Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The SNP's double paradox

    It has been interesting to see those celebrating the Greek vote on their financial crisis are a mixture of various nationalists, and the hard left and Greens.

    This highlights a paradox as far as the SNP are concerned.

    The SNP are not a hard left party and their anti-austerity line has been no different than social democrats'.  In fact their anti-austerity line has been more talk than action.

    There is also a paradox with regards to Europe.  As nationalists maybe their belief in Europe is more convenience than conviction.  The thinking of many of the supporters of the SNP is muddled at least.

EVEL is a terrible idea

My gut instinct is that David Cameron is foolish on devolution and that EVEL (English Votes for English laws)  is a terrible idea.

Ever since he made that ill judged speech on the morning of 19 September 2014 he has been playing fast and loose with Britain.  I like devolution.  I think decentralisation is good and that Britain is particularly well suited to it.  It is the natural order of things.

Indeed the natural conclusion of all this is devolution in some shape or form throughout the UK with Westminster becoming the national parliament.  The federal parliament if you like.

Some sort of devolution or decentralisation within England would be best for this to work and to be sustainable otherwise we just become England with some semi-detached add-ons like Scotland or Northern Ireland.  

Yes - EVEL creates 2 tiers of MPs and it makes it unlikely that a Scot or Welshman could ever be PM or a senior minister.  It turns Westminster into the English Parliament, which it is not.  And all this increases the chances of independence.

What then is the way forward?  I accept that the development of a full federal structure will not happen overnight but there are already some ideas on parliament, to work with as an interim step, within the Mackay Commission.   Developing wider decentralisation within England probably has to start with developing localism, regional structures like 'Northern Powerhouse' and empowering county authorities.  But that is so British.  Quirky and organic developments.

The Smith Commission and the Scotland Bill making its way through parliament gives us a strong devolved Scotland. Stronger even than German Lander and very much as promised during the Referendum campaign, however the nationalists try to spin it.  

The key for devolution to work within the United Kingdom is getting the UK level right and getting devolution right for England.  But EVEL is a terrible idea and the Conservatives are clueless about how the union and further devolution can work together.