Tick Tock

s-CAMERON-CHRISTMAS-large640As Scottish Politics settles into another dreary round of on-line name calling, the action has most definitely moved to Westminster where the real politicians in the real parliament hang out. Why, on a phone in this morning on Radio Scotland, John Redwood, the single Tory MP probably most responsible for the adoption of English Votes for English Laws as a policy for the answering of the West Lothian Question, could only spare ten minutes before getting back to his “real” work..

And that, to me, summed up a good deal about out now officially unequal constitutional arrangements. By force of brute arithmetic, the 55 (or 56…who cares?) SNP MPs always were an irrelevance except in propping up a minority Labour Government (just like the Irish MPs did for the Liberals in 1906), and, in the short term of “getting that ghastly business with the Sweaties over with so that we can shut them up for bit” level, Redwood was quite right to bugger off from a programme that no one important ever listens to with a feeling of a job well done….leaving the field free to Pete Wishart and whatever diminishing gang of obsessive dingbats phone-in to this kind of thing….

In the medium term, however, let alone the LONG term…(which in political terms is a couple of years…or “a generation” if you prefer) surely even John Redwood must know that he’s backing a loser.

On the workings of EVEL itself, like the insanely complex version of when you do or do not pay for a plastic bag at the shops that has been introduced by the state-averse culture south of the border…(in Scotland we don’t mind nearly so much being told what to do…it has made us terribly USEFUL over the years) , the idea that the Speaker (as a strict neutral) decide on what is is or is not an English-only bill is cumbersome and unworkable…and invidious to the role and function of the Union parliament and its officers both in theory and in practice….and that the dysfunction of the Commons will be glaringly obvious to everyone, even John Redwood, by the next election. It just won’t work. It will be an antinomian nightmare…it will stoke the resentment it seeks to cure on all sides. It’s already doing it. Even the mention of Scotland as such, as a political unit., is poison to the system.

And that’s just by Christmas THIS year.

But by next Christmas, it may well become clear to the members of the political class of the once upon a time UK that now no MP elected by any constituency in any of the nations of our Happy Family OTHER than England..can ever be Prime Minister, or Chancellor, or Home or Foreign Secretary in a UK government…in fact, it’s hard to see what they can be…

They can’t possibly even be Speaker, can they? I mean…think about it.

Which means, for example, that even were Labour or the Tories to achieve the unlikely miracle of an electoral comeback in UK elections in Scotland in 2020, their best and their brightest couldn’t possibly get a senior job in the cabinet. The political upper class, as represented in Westminster, is now closed as a practical career path…and absorption into that class is the key mechanism by which the British Political Establishment has both refreshed itself and absorbed trouble makers (sometimes Celtic). Not any more.

The only destiny available to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is dissolution. And the only destiny for the lad or lass of pairts who are looking for a career in politics…is the SNP (a LOT more suits and sharp elbows at conference!) or emigration to the Money Pit.

Plus ca change, in some ways…perhaps. Power will be where power will be…and moths always head for the flame. But in a modest way, for good and Ill…there is now a Light in the North in a way there has never been before..which is probably why those of us moist interested in Scottish politics and society should act as if the constitutional question is actually already settled and get on with trying to fulfil all those promises we made to each other and everybody else about the Better Nation we are Already in the Early Days Of..

Because when we lost the vote on September 18th last year, we had only hours to wait before the British State, just as it did in Ireland a hundred years ago, contrived to snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory…when, on September 19th, Cameron announced EVEL, he lost the Union.

As I believe I’ve said before, breaking up the UK was always a job for the English.

Oh yes…as I think I also might have said once or twice…Tick Tock

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  1. John Mooney says:

    Excellent article,that is why the tories are known not only as the “Nasty Party” but more to the point as the “STUPID PARTY” :0)

  2. John Page says:

    Great article……thank you

    While we are at this early days of a better Nation, we really should just get on and ban fracking!

    John Page

    1. Muscleguy says:

      Except without a proper basis for the decision, based on sound technical etc reasons it will be struck down by the courts. The way to do it is to find some killer arguments why not that cannot easily be innovated around but are not unreasonable. Such as Sherlock? What do you suggest?

