Friday, 19 September 2014

Scotland's "no" vote will break the union without fundamental constitutional change

So Scotland has voted no to independence. The no campaigners are celebrating their "victory" but it's a hollow one - 45% of Scots don't want to be part of the UK any more, even with all the promises of more power and money for voting to stay. It was absolutely right that the Scots had their say on how their country is run but it has left a nation divided.

The Scots have had their say and it's now time for the English to have theirs. A large number of promises have been made to the Scots by Cameron, Clegg and Miliband - promises that they can't keep without securing a vote in the Commons. They have promised more power, more money, the continuation of the Barnett Formula in perpetuity and the right to interfere in how England is governed forever. Needless to say, with a general election next year some MPs representing English constituencies have taken issue with all these promises and one promised a "bloodbath" when they get to the voting stage.

All this has prompted David Cameron to announce that only MPs representing English constituencies should be allowed to vote on laws that only affect England, so-called English votes on English laws. This isn't the answer though because it's a fundamentally flawed plan. When the Conservatives first announced English votes on English laws as their policy years ago it took less than a day for an MP elected in Scotland to point out that he would be able to claim an interest in any English law that cost money because it would affect the amount of money Scotland gets. MPs representing Scottish constituencies would be banned from voting on almost nothing at all.

In Scotland they vote for Scottish politicians to sit in a Scottish parliament who are elected to represent Scottish interests. The supposed answer to this for England is to vote for British politicians to sit in the British parliament who are elected to represent British interests who will form a Grand Committee to vote on British laws that only affect England as long as they don't cost money. If English votes on English matters is the answer then they're asking the wrong question.

The only way to make the union fair and equal and stop it being torn apart by jealousy and resentment is to create a devolved English Parliament with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament. Trying to pass off a half-baked fudge that is inherently flawed as being equivalent to the Scottish Parliament is insulting. Which is why it's disappointing to see UKIP promoting the same flawed policy despite having a policy paper written three years ago explaining how an English Parliament would work whilst cutting the number of politicians, saving money and strengthening the union in the process.

Scotland's future has been decided by the Scottish people, now it's time for the people of England to decide their future and I hope that UKIP sees sense and plays a part in making that happen.