen this seems unlikely too. In the USA Obama is following this strategy too signing-up USA to left-leading international bodies and treaties which will be hard to exit from. As an aside the EU reminds me a bit of FIFA, and like there plenty of countries and people seems to like things just the way they are.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Re “They [Labour] lost … in England because they were too left wing…”

      According to the Seminar on the 14th May by Nuffield College and broadcast on BBC Parliament Labour improved their vote in England by slightly more than the Conservatives. They also claimed their analysis shows that Labour would have done better by being more left wing.

      Reply Labour lost heavily in England. I think Conservatives have something like a 113 seat majority in England.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        Whoops – this is supposed to be a reply to the JR post, not specifically to Roy Grainger.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Re reply, I am simply reporting what Nuffield said, if wrong perhaps they would appreciate a correction.

        But note, I (and they) did not say “seats”; the claim was on the percentage increase in the votes cast. It stuck in my mind as being something of a surprise, but that is how I remember it.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        @Alan Wheatley; I’ve seen that Seminar, I think the expert was talking about the popular vote, and that were the Labour party is already strong they could have gained an increase in the popular vote by being more left wing (thus not loosing votes to the likes of the Greens), it doesn’t necessarily mean they would have won any greater number of seats though.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      No, Labour have not always been pro-EU, and famously Blair twice stood on a Labour manifesto which promised withdrawal from the EEC – first in 1982 in a by-election in Beaconsfield and again in 1983 in Sedgefield.

      It was only in the late 1980’s that the union barons, and the Labour party, came around to the view that “Europe is the only game in town”.

      When JR writes:

      “A future Labour government could find itself unable to pursue the policies it wanted under EU law.”

      I recall Lord Tebbit saying at a public meeting that this was one of the reasons for joining the EEC that Heath gave his colleagues, that it would tie the hands of any incoming Labour government; and that he, Lord Tebbit, did not agree that this approach was right because, as I roughly recall his words:

      “If the British people vote for socialism they should get socialism”.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      @Roy Grainger; “Labour have always been pro-EU because the EU in general pursues socialist policies”

      That would be why Wilson in the 1960s and ’70s had to deal with in-fighting within the Labour Cabinets when it came to the EEC, why in the 1983 GE manifesto there was a pledge of unilateral exit from the then EEC – or were you merely commenting on their position post the election of Mr Blair as leader in 1994 and his repositioning of the party?

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        I am aware that there has always been a hard-left section of the Labour party opposed to the EU, Bob Crow was a recent example. However from Wilson’s time onwards the majority of the Labour party has been in favour of the EU, as it is now.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          @Roy Grainger; The Labour party has only “had a love affair” for a little over 25 years with the EC/EU.

          As I recall even Kinnock, who as leader was hardly on the “hard-left”, whilst accepting the apparent will of the electors (in wanting to be within the then EEC/EU) he was still very wary of the EEC, this from the 1987 manifesto (my emphasis);

          Labour’s aim is to work constructively with our EEC partners to promote economic expansion and combat unemployment. However, we will stand up for British interests within the European Community and will seek to put an end to the abuses and scandals of the Common Agricultural Policy. We shall, like other member countries, reject EEC interference with our policy for national recovery and renewal.

          Many of Labours then policies would have flown in the face of existing and expected EEC treaties.

          It was only as Jacques Delors, increased the speed and berth of the march towards political union that the Labour party started to softened to it, helped by Delors speech to the TUC in 1988 and his promise to require governments to introduce pro-labour legislation, and then of course Blair’s leadership of the party.

    • Bill
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      @Roy Granger. Actually that is not true. People like Benn were anti-EU because they saw the Commission as anti-democratic.

      Of course, Benn was wrong on a whole range of issues but on this he seems to have been right.

  8. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    If instead of a complete Brexit, often favoured in this blog but in which case Scotland and Wales (and N. Ireland?) would clearly feel overruled by England, a new kind of EU membership can be forged just for the UK (e.g. no ever closer union for the UK) plus some reforms that count for all EU nations, that might be a better way forward.
    The eurosceptics should also not completely ignore the “balance of competences” now that these don’t suggest that all kinds of powers have to be returned to the national level. That has now been proven unnecessary (by yourselves!)

    • DaveM
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      “If instead of a complete Brexit, often favoured in this blog but in which case Scotland and Wales (and N. Ireland?) would clearly feel overruled by England”

      This is why the remainder of the time on this blog is spent arguing for some kind of federal UK – most English people don’t want to overrule the other 3 nations, (and in fact NI is normally on the side of England) but the PM, living in the 1850s, still thinks the Celtic nations are part of Greater England in a defunct and non-existent country called Britain.

      And as long as the UK remains part of the EU, any agreements, treaties, etc can be changed back to where they were and changed to whatever might happen in the future. That’s why OUT is the only option if the UK – or England – wants to remain an independent sovereign nation.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        @DaveM: If you are suggesting that the UK should leave the EU after which Scotland and Wales are free to rejoin the EU and England stays outside, do you think that can happen without considerable constitutional problems? You would be better served with a kind of half-membership that all the UK nations can compromise towards, thus a “special kind of EU membership”

        • DaveM
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think Wales and Scotland would vote to stay in.