      Note this is real stuff, far removed from protest slogans. What I suspect will happen is that the environmental strictures placed on fracking, especially wrt habitations unlike in England, will effectively make it uneconomic. To frack anywhere near economically you need scale, lots of wells.

      The Central Belt where the gas supposedly is, is densely populated. It won’t take much in terms of planning strictures to knock it on the head.

      With coal gasification under the Forth the company will not be able to guarantee that the seams will stop burning when they turn the oxygen off and will not travel or infect other seams. Explosions in abandoned methan pit shafts under people’s houses are not beyond possible from that. In various places such as Pitenweem coal seams come to the surface and can be seen on cliff faces.

      Again insurances and strictures will kill that economically. Things that are much harder to complain to the courts about.

  3. scottieDog says:

    I would imagine no voters feeling pretty aggrieved that they didn’t have a say after all..

    1. Lesley Docksey says:

      I should think there are quite a lot of English voters like me who are aggrieved that we didn’t get asked. If powers are devolved to Scotland, Wales and N Ireland (and what about the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands…..) then England needs to have devolved powers too.
      What the Tories don’t get is that means a separate parliament elsewhere. Redwood, Cameron and the rest of the silly bunch seem to think that Westminster IS the English parliament. It isn’t. It’s the seat of the United Kingdom’s parliament. Scotland has two sets of representatives – MSPs who vote in Scotland and SMPs who vote in the Commons. Wales have Welsh Assembly members who vote in Cardiff and MPs who vote in London. And N Ireland seems to be in a bit of a tiswas at the moment. But It seems to me that we English should have our own MPs, as well as the Westminster scrum, with one proviso: that none of them are from the elite, large landowners, corporate directors, bankers, tax exiles….
      Cameron seems set on breaking up the Union in a back-handed way, by which I mean he’ll be able to blame everyone else when it happens. Please, Scotland, don’t leave it too long to become independent. Then I can look forward to being part of a Federation of little nations that have everything to offer but self-importance.

      1. Peter Arnott says:

        Exactly. For all intents and purposes it’s only when the Scots, Welsh and Irish are churlish to remind them that some MPs remember that England and Britain aren’t actually the same thing…People talk about the weakness of English nationalism being why federalism won’t work…I think it’s got more to do with that natural but arrogant assumption. The gulf between the world views of places that are bang next to each other is a real head shaker sometimes…till you read some history and think…well people just seem to be LIKE that. (Researching a play about Easter 1916 right now)

      2. MBC says:

        The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom. They are Crown Territories. They do not vote in UK elections and are not represented in the UK parliament. They apparently use the £, and nobody complains about it either. Funny they said Scotland couldn’t and that it would be a disaster if it did.

        1. Lesley Docksey says:

          Should have got back on this before. You’re quite right. I added them in because most people think that they sort of ‘belong’ to Britain without considering the islands’ status. And I am sure that if the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man made moves to become totally independent, we’d really hear about it from some very arrogant Tory toffs! Actually, on reflection, there’s probably be more fuss if they applied to be totally integrated full members of the UK. Can have that favourable tax haven disappear can we?
          Apologies to toffs – living in a Tory toff area, I get a bit acerbic about the problems you’re causing the rest of us.

      3. muttley79 says:

        Redwood, Cameron and the rest of the silly bunch seem to think that Westminster IS the English parliament. It isn’t. It’s the seat of the United Kingdom’s parliament.

        To a very great extent it is though. England is by far the largest and most powerful nation in the British state. To think otherwise is denying the reality of the configuration of the British state. It is by no accident that Britain is usually referred to as England by Americans and others.

      4. Pat says:

        Great post and really explains the issue. Would be great if many more people could read this.

  4. Jac Gallacher says:

    Brilliant Peter

  5. Mike Fenwick says:

    I know in a way this is small beer against the bigger picture, but of the 11 members of the current Scottish Affairs Committee, only 4 were elected in Scotland.

    – If those who yesterday voted in favour of EVEL, and claim it has any validity whatsoever, then the above state of affairs requires immediate rectification.

