Posts Tagged 'English Parliament'

Labour’s selfish priorities laid bare for all to see

Far better to have a two-tier United Kingdom that includes a second class country than a two-tier Parliamentary chamber that includes second class MPs.

That’s Labour’s thrust in its opposition to the notion of MPs from English constituencies possibly being able to block legislation that only affects England, which would have been progressed through the Commons because of the party whipped votes of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs.  The Independent has gratefully palmed the proffered crumbs from the establishment table and is running with the story.

Labour says the coalition idea that only English MPs could have the final say in approving or rejecting legislation on matters that only affect England, is ‘hare-brained’.  They are right, but for the wrong reason.

It isn’t hare-brained because it marginalises and creates a lower tier of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs, who would not be able to impose laws on England that won’t apply in their own countries.  Boo hoo.  It is hare-brained because it continues to deny the English people – uniquely among western ‘democratic’ countries – their own national Parliament and the same level of self determination as that enjoyed by the other UK countries.

This Tory-Limp Dum plan tells the English they must remain second class citizens within the United Kingdom. It says the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish people will continue to have more control over affairs in their countries – in competences such as education, the NHS, transport or environment – than the English have in England.  It says the other parts of the Union can have power that is denied to the English.

These are not the reasons Labour are opposed to the ‘hare-brained’ idea, their only concern is that their party whips would lose a substantial number of votes in the lobby on English only matters, because 67 of their MPs are from north of the border or west of Offa’s Dyke.  It is self serving party maintenance of the worst order.

Why anyone in England would vote for such a rancid collection of bile-infused troughers remains a mystery.  Hopefully this will help some of those voters see Labour for the mendacious and bitter collective of grubbing  entitlement that it is.

England must have its own Parliament. That is the only acceptable solution to the West Lothian Question.

In a democracy decision making power should be delegated to the lowest possible level, as close to the people as can be achieved.  An English Parliament has a place in such a structure.  We just need real democracy in this country in which such a Parliament could function according to the will of the people…

Con-Lib: The good, the bad, and the undefined

(Part two of this post will appear later in a separate entry…)

The party political manoeuvering is complete and the Liberal Democrat bird is now nesting in the Conservative oak tree.  ‘Operation Save Dave’ has been a heavily qualified success for the clique that surrounds David Cameron and we will learn today who will be the Ministers in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.  Every government, however much one might despise it overall, delivers some things that are positive.  Labour did achieve some positive things, and this coalition will be no exception.  So it’s a good time to assess what we might expect from the Con-Lib coalition.

The media will inevitably focus on the personalities and start to dig out whatever comments they can find in their archive where members of the newly forged Cabinet railed against their new colleagues and against positions they have now signed up to.  But what matters most is the shape and content of the agreement that has been cobbled together by the parties and what the government’s business will mean for ordinary voters.  As the details emerge I plan to share, in no particular order, my personal centre-right take on the new government’s agenda.  Hopefully you will share your thoughts in the comments.

Forget the Northern Ireland Chuckle Brothers that were, namely Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.  The UK now has its own special double act, the Terrible Twins, Dave and Nick, or Cameron and Clegg if you will.  They have published their agreement so we now have a clearer idea of what they plan to do in the UK, well, in those areas where they think we are not controlled by the EU.

Deficit Reduction –

With Labour gone we are not going to have to wait another year or two before government acts to reduce the deficit.  But we have to wait until July for the emergency budget for the details beneath the headlines. While the direction of travel seems sound, it’s disappointing that the Lib Dems have forced a less ambitious pace for cutting back unnecessary public spending.  But what the Dave giveth, the Nick taketh away, because while the document talks of stopping ‘Labour’s proposed jobs tax’ the fact is we are going to pay a higher rate of National Insurance to fund the raising of the income tax personal allowance.

Spending Review –

This is urgently needed.  But we will have to wait until the autumn to see the state of the books Labour has left behind.  This is when the pain will be felt and Labour’s legacy exposed.

Tax Measures –

The income tax personal allowance will be raised in increments to £10,000.  How this was not a Conservative policy still eludes me.  Allowing people to keep more of what they earn is the right thing to do.  But inheritance tax, which punishes people who are left assets and who, through no fault of their own have seen the value of their assets (such as houses in what have become expensive areas) rise, has been stuck on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

The airlines, under enough pressure already, will experience some more as air passenger duty is converted into per plane duty.  Not all flights on scheduled routes will fly full, so the airlines will experience more of a burden, which will be passed on to passengers through increased air fares.  Just one more example of how the greenwash of the UK will cost us ever more money.