        • David Price
          Posted June 3, 2015 at 4:55 am | Permalink

          Why do we need to be a member of the EU just to trade with it?

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink


      If you are suggesting being a member with only trade and co-operation I will be with you.
      But do remember with only trade and co-operation any membership fees would need to be at a massive discount.

      The cost of Social membership of a golf club is about 5% of full membership.

      You cannot play, but you can use all the other the facilities and buy drinks and meals at the same price as full members, unlike guests who pay a little more.

      The dress code of course applies to all who use the facilities.

      Thus social members help to subsidise the players a little, for without social members and their spending in the restaurants and bars, the players and full members fees would need to be higher.

      Thus a win – win for everybody.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        @alan jutson: If the UK just wants EFTA or EEA, the membership fees for those are already established. If it wants more than that (i.e. a seat at the table, more cooperation) the fee will of course be higher too. Even your golf friends would see the fairness of that.

        • alan jutson
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink


          I do not play golf myself, although our International charity of which I am a volunteer member, does use a golf club for our local meetings.

          Just thought it was a reasonably good comparison.

          Your are of course right, social members do not take part in rule making, they decide to accept the rules, or simply leave and go elsewhere where they do like the rules.

          Makes life so much more simple.

          Given the above, the golf club tries hard to accommodate our needs and requests, as we spend a reasonable sum at the bar and in the restaurant.
          Thus as social members (as some of us are) we only pay the full membership rate for room hire etc, etc.

          Same should apply to any sort of Club with members really, it is such a simple arrangement which suits both sides.

      • David Price
        Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:10 am | Permalink

        Why do we need to be a member for trade and cooperation, why does such an arrangement need to require us to give over some powers to an EU supranational body? Why can’t it be a intergovernmental treaty similar to other trading partners and blocks?

        We shouldn’t automatically move to EFTA/EAA, we should start by looking at the position afresh and deciding if EFTA/EAA is suitable now or whether a much simpler arrangement is fairer and more practical.

    • F.Cunctator
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      This reads like gobbledegook. There is no actual suggestion of anything concrete, just 5th form debate waffle. Usual Peter van Delusion. The devil’s in the detail, dear boy.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        @F.Cunctator: Am I flattered to make it to your “dear boy”!
        Of course the devil would be in the detail, hence negotiations, but you’d start out working from general to more specific and I doubt that all details are the suitable material for blogs. If you don’t first look at the very general requirements to agree among the various nations within the UK, you’re more likely to get into trouble even after a referendum.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      @PvL; You seem to want to create something that already exists, the EFTA, and many on here have suggested reducing the UK’s relationship with the EU to that of a EFTA member.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        @Jerry: I think that something closer than EFTA and EEA ought to be possible and that your government is seeking that. Otherwise why have these talks with Merkel, Hollande and many other government leaders?

      • acorn
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Some on this site don’t know their EFTA from their EEA, so the following should help the debate. .

        • acorn
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          Interesting day. My EU number cruncher mates are surmising, on flimsy evidence mind you, that as far as they can tell, the plan is, save Greece and the Euro, let UK go **** itself.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          @acorn; “Some on this site don’t know their EFTA from their EEA,”

          Indeed you don’t “acorn”! 😉

          I would have said EEA had I mean the EEA, the EFTA (1960) pre dates the EEA (1994). It was the EFTA that the UK was a member of [1] before accession to the EEC in 1973. Reducing our membership to that of the EEA would mean a lot closer intergeneration with the EU than many would wish – as its membership is intended to do, being a prelude full membership! 😮

          [1] we were one of the 7 founding members

          • acorn
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

            Sorry Jerry, I stuck the comment to the wrong reply button. I get your point, but I am not sure of the route back to EFTA? We joined the EC in 73, (EEC to EC to EU) and joined the EEA as a compulsory added extra of EU membership.

            I am unsure if we leave the EU that we automatically leave the EEA; and then apply to join EFTA again and participate in the couple of dozen free trade agreements that EFTA has outside of its EEA agreement with the EU.

            Or should we throw a six and start again from square one?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            As the UK and the other EU member states are Contracting Parties to the EEA Agreement in their own sovereign right it seems that we would still remain in the EEA if we left the EU, until such time as we left the EEA separately which would require 12 months’ notice under the Agreement.

      • David Price
        Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:13 am | Permalink

        EFTA/EAA are part of the supranational arrangement of the EU, the whole point of being independent of the EU is to not be part of their government and hand over powers to them.

        We should start by using WTO as the basis and negotiate a trading treaty, not start be giving the EU some powers back.

    • David Price
      Posted June 3, 2015 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      Nothing has been “proven” by the balance of competencies review, that is merely the opinion of some politicians with their own agenda. Voting to come out of the EU means “out” with all powers reverting to our democratically elected government.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      A Europe a la carte can be the only solution to the ‘European conundrum’.