    – Pete Wishart chairs that Committee – if we are to believe that he and his fellow SNP MPs are there to ensure that Scotland’s voice is to be heard – his is surely the first move to rectify what is a wholly untenable situation. Surely?

    1. MBC says:

      With what power can Wishart act? With 55-56 MPs in a house with 650? Your point is valid though that English MPs can still vote on Scottish-only business, like the Scotland Bill, but Scottish MPs are no longer able to vote on England-only bills.

      1. Mike Fenwick says:

        I could probably give you a number of suggestions, let’s try this one:

        At the opening of any session of the Scottish Affairs Committee, as Chair, Pete Wishart reminds all members that the matters under discussion relate solely to Scotland, and that members who were not elected in Scotland, nor have any Scottish constituents, should respect that position and act (or in my opinion refrain from acting in any way) whilst the session is underway.

        If and when the Chair’s request is not adhered to, he should reissue his request, and (again in my opinion) continue to reassert his request until a message is conveyed that having a Committee established to address exclusively Scottish Affairs should never be established in the current fashion – not least when on the current Committee the Non-Scottish MPs are in the minority.

        Where is heard the Scottish voice if it can be deafened by the majority? Which is in its essence the question that lies at the very heart of the debate on Scottish independence.

        1. Mike Fenwick says:

          Immediate coorrection – sorry!

          Should read:

          – not least when on the current Committee the Non-Scottish MPs are in the majority.

        2. MBC says:

          Well I would expect him to do that, of course, and good on him, but it’s hardly power, is it?

          1. Mike Fenwick says:

            O/T – I should perhaps say that the tone of what I am saying is perhaps today being coloured by some happenings at TalkTalk.

            Hi MBC … I start with my thoughts when after all the hoo-hah over the Scottish MPs arriving with the “voice of Scotland” to be heard loud and clear in WM – somehow (I cannot ever understand how it was allowed to happen) those same MPs allowed the Scottish Affairs committee to be formed with 4 from Scotland and 7 from anywhere but Scotland – and in no way am I holding my breath that my suggestion or anything close to it will be orchestrated. I will watch and see.

            Power? Maybe it depends what you expect from those MPs – at the very least I expected them not to miss a trick, the above was one such.

            But let’s go a bit further – if you visit the Committee’s page, you will find this:

            ” …Welcome to the Scottish Affairs Committee’s website.

            We are a Committee of eleven Members of Parliament appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Scotland Office including relations with the Scottish Parliament. …”

            Now could we expect those MPs to notice which entity is bringing forward the Scotland Bill – and how that relates to the Scottish Parliament – and perhaps subject the proceedings to endless and forensic inquiry? if not, why not?

            Also on the website you will find this:

            ” … We work principally by undertaking inquiries. We choose our own subjects of inquiry and seek evidence from a wide range of groups and individuals with relevant interests and experience.

            We produce reports setting out our findings and making recommendations to the Government.

            The Government has to respond to these recommendations within two months. …”

            Ever watched PMQs, and notice that Angus Robertson has only 2 questions? And that obtaining answers from the PM is rarely possible?

            Do such limitations apply to a robust inquiry, or series of inquiries, from the SAC – a limit on who can be questioned or a limit on the number of questions?

            When one has little power or weight, a lesson can be gained from judo, to win against a heavier or apparently more powerful opponent – first get them off balance.

            Faced with a HofC as you describe – 55/56 against the rest – maybe as you go into battle choosing the site of that battle becomes crucial – and for me the Scottish Affairs committee is a perfect site.

            Why did the 4 allow the opposing 7 into the room -0 and why are they allowing them to stay?

  6. Mike says:

    What is sad is that Labour voters here don’t seem to have realised the sheer impact to the Labour Party across the UK. How can any future Labour government get policy affecting England, such as Health, through parliament, when England is invariably a Tory voting country.

    In addition, with such an apparently endless majority in England, the Tories will be able to do what they like with NHS England, which will have a devastating affect on funding for the NHS in Scotland.

    In other words, the only hope to preserve the NHS here is independence.