The commitment to tackling tax avoidance could become an issue for wealth creators who will be needed to grow their businesses and create employment.  Tax evasion is a crime, minimising tax liabilities through avoidance is legal.  The language used is emotive and reminds us that the government covets what people have and believes it is entitled to the rewards for our endeavours.

Banking Reform –

Here we go.  Someone has to be portrayed as the enemy, and it’s the banks again that are under attack.  Applying the planned banking levy will reduce the amount of money banks have available to lend and available to invest to help boost our pensions and investments.  It is shortsighted and panders to people who don’t realise what it will cost them in the long run.  The only justification for a banking levy is to recoup money provided by the taxpayers to recapitalise the banks.

By going after bankers’ bonuses, the Dave and Nick show is increasing the prospect of our best and brightest bank executives and traders leaving for better terms in countries that we compete with.  It defies belief that the method of increasing compeitiveness is to level the banks downwards and by pressing them to separate retail and commercial banking.

However there is some sensible thinking on display in respect of regulatory simplification and having a single body, in the shape of the Bank of England, to maintain oversight.  Also the pledge not to join the Euro in the lifetime of the agreement is welcome, but in the circumstances a very obvious commitment.

Immigration –

The unworkable and completely unacceptable idea of an amnesty for illegal immigrants is off the table.  Perhaps the Lib Dems realised just how nonsensical the idea was.

The Conservative pledge to cap migrant numbers from outside the EU is welcome.  Clegg’s assertion that 80% of migrant workers come here from the EU was completely wrong.  MigrationWatch UK demonstrated from official statistics that more workers come here from non-EU countries, so a cap makes sense.

However this completely fails to address the problem of a glut of unskilled labour from EU countries coming to this country without restriction, increasing pressure on infrastructure and public services such as education, healthcare and housing.  The fact remains that all three main parties are commited to maintaining full membership of the EU regardless of the wishes of the public.  Until the main parties listen and represent the wishes of the electorate, this country will not be able to control its own borders and prevent surplus work capacity alighting on these shores.

Political Reform –

It is excellent to see Fixed Term Parliaments being implemented.  However both parties have decided not to take the opportunity to allow voters to choose their MPs every four years, which would have been more democratic.  There is clearly a strong element of self interest on display from the coalition partners.

The Con-Lib coalition has also sought to protect its own position with an insipid little proposed Bill to dissolve Parliament if 55% or more of MPs vote to do so.  This is another example of the all-spoils-to-the-victor Cameron and Clegg claimed to be getting away from.  It should be a simple majority to bring about a dissolution of Parliament – 50% plus one vote.  This move is fundamentally undemocratic and self serving.  This takes the power of incumbency and meshes it with Tammany Hall politics to make it harder to dismiss a government that does not control the confidence of the House.  Another example of the reality of the new politics!

Voting reform was always going to figure.  Thankfully the nightmare scenario of proportional representation is not on the table, rather the Alternative Vote method.  I don’t want it and I won’t vote for it if the planned referendum becomes reality.  But it is absolutely the right thing that the electorate will decide in a referendum.  Rather than just grant a referendum, the political class will demonstrate its grip on power by putting the idea to a vote in the Commons first.  Still the people are not trusted to decide for themselves what they want.  Where is the representative nature of our democracy evident in this process?

It goes without saying that there is no hint of a referendum concerning our relationship with the EU.  This underlines the continuing hypocrisy of the political class… ‘look, we are graciously considering allowing you to choose the voting system, but we will not let you choose if you wish to remain governed by the EU’.  This is one of the major failings of a system rigged to suit the interests of the politicians over those of the voters.  For all the posturing and efforts to appear virtuous, the political class continues to bind the hands of the electorate when it suits it.

Prepare for trouble ahead as plans are developed to make the House of Lords an elected chamber.  Which House will have more democratic legitimacy in the event of the two chambers adopting entrenched opposed positions on a matter?  The Lords can only make a nuisance of itself for a period of time before the Commons can force legislation through.  But when the upper House is mainly or fully elected, what right will the Commons have to continue that practice?

Good to see a power of recall for MPs.  However, who will determine what constitutes ‘serious wrongdoing’?  Again, it is those who would be subject to the rules who are making the rules.  The electorate is not being asked to determine the threshhold that can trigger a constituency petition and recall of the sitting MP.

At last we look like having proper voter registration to tackle electoral fraud.  But even that will not eradicate the possibility of electoral fraud by postal voting.  There needs to be legislation to restrict postal voting to exceptional circumstances to significantly reduce the possibility of fraud.  Postal votes should be reserved for those with limited mobility and those who will not be present on polling day.  Using postal voting for mere convenience will always undermine the integrity of the ballot.