    • Andy
      Posted June 3, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Problem is your Continental Europeans will not offer very much. Problem is we have two EU’s. You have the EuroZone where there is a need to integrate politically and fiscally just to make it work, and then you have the countries who are not in the EZ and the UK never will be. How can you make these two separate groups work ? After all the EZ will claim the right to impose their will on everyone else, which is what is starting to happen. This is a recipe for conflict and ranker.

  9. Richard1
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Labour are indeed in quite a pickle. We now see Mr Burnham, who has spent the last 5 years parroting one left wing platitude after another, pose as the friend of the entrepreneur and of business! Labour’s leadership candidates have dropped so many of their election policies that one wonders why they were prepared to stand as Labour front bench candidates at the election at all. They still haven’t got to the point of acknowledging that running one of the largest deficits in the OECD 15 years into a period of growth was a disaster for the UK. And they are miles away from acknowledging Labours role in contributing to the global financial crisis through the collapse of UK banks, and the shambles of the Brown bailout. (But no one is challenging them on that).

    When history books are written, the 13 years of Labour govt will surely be reckoned one of the very worst of the modern era. The Great Recession, the Iraq war and the ripping apart of the UK through Scottish separatism and EU federalism were their 3 great errors. (And there were many other sub-categories such as the sale of the gold and the bank bailout). Unless Labour completely reinvents itself, changes its name and drops all the Brown-Miliband socialism and socialists it’s difficult to see how they can achieve power again (Thank God!)

    Reply I challenged them again on the collapse of the banks in the Queens Speech debate

    • Matt
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I find that this wilful ignorance of the facts of the great recession is widespread among even the well read, left leaning general public. They still believe that the great recession, was down to an investment banking crisis caused by greedy and foolish capitalists in the US.
      Yes we’re talking about guardian readers, but also BBC watchers. If the BBC was anything like impartial on these matters they would have been exposed to the facts, but they haven’t been.

      • forthurst
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        “They still believe that the great recession, was down to an investment banking crisis caused by greedy and foolish capitalists in the US.”

        To suggest the two are wholely unconnected is to stretch the credibility of dispassionate observers. It does not have to be either or other than for those engaged in political point scoring; clearly, if the UK banks had been obliged to hold sufficient reserves, they more easily could have weathered the consequences of balance sheets otherwise replete with toxic assets of varied provenance acquired in search of unsustainable growth and undeserved bonuses.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        @Matt; Oh right, so the US sub-prime mortgage problems didn’t contribute to bad mortgages being packed up into certain types of derivatives (CDS) that eventually made then less than worthless?

        • David Price
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          Northern Rock didn’t fail because they trading sub-prime loans, packaged or otherwise. As I understand things they failed because their business model of funding long term loans through short term borrowing at viable rates failed.

          RBS failed for a different set of reasons, not least because it overpayed for other banks

          • Edward2
            Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

            Indeed David you are right.
            Thanks for reminding us that another myth surrounding the great Labour recession is false.
            Another is that it was a world recession
            Another is all banks were in trouble when many remained profitable throughout.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

            @David Price; @Edward2; Northern Rock did fail because of exposure to sub-prime mortgages.

            Also do feel free to explain how the UK’s Labour governments economic policy caused the Financial crisis in the USA and elsewhere?…

          • Edward2
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

            Nobody is saying the USA did not have a financial crisis with their two biggest mortgage providers and another major Wall Street institution failing.
            And no one can deny that this had a big effect on the UK.

            A reason for Northern Rock failing was as you say Jerry, its exposure to this sub prime crisis but it was overstreched and structurally weak to begin with.
            And as David says RBS had also over streched itself with some ill judged expansion and take overs, just at the wrong time.

            Most calamities have several causes which coincide to create a disaster and one can argue for ever using hindsight, to apportion blame for the financial crisis and the recession that followed, but Labour have to accept some blame.
            Some of their leadership candidates are slowly starting to voice that taboo having been in complete denial during the election.

          • David Price
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry According to the Economist, for example, Northern Rock failed in part because it funded it’s loans by borrowing on the wholesale market rather than through retail deposits. It also securitised it’s own debts, it was not a victim of the US securitised debts, it tried to copy what some American banks did and failed because it operated a fundementally weak business model.

            Your second paragraph suggests you are not really that interested in the facts or learning any lessons from the events of 2008 but more concerned with protecting the reputation of the Labour Party. Or, do you honestly believe that anyone is blaming Brown and co for the crash in the US?

          • Jerry
            Posted June 5, 2015 at 7:53 am | Permalink

            @David Price; “Your second paragraph suggests you are not really that interested in the facts or learning any lessons from the events of 2008”

            More filthy pots and pans on display, I’m more than happy to learn the lessons, I’m utterly disinterested in trying to make political capital out of them. Why, because many of the root causes span both left, right and centre politics.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        ………………and our good friends in the United States shipped a lot of the toxic rubbish over to us, bound up in neat packages with not so toxic rubbish. Yet when the Iron Chancellor, and later Prime Minister, Labour’s Gordon Brown, was told there was something wrong with the markets, he failed to take heed.