    1. Connor McEwen says:

      Evel is a ticking time bomb on a short fuse. Bring it on, and independence

  7. Jim Archibald says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with the analysis. Unfortunately it is so poorly written it is hard to engage with. Less clever posturing and more concise observation please, Peter.. And no, I’m not trolling.

  8. gavin says:

    Its the truth, Peter. The Commons has again reverted to a Parliament of the English, while the Lords has no Peers from Scotland’s largest( by a long way) Party. Because they are democrats in a supposed democracy! The only sane solution was to have a federal structure.
    Scotland, Wales and N Ireland are now the constitutional equivalents of Bantustans, with limited powers, on the outside looking in. What will Labour, Liberals, and the Tories in Scotland campaign for, at any upcoming Westminster election? Vote for us to prop up an “English only” Government?

    Mike—the only remedy is for the Scottish MP’s on the Scottish Affairs Committee to resign and let the Speaker know why. If an English Grand Committee is to be established on ethnic grounds, then other nationalities must also be catered for in the same dismal fashion.

    1. Mike says:

      Don’t disagree, however disengagement, while highlighting the ludicrousness of the situation, will simply allow the remorseless and conscienceless Torys to fill the gap. I don’t think even the Speaker has any say in this, even though it will greatly undermine his role, which is yet another one no Scottish MP could now hold.

      Despite having support from only slightly more than 24% of the electorate, the Tories basically don’t give a shit about democracy, so long as they and their associates hold the reins of power. I am hoping Labour voters here wake up the the disempowerment of their party in England and think again!

    2. Mike Fenwick says:

      Hi gavin … mind if I stick with the above suggestion – it is for those on the Committee who were not elected in Scotland and have no Scottish constituents to resign.

      1. gavin says:

        But they will not resign, Mike. This is not student politics where people hold their hands up and blush at the absurdness of their position. They will brass-neck it out.
        Wishart should approach the Speaker in his new role as constitutional EVEL umpire, state his case, and say the Scottish based MP’s will quit the committee unless the interloupers are expelled from it.

        1. tartanfever says:

          If Pete Wishart questions the make up of the Scottish Select Committee I would expect the speaker to tell him that it’s an England only issue !

          Now that would, quite rightly, throw petrol onto the fire north of the the border.

        2. 1314 says:

          It has to be Mike Fenwick’s suggestion. If the Scottish MPs resign their places will be filled and it will be business as usual with barely a ripple, apart from the SNP being portrayed by an ever willing media as quitters.

          Ask the non-Scottish MPs to quit is a much stronger statement, will no doubt result in much arrogance from
          the Unionists and the media, can be carried on for much longer and will be much harder to ignore.

          1. Mike Fenwick says:

            Below, using They work for you Stats are the voting records of the 7 non Scottish MP’s on Scottish matters:

            Maggie Throup MP

            Consistently voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

            John Stevenson MP

            Almost always voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

            Daniel Poulter MP

            Consistently voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

            Christopher Chope MP

            Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

            Stephen Hepburn MP

            Generally voted for transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

            Jim Cunningham MP

            Generally voted for transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

            David Anderson MP

            Voted a mixture of for and against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

            My starting point is that Pete Wishart and his fellow SNP MPs should never have allowed this situation from the beginning – but it is likely that the system of voting for Committee members precluded that (I don’t know) – but a firm marker should have been put down.

            As I said above, I believe the best (next) move is for Pete Wishart as Chair to ask (if not rule) that all those on the Committee who were not elected in Scotland and have no Scottish constituents, can remain (if they must) as observers only but take no active part in ny other proceedings of the Committee.

            Although above I said the 7 should resign it was in direct response to gavin – and would come at a later stage if at all, I believe it is important that this Committee is not disbanded, reorganised for sure, but not disbanded … let me explain:

            The powers of a select Committee are wide ranging, try these:

            Powers of committees in gathering evidence

            When gathering evidence, almost all select committees have a power to send for “persons,
            papers and records”. This means that committees can insist upon the attendance of
            witnesses and the production of papers and other material. This formal power is rarely
            used.