English Parliament –

… and breathe.  Cowardice from both coalition partners.  I know there is no section in the Con-Lib agreement devoted to devolution for England and the creation of an English Parliament, but the matter is of such democratic importance it deserved one.  All we got was a single sentence:

‘We have agreed to establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’.

That’s it.  In full.  They couldn’t even bring themselves to use the words ‘English’ and ‘devolution’ in the same sentence.  This is craven pandering to the devolved countries.  In the very next sentence Dave and Nick promise a referendum to Wales on further Welsh devolution based on the proposals of the Calman Commission.  The top priority should be addressing the disgraceful democratic deficit affecting one country in the Union, not giving another the chance to enhance their devolution of powers from Westminster.

What makes this all the more infuriating is that England has supported the Cameron Conservatives despite their leftward lurch, and in return England continues to be treated with contempt.  Addressing the English democratic deficit should be one of the most pressing matters for the Con-Lib coalition given their self regarding comments about their belief in democracy.  Their casual approach proves they lack the political will to afford England equality within the very Union it subsidises financially.

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Still to come… Welfare; Edyookashun; Civil Liberties; Environment; the portfolio that dare not mention its name in the agreement despite Cameron putting Afghanistan as his priority one, Defence; and finally an old favourite – the EU.

Do please leave your comments.

Northern Ireland parties back Lib-Lab pact in return for Celtgeld

The SNP in Scotland has already said it would work with Labour.  Plaid Cymru in Wales has worked with Labour before.  Now the DUP and SDLP in Northern Ireland have signalled they would side with a Lib-Lab pact on a case by case basis to ensure taxpayers’ money continues to flow into the province.  With Gordon Brown stepping aside, all the pieces are falling into place around Nick Clegg to prop up a new Labour Prime Minister. England, uniquely without its own national legislature, stands to suffer the consequences of this political stitch up.

It would be a broad, ramshackle coalition only made possible by tax pounds from England being poured into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as an ongoing bribe in return for votes in the House.  In centuries past the people of what is now England paid the Danegeld – an Anglo Saxon tax to buy off the Danish invaders.  Here in 2010 the Labour Party are preparing to pay a Celtgeld raised from English taxpayers to buy off the nationalist parties in the devolved countries to keep a Labour administration in office.

New politics and national interest indeed.

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Gordon Brown to resign. Lib-Lab pact? England to be ruled by celtic coalition?

It is no surprise that the smallest and least supported of the three main parties, the Liberal Democrats, have conducted their negotiations with the Tories while keeping back channels open with Labour.  Despite having the smallest mandate of the three main parties, the Lib Dems are now the most powerful force in British politics because they hold an inordinate balance of power.

It has become clear that the blocker to a Liberal Democrat coalition with the Labour Party was Gordon Brown because the Lib Dems do not like him.  With Labour’s naked thirst for power uppermost in its considerations, the comrades in dark suits have successfully manoeuvred Brown out of the way to increase their appeal to the Lib Dems.  The Lib Dem ransom demand looks set to be paid.

The Conservative negotiation team that thought it held the best hand to win over the Lib Dems might find it has been playing a busted flush.  It might be about to find out just what a mistake it was to entertain the idea of a deal with the most treacherous and unprincipled bunch of politicians this country has to offer.  David Cameron could now find himself remaining leader of a huge opposition party.  The real danger is Britain’s economic outlook as any coalition including Labour will continue to increase the public debt at a time it needs to be dramatically reduced.  The real winner of this election would be the EU.

So what now?  The prospect of a Labour Prime Minister remaining in 10 Downing Street has dramatically increased.  The Lib Dems have held the country to ransom and will push the least popular agenda of the three main parties onto the business of the House, where a grateful but defeated Labour Party will vote them through as the price of keeping power.  There is a big question people should be asking now.  How do these political power games played out by the political class serve the interests of voters?

But the biggest question of all is this.  What would the Lib-Lab-SNP-PC coalition that’s being mooted mean for England?  The democratic deficit suffered by England due to it having no national legislature could dramatically widen into a chasm if such a coalition assumes power.  It would mean legislation is foisted upon England by a government comprised of Scottish and Welsh nationalists, possibly with the aid of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists.

If Clegg and Labour agree a pact, how will England’s voters – who thought they had defeated Labour – react to being led by another Labour Prime Minister and having legislation imposed on them by MPs from other countries?  One thing we can be sure of, while Cameron would have been bad for this country, a Clegg-Miliband/Balls/Harman axis will be an utter disaster.