        I still harken back to Brown’s gold sell-off, and the people who actually benefitted from it to the tune of billions. It sure as hell wasn’t the British tax-payer, and by extension, all the poor people the Labour party is supposed to care for!

        It stinks to high heaven, yet it beggars belief that the Guardian and the BBC still refuse to recognise Labour’s failings and hold their hands up in condemnation. Instead, they prolong the Labour myth that nobody could have seen the crash coming.

        I suggest proven incompetence was the reason for Labour’s defeat at the recent General Election, and to get re-elected in future, would mean a total break with the failed policies of the past. Who then might renounce their tax and spend ideology and come forward to lead the Labour party?

        That would take the biggest U-turn in political history! Expect more of the same old Labour garbage from here on out.


        • Bob
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink


          “the BBC still refuse to recognise Labour’s failings”

          The BBC and the Labour Party support each other.

          Whether or not the Tories deal with the BBC problem will be an acid test for them (don’t hold your breath).

          • Jerry
            Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            @Bob; Even if the Tories do neuter the BBC it will not stop other media outlets from stating the facts, your hatred of paying the TVL fee blinds you to what other broadcasters (never mind the press and websites) are publishing. What will your next demand be, the closure of Ch4, or perhaps you will just go the whole hog and want blatant censorship of what you would prefer not broadcast/published?

          • Edward2
            Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            I think they should be left to carry on together Bob.
            The electorate seem to have realised their combined views lead to a reduced standard of living via higher taxes and higher chances of unemployment.

          • Bob
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink


            “your hatred of paying the TVL fee”

            I have no hatred of the TVL fee.
            but I do object to it being spent on mass brainwashing.

            If the Licence Fee were used to pay for long term care for the elderly, MRI scanners, proton beam facilities, guide dogs for the blind etc. etc. then I would happily pay the fee.

            I do not agree to finance the subversion of my country.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

            Bob “I do not agree to finance the subversion of my country.”

            One man’s political subversion is another’s truth, one man’s political truth is another’s subversion, the real truth lies some place between to two extremes. Funny how the political left and right (sometimes even the centre) so often complain that the BBC is biased against them citing the same content.

            Bias is not the real problem with the BBC (they are no worse or better than any of the other UK broadcasters), it’s the mind numbing dumbing down, for example, even if AGW was caused by man there is more to it than raising sea level and Poler bears stranded on ice flows etc. At one time the BBC would have examined the science behind the issues, now they just use PR sound-bites and ‘personalities’ in a docu-tainment style programme rather than allowing the science to lead the way as would have been the case 30-40 years ago.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:43 am | Permalink

            Propaganda is often presented in a dumbed down form Jerry.
            For two reasons.
            First you are trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator and secondly if you were to present an argument with full depth people would quickly realise the major flaws.

          • Bob
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

            Are you suggesting that “Question Time” and “Any Questions” panels and audiences are “balanced”? or that BBC presenters don’t soft pedal when interviewing lefties (and harangue their opponents)?
            Did you know that the corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty Champagne bottles after Labour’s victory in the ’97 GE?
            Did you ever hear a BBC presenter mis-pronounce the name of Tristram Hunt?
            Did you ever hear the off air discussion between the BBC’s Jim Naughtie and Neil Kinnock where Naughtie refers the the Labour Party as “we”?

            Do you remember Dan Hannan’s demolition of Gordon Brown which the BBC didn’t even mention until it went viral on YouTube and then only when their silence became embarrassingly obvious?

            Did you know that the BBC has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on lawyers suppressing the publication of the taxpayer funded Balen Report regarding BBC bias on reporting of the Israel/Palestine conflict?

            Lefties claiming that the BBC has a right wing bias would need to explain why is it only right wingers that ever call for reform of the BBC, and the left always support the status quo and increases to the TV Licence Fee.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Indeed you are so correct, as anyone who has watched Fox News will understand…

            @Bob; What ever, the left could have penned exactly the same comment as you did (with obvious changes).

          • Bob
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink


            “the left could have penned exactly the same comment as you did (with obvious changes)”

            Go on then.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          @Tad Davison; “Labour’s Gordon Brown, was told there was something wrong with the markets, he failed to take heed.”

          So who told him. Someone in the market must have known, yet the markets themselves refused to do anything, this after wanting “lite/self regulation”, cheered on by the Tory party.

          I guess someone had to be the fall guy though…

          • Edward2
            Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

            The markets are millions of individuals and commercial entities acting singly and randomly.
            They do not have a spokesperson.

          • Richard1
            Posted June 2, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

            Brown was repeatedly warned on excessive money supply growth, over leverage in the banking system, confused and inadequate regulation and running a large deficit during a boom. He can’t get away with it. Mr Brown was captain of the ship when it ran aground. It’s no good blaming the passengers for not shouting loud enough.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; @Richard1; Governments do not regulate day-to-day dealings in the markets, their regulators do, or company policies do, traders self-control do, so why didn’t any of that work? Are you really are suggesting that free market capitalism will always fail because of human greed, due to the fact that some will never know when to stop binging, thus we perhaps need a more pure Keynesian, if not an outright Socialist approach! Seems to me that some capitalists want it both ways, when all is good and dandy government interference is bad, when the wall changes colour you complain that there wasn’t enough government controls.