            When hearing oral evidence, committees have the power to require witnesses to answer
            questions. In practice, evidence-taking before committees is conducted with a degree of
            informality and such powers are seldom used. A committee also has power to take evidence
            on oath. If the procedure is used, which it has on extremely rare occasions, witnesses are
            liable to the laws of perjury.

            Now just use your imagination as to who the Committee could call before them – to answer questions and produce evidence – under oath? And liable to the laws of perjury.

            Yep … just use your imagination.

  9. James Coleman says:

    “As Scottish Politics settles into another dreary round of on-line name calling,”

    Don’t know who you are but you don’t seem to have a clue about how important the “online name calling” is to the SNP. Better not knock it because “online name calling” was the only thing that helped us achieve 45% and rising. And the only thing helping SNP achieve another overall majority next year.

  10. Monty says:

    Don’t think this as big a change as it seems as purely English laws will be few and far between. Danger that this might be talked up into something more than it is rather like the Vow. Perhaps more a certainty than a danger.

  11. James Coleman says:

    What a miserable bastard you are. Does the sun ever shine in your universe. All I read in your shit is complaints and adverse comments about others. Have you any CONSTRUCTIVE ideas? Do YOU ever do anything for anybody? If not shut the fuck up and bow out.

    1. Peter Arnott says:

      You have added joy into my day

      1. Lesley Docksey says:

        And you’ve just cheered me up, Peter!

  12. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I await the opportunity. What we really want is a silly speaker that will blunder and wrongly call something like HS2 “England Only”. Then the chickens will come home to roost. Even the most hardened No voter will then become a pushover.

  13. Daniel Watson says:

    Cameron and his cohorts are just selfish, arrogant, self centred, egotistical, deluded posh boys.
    They have very little talent, poor political judgment and think they have a Devine right to rule over us.
    A poor advert for Private School Education.

  14. Will says:

    Fandabbydosey Tick Tock Tick Tock Towards Scotland’s Independence

  15. Bill Steele says:

    What effect does this have on the Treaty and Act of Union? Does it violate them? Does it annul them? Would the Scottish Parliament be justified to declare that the Treaty of Union has been annulled, and call our MS at Westminster home to Scotland to sit as some kind of superior parliament or to join with the Scottish Parliament, and bar Westminster officials from acting in any capacity in Scotland?

  16. Will Steele says:

    What effect does this have on the Treaty and Act of Union? Does it violate them? Does it annul them? Would the Scottish Parliament be justified to declare that the Treaty of Union has been annulled, and call our MS at Westminster home to Scotland to sit as some kind of superior parliament or to join with the Scottish Parliament, and bar Westminster officials from acting in any capacity in Scotland?

  17. Mike says:

    It seems to me that the original treaty of Parliamentary union has been irrevocably shattered which means of course legally and legitimately the UK of GB is in fact no more and the constituent parts are in fact already Independent of each other and the only reason its not so in practice is because of the despotic undemocratic nature of the UK state.
    Scotland is now in fact in reality an annexed and conquered territory.

  18. George Gunn says:

    The Scottish MP’s should resign from Westminster and move North to Edinburgh and set up a second chamber of the Scottish Parliament. Any room will do. We can work out the declaration of independence in due time.

    1. deewal says:

      I concur.

  19. john young says:

    Off topic I see that Iceland has turned things round,jailed the bankers that were a big part of the demise of their economy,sacked 2 governments left/right that wanted to adopt austerity measures,elected a body of people to run the country and they are up and running,wish we were brave enough.

  20. Douglas says:

    As far as I understand it, this is a change to the parliamentary Standing Orders, not the law…

    …anyway, it plays into our hands. The sooner No voters realize we are an irrelevance in London, the sooner we gain indie…

  21. ian says:

    This is just the first step and EVEL supporters will rightly say its going to have little impact.Its what will follow and as we have been told “its a work in progress”.

  22. douglas clark says:

    I think this is a slippery slope.

    What most folk don’t seem to realise is that after a no vote in the referndum, the nasty party and their chums in nasty party two, think that referendum 1 gives them the right to be whatever they want to be.

    Perhaps their hubris will be their eventual downfall.