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An English Parliament is more necessary than ever

This General Election has seen the Conservative and Unionist Party confirmed as an English political party.  Of the 10,706,647 votes cast for the Conservatives across the United Kingdom, 9,911,062 were cast in England.  The Conservatives currently hold a clear majority 297 of the 533 English Parliamentary seats (with one seat yet to elect an MP).  In the devolved countries – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – out of a possible 117 seats the Conservatives won a paltry 9, securing just 795,585 of the 4,606,283 votes cast.

Despite this level of support in England, the Conservatives unbelievably plan to continue treating England as a second class country within the United Kingdom.  England alone has no national legislature. England alone is forced to accept governance from the UK Parliament.  The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish legislatures control major areas such as health, education and transport in their countries with no outside interference.  Those same core governmental areas in England are controlled by Westminster, with MPs for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish constituencies detemining how England is run, safe in the knowledge that what they decide to impose on England will not affect their own constituents.

The Conservative plan is to allow MPs for English constituencies to look at Bills ihe early stages before putting them to the vote in the House of Commons – where the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish will continue to have the fundamentally undemocratic ability to vote on them.  You might be asking yourself why, given this has been known for a while, has the need for an English Parliament has suddenly become more urgent?  The reason is the outcome of the General Election.

David Cameron, in his desperation to become Prime Minister, has offered the Liberal Democrats the chance to govern with the Conservatives in a coalition.  If the proposal is accepted, it would be a political shotgun wedding and become a fractious marriage.  There will always be the possibility that the Lib Dems will walk out of the relationship, abandon the Conservatives and set up home with Labour, with whom they are more compatible.

If this happened, Labour and the Lib Dems would secure the support of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Party of Wales (Plaid Cymru) and almost certainly the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP) and Alliance Party MPs from Northern Ireland.  The combined votes of these parties would be 336, giving this grouping a majority in the Commons.  Their legislative agenda in Westminster would, by definition, affect England more than the devolved countries because England does not have the degree of self determination granted to the other countries.

In such circumstances without power being devolved from Westminster to an English Parliament, major polices concerning health, education and transport among others, would be imposed upon the English through the votes of MPs from outside England, representing parties that have not stood for election in English constituencies, or parties that have been overwhelmingly rejected by English voters.  The situation differs from the last Parliament because Labour had more MPs in English constituencies than the Conservatives.  But now the position is very different.  The imposition of legislation on England that can only be made possible by the votes of non English MPs is a very real prospect and something that would be completely unacceptable.

The Conservatives need to act swiftly to present a Bill to form an English Parliament that could properly protect the interests of the English, before the possibility of the Tories being turfed back into ineffective opposition.

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A thought for St George’s Day

A very Happy St George’s Day to all English folk!  Today is a good day to spare a thought for England.

England suffers from the worst democratic deficit in Europe because it is the only country without its own legislative body.  England is a country many of whose laws are enacted in part by people from other countries, to whom those laws will not apply.  England is a country whose identity is being eroded, as bureaucrats attempt to turn it into a collection of regions.  Even the identity of the English Channel stands to be changed in an effort to suit the interests of the EU.

But a poll released today shows that English people are becoming increasingly conscious of these inequalities.  As devolution has handed a degree of autonomy to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the people of their larger poor relation are starting to call for equal treatment within the United Kingdom.

The only fair outcome is the creation of an English Parliament and proper democratic accountability on matters that apply solely to England.  If you believe in democracy and equality please support the Campaign for an English Parliament this St George’s Day.  And if you have your own blog, why not show your support for England by joining the English Free Press too?

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The England conspiracy

Blogosphere exclusive:  John Inverdale, the BBC presenter fronting the Scotland v England Six Nations Rugby today, said a few moments ago on BBC1 that Christine Bleakley successfully managed to water-ski ‘across the whole of the British Channel’ yesterday.

Inverdale is an excellent presenter and I know he was ad-libbing rather than reading from a script, but come on.  He’s at an England rugby match for crying out loud!

Seeing as the comment was made live in Edinburgh, perhaps conspiracy theorists will discover dark Scottish forces at work and learn that this was really a subliminal part of Gordon Brown’s big ‘Britishness’ campaign…

Joking aside, England still suffers from a disgraceful and unacceptable democratic deficit.  Laws that only apply to England are made and voted through by MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The other three countries have their own devolved assemblies and parliaments to legislate on their domestic issues.  It is only right that England should have its own Parliament to determine matters that only concern the English.

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