            Carry on finding fall guys and scapegoats if it makes you feel better within, for the rest of us we will carry on noting the historical facts…

          • Tad Davison
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink


            His advisors told him. Sir Stuart (now Lord) Rose, then the boss of M and S, is one such.

            I don’t doubt what you say about others, that’s a matter of record, but they hadn’t got stewardship of the economy at that time. Perhaps that’s telling us something about the suitability of any of them to run the economy.


          • Edward2
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

            But the agenda given to the regualators was set by Government Jerry.
            They conveyed that approach to the financial institutions.

            Regarding the free market approach, if Brown had not been so hasty there were banks ready to move in and buy up these failed banks.
            He only needed to get the Bank of England to quickly reassure depositors their money was safe but his instinct to nationalise got the better of him.
            And a determination that RBS would not fail.
            All hindsight and historical speculation of course but it has cost the State hundreds of billions and sent a message that Banks will always be bailed out when they fail again.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 3, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

            @Tad Davison; You seem to want it both ways, you don’t want government over regulation but then complain bitterly when the industry allows its self to over heat, had Gordon Brown intervened and there had not then been the problems from 2007 people like you would still be slagging him off but for being a control freak!

    • Richard1
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      Excellent I missed that. I started following this blog when you, John Redwood, were the only MP in Parliament (I think?) to raise immediate, coherent and rigorous objection to Brown’s bailout. The fact that it is now widely accepted in the UK and elsewhere that in any new bank solvency crisis there would NOT be a taxpayer bailout is vindication of the position which you took at that time. We need more MPs who have the intellectual capability and the confidence to challenge such ‘consensus’ policies when others are caught like rabbits in the headlights.

      Reply Thank you. Yes it was curious to win the next war,but for the establishment to go on with their equity purchase model for the war we were in at the time!

      • Jerry
        Posted June 3, 2015 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        @Richard1; @JR reply; It should be no surprise that inexplicable things are done when trying to save ones head -or at least stop a total run on the banks- if neither the front benches of government nor official opposition took any notice of the wise words coming from the back benches what chance of Mr & Mrs Pleb standing outside their bank wondering if their money was safer in that building or in the bedroom mattress or door listening.

        • Edward2
          Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:51 am | Permalink

          It certainly was an “inexplicable” course of action Brown took.

          Swift reassurances on the safety of “Mr and Mrs Plebs” deposits by the Government and the Bank of England would have calmed things.
          Followed by a swift takeover by any one of the many still successful banks of the few failed banks could then have then taken place.
          But its all history now.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; “Swift reassurances on the safety of “Mr and Mrs Plebs” deposits by the Government and the Bank of England would have calmed things.”

            But that was done, it did not work (in fact it made things worse, people didn’t believe it), hence the “inexplicable” course of action that followed, cheered on by the opposition front bench.

            “Followed by a swift takeover by any one of the many still successful banks of the few failed banks could then have then taken place.”

            You mean like the Lloyds-TSB takeover of HBOS?…

          • Edward2
            Posted June 4, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            It wasn’t tried very much or for very long Jerry
            Brown saw a few pensioners outside Northern Rock and quickly rushed away on his “save the world” tour.

            More like HSBC and Barclays plus many other cash rich world banks who were in the wings.
            But Brown never spoke to them.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 5, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; “It wasn’t tried very much or for very long”

            Time is very short when a run on the banks start, it’s a very thin dividing line between fear and blind panic.

            “More like HSBC and Barclays plus many other cash rich world banks who were in the wings.”

            Do keep up with more recent banking events, that put that period (2007-2010) into context…

          • Edward2
            Posted June 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps you can enlighten me with your superior knowledge Jerry..
            It is very difficult to keep up with you, as you are such an expert in so many areas.

  10. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Condolences to Mr Kennedy’s family . We have lost an honest political man.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      And indeed someone who showed his genuine personality and beliefs.

    • M Davis
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Hear! Hear! He was a very good man indeed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Well he was certainly right on Blair’s dreadfully counter productive wars and was amusing on occasions too.

  11. The PrangWizard
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Has the Speaker ruled on Alex Salmond’s attempt to wreck ‘English Votes….’ by challenging the proposal to change the Standing Orders of the House to enable it?

    • JoolsB
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      If only it were English votes for English laws that Salmond is challenging but it isn’t. Even English votes for English laws is too good for us English it seems even though Cameron promised it and said it should be delivered in tandem with more powers for Scotland. Well more powers for Scotland (& Wales & NI) is going full steam ahead but all that is now on offer for England is Hague’s watered down sop of a sop, i.e. English vetoes for English laws. Cameron has ratted on his promise of English votes for English laws made only months ago on the steps of Downing St., such disregard he has for us English. MPs with English seats will not have any powers to introduce or propose any laws which they think would be in England’s interest, they will only have the power to veto any proposed bills for England by a UK Parliament and as we all know the sheeples at Westminster vote along party lines not national lines. Insultingly, MPs with Scottish, Welsh & NI seats will still have the power to vote on them at various readings of the bill and as idiot Cameron has pledged to continue the Barnett Formula, who is to say what is an English only bill anyway?
      Yet again, England has been well and truly shafted!

