Friday, 19 September 2014

Guardian: If it’s good enough for Scotland … let England have its own parliament

Guardian: If it’s good enough for Scotland … let England have its own parliament

Article by John Redwood

The way Better Together behaved during the campaign tried the patience of many English unionists. I disliked their negative attacks, and their lack of emphasis on what the union has achieved in the past and more importantly what it can achieve in the future. I disliked the way large sections of English opinion were told not to trouble Scotland and to keep out of the way for fear of upsetting people there. I thought some businesses intervened in a counterproductive way, which may leave them with problems with customers of a different outlook for years to come. Above all I disliked the way the campaign towards the end made offers to Scotland without consulting the many English MPs who will be expected to vote it all through, and without mentioning the place of England.

The campaign did get across the fact that Scotland could not stay in the currency union if it left the political union. I was delighted that I and the others who made this case continuously about the euro have now persuaded most people. Do not share a bank account with the neighbours. I was disappointed that the Better Together campaign did not get across the fact that Scotland’s dependence on North Sea oil revenue is a temporary boost to Scotland, one which is diminishing rapidly as the oil runs out.

As we now seek to put into legislation what Gordon Brown called home rule for Scotland we will need to do the same for England – and for Wales and Northern Ireland if that is their wish. Today we have different classes of MP at Westminster. Scottish MPs are the most powerful, able to vote on all matters relating to England, while English MPs are the least powerful as we are unable to vote on any devolved matter for Scotland. My proposal – that we form an English parliament at Westminster to handle all devolved matters for England – reunites the powers and duties of union MPs.

I agree with John Redwood that we need an English parliament, but I don't think it woul be enough for English MPs at Westminster to double up as an English parliament. Having two classes of Westminster could be a problem and there would be no campaigns on specific English issues outside of the general election. We need a new body that would specifically rerpesent devolved English politics. I think it would be a nice symbolic gesture to hold such a parliament in Birmingham or Manchester, as a sign that the nation exists beyond London.

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