Sunday, 12 February 2012

UK Devolution - there are two choices as far as I am concerned.

There is plenty of talk about the unbalanced devolution situation in the UK.

Certain issues have been 'devolved' to national bodies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (assembly or parliament) - such as health and education (so university fees). However England has no national body, so these issues are still decided by the UK parliament at Westminster - so Scots, Welsh and NI policy are set by people from those nations, but English policy is set be people from the whole of the UK.

This is 'unfair', but there are several possible ways of handling this, 1) It can continue to be ignored, 2) The devolved bodies could be abolished and 'devolved' issues returned to the UK parliament at Westminster, 3) England could get its own parliament.

Option 1 - ignoring the problem is the default option, it is what currently happens and is generating a level of dissatisfaction, however to change a different option needs enough support to actually bring the change about.

Option 2 - abolishing the devolved bodies - this is generally said to be impossible/impractical/unacceptable - however I would suggest that given the option of only full independence or abolition, this could focus minds somewhat.

Option 3 - An English parliament. This is the option that gets the headlines, however there are two suggestions for implementing this.

3a) A new body to work under Westminster. This is a proposal for a new parliament, with newly elected english representatives - working separately from the UK parliament which would continue to handle UK wide issues.

3b) Allow the English MPs at Westminster to meet separately as an 'English Parliament', while also meeting with all UK MPs as the UK parliament.

It seems to me that if we can't have equality from option 2 (having a single parliament for the whole UK), then option 3b is the best solution - I only need one 'representative' (MP) - my current MP decides UK wide issues and English issues - so I see no reason that he can't continue to do so. It simply means that NI, Scots and Welsh MP's would be removed from the decision making process on issues 'devolved' to the English parliament.

Having a single MP for the English parliament and the UK parliament would mean no extra expense and no change to elections and no extra politicians to *create* more work for themselves - also it could be implemented very quickly and simply.

NI, Wales and Scotland may wonder why they are paying for two full time representatives, while the English pay for only one - but as long as they pick up the tab for there representatives, then that is their privilege and their problem.

However - should Scotland decided to become independent, then I think all bets are off - if GB is to be divided, rather than being a single island/country then I would favour the South East/London becoming an independent state too. GB/UK has some rational as an island, but if that is given up then there is no particular rational to the south east and north to be a single nation...

England as an independent nation - Cockneys and Scoucers, Geordies mashed in together but not Scots? - why?

I have as much/little in common with a Scouser or Geordie as I do with a Scot - if the Scots break the UK, then the South/South East should become independent too - if we aren't in this all together then we need to be a size that we can get behind to build a new nation.

6 comments:

  1. In order to understand why Option 2 is not possible you have to go back to the 1920's. When Home Rule for Ireland was eventually passed by the British Parliament on its fourth attempt it was not intended Ireland would by an Independent nation. It was viewed at the time as "devolution".

    Whilst it remains true the Govt of Ireland Act 1920 could be repealed by a future British Parliament can you really see any of them doing so?

    The same applies to the legislation that devolved Parliaments and Assemblies to Scotland and Wales.

    On the other side the Stormont Parliament in Northern Ireland has been suspended but there were special circumstances for doing so that do not and are not likely to apply to Scotland and Wales.

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  2. Quote: "my current MP decides UK wide issues and English issues" no he/she doesn't.

    An English parliament is the only viable option. It could replace either the Commons or the Lords. My preference is replacing the unelected Lords, that doesn't scrutinise the devolved chambers anyway.

    Having an English parliament would provide England with its own First Minister and executive. Both would focus on England. English votes on English laws would provide neither and decisions would be made with one eye on the rest of the UK. Seeing as England invented modern parliamentary democracy it's intolerable that it is the only country in the democratic West without its own elected chamber.

    The only reason England does not have its own parliament is because it is in this so-called union. Devolution has shown just exactly what the rest of the UK thinks about England and the English. On every measure England is firmly wedged at the bottom of the spending ladder. Not only that, we were/are expected to see the demise of England with it being replaced by regions. Every time spending is discussed the comparison is always made between Scotland or Wales with whatever region suits their argument best. This is usually London. This conveniently disguises how England always comes off worse.

    Seeing as every MP has overseen England being disadvantaged so badly by devolution why should we trust these people any longer? I certainly do not trust any of them to fight England's corner should Scotland and/or Wales go independent.

    Only an English parliament is anywhere near satisfactory.

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  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXi8NpAndpA

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  4. I have read all comments, and it comes down to this:-

    Scotland and Wales have their stupid little separate parliament/assembly because England chooses to indulge them - and the silly little people who partake of the scottish and welsh assemblies probably do very well for themselves as greedy little individuals.

    But to be an independent nation, England needs Scotland and Wales as partners to make the Island of GB a proud, independent, self-standing nation - its not a desperate 'need' that means England must allow itself to be shafted (as it is now) by other forces, rather it is need that the scots an welsh will recognised (given the chance)

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  5. Paul

    You make some reasonable points. But you miss a couple of crucial facts. The first is that there are no Scottish, Welsh, Irish or English MPs at Westminster. They are all, by definition, BRITISH MPs.

    Secondly, the plain truth is that the overwhelming majority of those British MPs represent constituencies in England. To that extent, at least, they may be regarded as English MPs. This massive numerical superiority means that Westminster is effectively the English parliament. This is the reality that, in large measure, gave rise to the demand for devolution.

    Few people understand the frustrations of the people of England better, or have more respect for their aspirations, than those of us who boast a lifelong commitment to Scotland's civic nationalism. That understanding and respect is manifested not least in the fact that SNP MPs do not involve themselves in House of Commons business that pertains only to England.

    The people of both Scotland and England have a common foe in the corrupt and anachronistic institutions of the British state. None of us may realise our full democratic potential until we break the stultifying embrace of the British establishment and the entrenched systems of privilege and patronage that are perpetuated by the old political parties.

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  6. I don't accept the 'They are all BRITISH MPs' argument. My MP is the Brighton Kemptown MP - which parliament he sits in or where he represents Brighton Kemptown doesn't change that. I want exactly the same thing from my representative where ever they represent me - to argue *my* case.

    England is the biggest part of the union - but I have as little/much in common with a scouser or gerodie as I do a scot - the 'english' aren't a homogeneous group we aren't 'one' people. You might as well complain that there are too many MP's with blue eyes.

    If UK splits (GB really - our island has coherence and makes sense as a single unit), then its a blank sheet for me - Southeast/London independence. Why would I want scousers, geordies having any say over my government?

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