  12. DaveM
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    “The problem of England, the problem of damaged democracy from excess EU control, and the problem of Scottish nationalism”

    The only “problem” I see in that sentence is the EU one – which I think will be removed when the UK votes to leave the EU and the French follow suit around 2021.

    The other two are “issues”, and issues which can easily be sorted out by sensible politicians (like our host) and senior, honourable civil servants sitting round a table, putting party and personal interests to one side, and coming up with a solution which will put our country/countries on the right track for the next few decades.

    If that doesn’t happen I predict a serious rise in English nationalism – and that WILL be a “problem”.

    Mr Redwood – I do not know much about parliamentary procedure; will you please explain briefly if the Hague proposals for an English veto (can’t call it EVEL because it’s not) will genuinely make any difference to the unfair way in which England is treated?

    • Jools B
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      It won’t make a blind bit of difference.It will not address the English Question, i.e. who governs England. So come 2020, if England decided to vote Tory again but a Labour or Labour/SNP Government was foist on England, Labour and the SNP would set the agenda for proposed legislation for England and the MPs with English seats would only have the power to veto any proposals at the third reading of a bill. As I’ve said above, MPs vote along party lines, not national lines. For example if the Scots or Welsh Parliament decided to lower their income tax rates by 5p. the MPs with English seats could not do likewise, they would have no power to propose likewise and would have to rely on a UK Government to propose likewise for England to which they could then either veto or accept.

      Nor will it address the West Lothian Question as MPs with Scottish, Welsh & NI seats will still be able to vote on ‘English only’ issues at the first and second readings of a bill.

      This is the thanks England gets from the Tories for putting them in power. Contempt and no interest in delivering fairness for England.

  13. MickN
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    But John isn’t this breaking up of England into regions the crusade that George Osborne appears to be on with his push for regional Mayors etc?

    • Bob
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink


      ” isn’t this breaking up of England into regions the crusade that George Osborne appears to be on with his push for regional Mayors etc?”

      Yes, it’s an EU objective, like all of their plans to be achieved by stealth if not readily accepted by the electorate.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      I kind of wonder if the push to devolving more power to regions and cities – call them what you will – is a pre-emptive move to rationalise the administration of England in line with Welsh devolution, with the expectation that in the fairly near future Scotland will be independent.

      • The Prangwizard
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        We have seen amalgamation of parts of the administration of Fire and Rescue Services across county boundaries ostensibly for ‘efficiency’. I haven’t checked yet but I do wonder if these counties are all within the EU ‘regional’ boundaries; if so then this is another example of the continuing destruction of England to meet EU demands.

    • stred
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      G.Osborne has said that he is not going to force the changes for Greater Manchester on them, but is not going to settle for second best. This seems a strange thing to say, when he has arranged for the various socialist councils to agree and put in place an unelected mayor, followed by an elected authority. They seem to be pleased by this opportunity for expansion, along with all the extras, such as new buildings, officials, transport (probably trams), control of police, much more taxpayers money in their hands, etc.

      Osborne’s statement is probably politico speak for ” I already have forced the change on Mancunians, without asking, so it is too late- and I am not changing anything. Besides which the EU has directed and we have to do what we are told. What are you going to do about it? Up yours.”

  14. James Matthews
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Your predictions (and those of many others) were essentially correct Mr Redwood. The task you set out for the present government though, is not one that can be accomplished even if David Cameron really has the stomach to try – something which I take leave to doubt. The UK is now so far down the road to dissolution that the only real choices remaining are English independence or English political and cultural extinction. At the moment it looks as though its going to be the latter,

  15. Bert Young
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid I agree with all the predictions in JR’s book. From the moment devolved regional governments were created , the Union was doomed . Nothing is happening now to stop this from Westminster ; it can only get worse .

    Influence from Brussels has been allowed to break up this country ; the shift in this power has driven a wedge into our control mechanism and led to the sort of reaction that now comes from Scotland . I cannot see a solution other than letting Scotland go its own way . Any attempt to re-centralise will be greeted by a co-ordinated response that cannot be effectively fenced off by any political wrangling .

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    JR: “A future Labour government could find itself unable to pursue the policies it wanted under EU law.”
    Do most Westminster politicians care? It wouldn’t seem so, as the majority are in thrall to the EU. Maybe they find it easier to be told what to do by an unelected foreign power or like to be able to use the EU as a convenient excuse for not being able to achieve something. How useful they must find it to go around proffering policies to a willing electorate in the full knowledge that they won’t be able to deliver but can blame someone else. Even the SNP, who I suggest should change their name to SEUP, can’t bear the thought of ‘independence’ without being subservient to the EU. You could be forgiven for thinking their definition of independence is solely based on their dislike of the English.

