Monday, 22 June 2009

Not in the interests of the many

Last week’s PMQs (PMQ 17/6/09) saw Gordon Brown launch his latest campaign which is summed up by the sound bite “not in the interests of the many, but the few”.

He challenged Cameron “They [the Tories] should go back to their constituencies and explain how many police, how many nurses, how many doctors, how many teachers they would cut for policies that are in the interests not of the many but in their case in the interests of the few.”

It sounds like a fair point, except that if Brown was to do the same, his constituents would tell him he doesn’t represent them (ergo no mandate) for any of these issues. In fact he doesn’t represent ANYONE in these areas!

Partial devolution has created two classes of MP at Westminster. There are those that represent their constituents in all matters put before them (1st Class) and those who are excluded from representing their constituents when it comes to Health, Education, Housing, Sport and Arts, Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing, Emergency Services, Planning, Social Work, Heritage, some Transport and Tourism (2nd Class).

Brown, like Darling and roughly 20% of the House belong to this second tier. He CAN’T go back to his constituents and tell them “how many police, how many nurses, how many doctors, how many teachers” HE would cut, because it’s none of his damn business!

I wrote to Tom Harris MP for Glasgow South who is a first class blogger and second class MP (in the above sense) and asked him if he felt his public service had been devalued since devolution. I haven’t had a reply, so the email must’ve got lost in the ether.

What I don’t understand is why Cameron didn’t nail him with this one. I realise that Cameron considers England to be full of “sour little Englanders”, but he’s also a politician and they have been known in the past to use anything at their disposal, why didn’t he use this?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

“…a nation with a single political identity which it has maintained for at least as long as Scotland’s”

The Calman Commission (pic left) has published its report.

The fact it is called “Serving Scotland Better” and Brown said it is “bold and realistic” immediately set my teeth on edge. Despite this and in the interests of academic thoroughness, I sat down and read it.

It contained much that I expected although my blood pressure steadily rose as it ducked and dived the issues that cause the greatest harm, viz…

Barnett: “it is not for us to judge whether the present level of public spending in Scotland is appropriate or not” (37)

Asymmetrical devolution: “It is not our job to say whether this should change” (16)

The West Lothian Question: “is a matter for the UK Parliament, not a matter for the Commission” (4.92)

So, I wasn’t expecting much meat to be found on these bones. I was however expecting to read about “nations and regions” and regional assemblies for “the rest of the UK”, but to be fair, they mentioned the ‘E’ word often throughout the whole report.

Then I read something that the Lib/Lab/Con trick alliance won’t be happy about …

2.12 “…there is no equivalent of devolved institutions for England.”

2.13 “It is not for us to discuss where or how power might be decentralised or devolved in England – whether, as has been proposed in the past, to regional level, or by giving more power to local institutions."

Here we go. Not power devolved to England, but IN England. Sounds like the hated regionalist policy to me, but then it goes on…

“But, however such ideas might be pursued, they will not affect the fact that England, though larger than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, will remain a nation with a single political identity which it has maintained for at least as long as Scotland’s.”

Wow! I have read and re-read this paragraph and they seem to be saying that England is a nation with "a single political identity at least as long as Scotland's!!" Does Gordon know about this? He'll be furious!

It continues…

“It is of course possible to divide the UK into “standard regions” for administrative and statistical purposes. Scotland is one of those regions, as are Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Yeah but they’re also nations as well as administrative ‘standard regions’.

“But the standard regions in England do not have the same sort of political identity as

Are they saying that regions will never have the same political identity as Scotland because they are a subset of the nation of England? Have I read this correctly? I hope so because it concludes…

“ This fundamental aspect of the Union will always remain, and must not be ignored in its territorial constitution.”

Are they saying England is a nation and this fact must not be ignored in its constitution (and logically) any future constitution?

If this is the case, then Calman has delivered something I didn’t expect and I don’t think Gordon will be happy about the “regions” being recognized as the nation of England. Especially by a bunch of lackys he’s paid to do a snow job on Barnett!.

I like this report a great deal more than I thought I would.

BTW as we have a Government commited to “fairness for all the UK” I thought I’d google “Serving England Better” and I got this…

No results found for "serving england better".”, so there were no surprises there.