    But, first, we have to establsh our right to have a referendum on independence as, or at, our choosing.

  23. Tony Rozga says:

    Perhaps we, in Holyrood, should now create and appoint a “Secretary of State for England”?

  24. Andrew says:

    The EVEL change does very little. It merely means English MPs can veto legislation that affects England but not other parts of the UK, it can’t enact it. The Fox hunting bill for example would have gone the exact same way. Scottish MPs will be involved in all final votes. Under no circumstances can it see English MPs forcing legislation onto Scotland (all it can do is stop the exact opposite from happening).

    The change may be inadequate, but it definitely does not make Scottish MPs into ‘second class MPs’ and I suspect the SNP knows this.

    Also, the Scottish Affairs committee is a scrutinizing body and it would seem like pretty poor politics if it was only SNP MPs on it.

    1. Mike Fenwick says:

      Hi Andrew …

      Pretty poor politics – where only one group of MPs sit on a committee???

      If the Speaker has decided a bill relates only to England it will go through a special, additional Committee Stage. A legislative Grand Committee will be set up, where only English MPs will consider the Bill.

      I am sure you would therefore have to agree that a legislative Grand Committee with only English MPs on it is indeed as you say – pretty poor politics

    2. ian says:

      As you should know this is only the opening faze of EVEL and this was made clear with the comment “this is a work in progress”.Have no doubts this is only the beginning of EVEL.

  25. Ken Mair says:

    The wording “Scottish MP’s” is illegal as it discriminates by nationality in a supposed single country.
    They presumably mean MP’s from Scottish Seats.
    Imagine the confusion if an English politician won a Scottish seat and vice versa.
    There are examples of this. Will they be considered English or Scottish?

    Lots of Scots running for English seats could raise interesting responses.
    It is fascinating to see we were all called British during the referendum now we are non-English.

    It is quite a compliment to see how scared they are that the 1 in 10 MP’s who are from Scotland can actually change any vote, (the same number Scotland had before but they were not worried then) or do they just want us to stop speaking as that is exposing their motives and machinations .
    Still this level of paranoia is not new, they nearly bankrupt themselves building the biggest project of its time Fort George to keep out imaginary masses of giant scary Scottish Warriors that only existed in their minds .

  26. Calum McRae says:

    the brits are at it already, no mention of EVEL on the flagship political programme in both Scotland and the ruk this Sunday.

    the bbc in Scotland and ruk are likely to play this by positioning EVEL as a reasonable move by uk government on the lines that there is a devolved parliament in Edinburgh. This will be coupled by portraying the SNP as posturing in its opposition to this new and reasonable framework.

    How to avoid the trap, exploit the failings of the framework and ensure the Scottish people know exactly why is going on is critical.

    The obvious way to ensure fairness and answer the English question was to create an English Parliament and go for federalism. What we have here is death by a thousand cuts and delaying the enviable.

    As for redwood, his next move will be to request a reassessment and realignment of the Barnett formula. Whether the tories try to sneak this in or the threat of it before some tax powers are devolved requires to be seen. John Swinney needs to be very careful when determining where to position any new powers, e.g. rises in tax to mitigate westminster policies. Rises are likely to result in a cut in the block grant, so Scots pay twice.

    With enemies like the tories it is interesting, tories could end up being Sctland’s best friend and facilitator on its road to independence.

  27. bill fraser says:

    In total agreement with this piece.As I have always maintained,I’m convinced that the Westminster parliament will make a break up of the Union more certain with all their very un -Scottish rhetoric,ably supported by a biased media.

  28. willie says:

    Evel is indeed a work in progress whereby the Westminster parliament is transforming itself into an English Parliament for English People.

    Disbarred from speaking on English matters Scotland’s MPs mist speak on Scottish matters.

    Trident and the location of its infrastructure in Faslane and Coulport is a Scottish matter and Scottish MPs or 97% of them say no.

  29. willie says:

    Let’s also consider tax credit cuts.

    98% of Scottish MPs oppose tax credit cuts because it affects their constituents.

    What good does that do. Does their vote count. Of course it doesn’t. A man with a fun knows that.

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