  17. janet burrows
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    If the EU was a large company which has been unable to publish any accounts for many years it would not be considered a good investment especially with its high entry fee? Can you provide a breakdown of our 15 billion payment in terms of a return.

  18. ian wragg
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    John, you mention the regionalisation of England by the EU. Yesterday we had Gideon here in the East Midlands saying a Metro Mayor must be appointed to devolve power to Notts, Derby and Leic. This is precisely as per the EU agenda despite residents of Notts voting overwhelmingly against elected Mayors. It seems the local politicians may throw a spanner in the works as it is seen as devaluing their positions.
    I suppose the answer is for the government to force through the changes to appease Brussels, just like SSM. funny what can be achieved when you want too.

  19. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Please tell me why you insist on using that weasel PR Janus-faced word migration instead of immigration which is what you mean (I think). To use such a word makes people feel insecure and puts doubt in people’s minds about what you really believe. You were dismissively labelled in the first letter in the Torygraph the other day as being “unpopular” and I haven’t seen anybody argue. I never know whether you are Left or Right wing these days. Another word I deprecate but which you often use is “equality”, which I think has no resonance with reality. You were once held up as the standard bearer of the Right. Yes I know Left and Right are pretty crappy terms but you do use them all the time.

    Reply My popularity or lack of it has just been tested in the General Election, so you can see the figures.

    • Hope
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      That does not answer or address what she says, the point she makes is that no one knows what you stand for. You write things here in stark contrast to what you stood for ie pro Climate Change Act, Devolution of England per the Tory manifesto. I suspect your voters were tribal in their voting pattern and were nationalistic about the threat of being governed by Strugeon, who actually only got 1.5 million votes. Hence why the pollsters got it wrong. I would like to think your voters read the Tory manifesto or your views on this site which are in contrast to them, but I doubt it.

      Reply Where my view differs from the party manifesto I make it clear here and in the leaflets and speeches available to constituents.Why do you find that simple concept so difficult to understand?

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Dear Hope–I realise that (by reason of the Identities) God is a woman these days and I take no offence but I personally am a He not a She. I am dreadfully Type A and there used to be a “Rule” or at least a way of remembering that said LeslIe relates to hIs and LeslEy to hEr.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply–Never had slightest doubt that you would be popular, especially in Wokingham, but it seems to me that you are forever and gratuitously shooting yourself in the foot over trivia, perhaps to try and broaden your support leftwards. I reckon this stops you doing better. Please understand that you would be back in the Cabinet if it were up to me.

      Reply I seek to represent all my constituents, not just those who most strongly agree with me. I also am trying to reach out to less Eurosceptic people as we need to win the referendum if there is no deal to restore Uk democracy.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        “If” there is not deal? You think there might be?

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Dear John–Representing all your constituents is very different from obfuscating and bending what you believe.

        Reply Indeed, and when do you allege I have bent what I believe?

        • forthurst
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          Newspeak is a living language; it’s lexicon is updated constantly to purge you and me of the ability to express impure thought; once a new euphemism has entered that language, such words and concepts that it replaced, become, de facto, ungood (non-pc). Remember, when these people are living in their own countries, supporters of evil dictators like Assad and Gadaffi, they are to be bombed by (foreign powers ed), but when they desperately try to enter the UK on the simple basis that they are less likely to bombed and beheaded if they take up residence (away from the ME ed), they are migrants.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          Reply to Reply–I allege that it is not possible “to reach out to less Eurosceptic people”, and, as it seems to me, to the Left in general without so doing. As I started off saying, your use of “migration” (which is literally for the birds) instead of “immigration”, which is the problem plain and simple, says it all. And True Blue Conservatives should not be waxing on about equality, which is ridiculous and does not work. These are just two examples of course.

    Posted June 2, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    The leadership of the SNP seems a political personification of a hapless Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian who instead of seizing The Bounty has instead opted to bundle his crew into a row boat gripping for dear life on to a duff sextant. Yeah the SNP are left-wing ok.

    With increasingly bitter gales toward Europe and a success in their own terms they could very well end up on the rocks of a Latvian beach where there is increasing more and more room for them to settle down grow up and behave themselves.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Surely one factor is that Scottish nationalism is not confined to the SNP but is rife within other parties, within the Scottish Labour party and (perhaps even more, but now much less importantly) within the Scottish Liberal Democrats, while even the Tories now have to make an effort to remember that they are supposed to be a Unionist party?

  22. James Matthews
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    A tangential issue, but one that I would really like to see addressed.

    Nicola Sturgeon says that Scotland should have a veto on Brexit. No, say the Unionists. Scotland voted to stay part of the UK and that is that. Fair enough, many might think.

    However, what of the other side of the coin? Suppose England votes to come out, but the UK votes to stay in, the balance being tipped by Scottish votes. Fair enough, the Unionists will maintain. That was the deal.

    Then look a little further forward. Suppose that, reassured that they have safely locked England into the EU, the Scots then vote for independence anyway, as many believe they will. Would the expressed wish of the majority of the English to leave the EU then be honoured? I won’t suspend respiration.

    Would we not do better to say to the SNP (and all Scots), no Scottish veto, but if a majority of Scots vote differently from a majority of the English we will take that as a vote for independence and proceed accordingly? Just a thought.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      She says that the “double majority” provisions would accord with a new federal model for the UK, but that would only be true if the model was Belgium.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      An excellent thought in my book James. This is a scenario I hadn’t thought about until now. I wonder what JR thinks about this issue? Nicola Sturgeon is going on about a second referendum again (yawn) and I have a feeling it won’t be long before they go for it and what you have said might very well happen.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Dear Fed Up–Personally I am not fussed about a second referendum. If such comes anytime soon I am confident that the answer would stay the same, simply because there is a solid majority for the UK–end of analysis . The Scots voted SNP primarily because they had developed contempt for the alternatives which is a different thing altogether and which I have a lot of sympathy with. And remember if there is a second referendum, either way it will be the last. I am certain the Scots would not wish to keep going round this block every year or so.

        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

          Many Scots certainly don’t want a second try and didn’t even want the first one. Nobody who voted to stay in the UK wants a second referendum because it’s a waste of time and money. What we would like to see is what Sturgeon is planning for Scotland and not so much waffling about what she wants from Westminster. It is surprising how many Scots have said to me that they are ashamed to be Scottish at this time. I can understand why. I feel for the majority who don’t want this but find themselves living in what is practically a one party state. There is no voice of reason and nobody to turn to because they are a closed shop.

    • turbo terrier
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink


      Living in dictatorship Scotland is not easy but it really does hiss me off when I hear Empress Nick telling the world that the Scots don’t want out of the EU, no nuclear submarines and the like.

      She is not speaking for the rank and file in Scotland indeed in a large circle of Scottish friends some who are openly SNP they too do not want to stay in Europe as the don’t just read the red tops and are not mesmerised by the party line. The true voice of Scotland is being stifled by fear of being seen against their policies.

      What other party at conference votes that nobody can publically voice opinions against their policies?

  23. turbo terrier
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    a new government may not fix all that we want fixed as the government is not able to carry out the people’s wishes in some areas, owing to overriding EU power.

    Very good entry John as usual. Regards to the above surely the people who wrote the manifesto know what and where the powers really lies.

    Have they never heard of the old manufacturing battle cry:-


    Some of us I am sure do have concerns to actually what will be delivered this term.

    I think that a lot of the concerns arise out of the signals being sent by CMD.

    Do we have a real plan? Do we have a plan at all? The one thing that damages commerce is uncertainity and there is plenty of that being generated especially by the Scottish members.

    Good manners and breeding dictate that when you enter someone elses house you abide by their house rules. I find it very strange when a protest party attended Holyrood the minute they applauded a speech they were shouted down to be quiet. Does that not indicate that a benchmark had been set to be followed?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      I too can remember attending a debate in Holyrood and we were told that under no circumstances should we clap at any time. The SNP MP’s know this is etiquette and yet chose to do otherwise in Westminster parliament. This surely shows us what they are all about. They talk about respect but respect has to be earned and they have not done that yet.

  24. Tad Davison
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Max Keiser is worth listening to today on RT (episode 765). He says what a lot of us have been thinking for a long time, and talks about something Maggie warned us about many years ago.


  25. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Interesting programme on BBC2 on Churchill this evening John.I am not sue whether you agree with many of the points made , but I find it enlightening.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Good programme – has been on before mind – twice in the last fortnight !

    • stred
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      It was interesting to see how the BBC line was that the people wanted a new progressive government, with new housing and the NHS etc, to be provided by the state, which would nationalise industry and transport. The fact that it went badly wrong and Labour was removed was not mentioned. My parents said they would never understand why they voted Churchill out and were disillusioned by they end of the post war government. The next conservative government was able to build far more council housing as large areas were available in damaged areas and planning restrictions were far easier.

  26. Robert Taggart
    Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    The Tories could do worse – for Blighty – if not for England…
    Set the Scottish, Welsh and Ulstern (?) Tories free – ‘THE’ Tory Party (England) could then become the English National Party – if only by default.
    An independent England has far less to fear than any independent Celtic country – as most of them wish to be ‘independent’ within the European Union !

  27. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    The Scot Nats say that they want more fiscal devolution but the reality is that they want more spending powers while continuing to finance their expenditure with English taxpayers’ money. If we want to cut them down to size, we need to reduce drastically the Barnett formula premium.

    Even allowing for the difficulties of a sparse population living in cold winters, there is no justification for a premium of more than 5% per capita for Scottish public expenditure over English. Only about 20% of the Scottish population lives outside the central belt, so a 5% average premium means a 25% premium for those people. That’s enough.

    If we reduce the Barnett formula premium to 5%, the gloss will come off the Holyrood government’s performance fairly quickly. Let’s just do it.

  • 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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