Thursday, July 26, 2007

Support for an English Parliament

Vino's argues against an English Parliament in some detail. I think, hopefully he'll correct me if I'm wrong, that his argument can be boiled down to the following:

"However, I strongly suspect that there is not much demand for an English parliament as an immediate constitutional aim among voters in England. [...] So, to sum up, I do not feel that the West Lothian Question poses any significant real political issues – although it does pose logical ones. The way to deal with it would be, indeed, to offer a referendum on an English Parliament and see what happens. Should there not be public demand for it, then it will not pass. There is no reason to give devolution to voters who do not wish it and who prefer powers to be exercised by the national government or by regional or local authorities rather than by an intermediate layer of government. That would in itself be undemocratic and be overriding their preference for the status quo."


I agree with Gracchi's response to Vino: that the central issue is the constitutional inequality created by unequal devolution. I disagree with his identification of a rising tide of English patriotism/nationalism as generally 'nasty'. I think it's an entirely legitimate sense of fellow feeling and see no evidence it is more likely to lead to nastiness than other group-loyalties.

On the issue of having a referendum on a new parliament:

I doubt you would find a single member of a group like the Campaign for an English Parliament or the Witanagemot club (hopefully they'll correct me if I'm wrong) who wouldn't be absolutely happy with a referendum. It is obviously the way to introduce such an important constitutional change and appears likely to return a 'yes' answer.

On 'demand' for an English parliament:

The reason those of us in favour of an English Parliament would be confident about winning a referendum is that there is strong demand for such a parliament, across the United Kingdom. This has been revealed in polls such as this one, from the Telegraph:

Unfortunately it isn't just Vino who has not yet noted the rising demand for giving English voters proper representation. Labour ministers are of the same opinion; that there is little demand for an English parliament. Their mistake is far less understandable and far more important.

6 comments:

Vino S said...

Matt, your summary of my view is a fair one. I do not think the issue is as yet of salience in the way that a Scottish parliament or Welsh assembly was. The one thing, though, I would like to add, though, is that I said that i think, in England, the Parliament people identify with is the UK parliament - _because_ English constituencies provide 85% of its members. I think that's a key point. As is the arithmatical one about how any law passed in Westminster would have to have the support of at least 45% of English MPs whereas a law could easily be passed in Westminster without the votes of a single Scottish or Welsh MP.

I have got no objection to holding a referendum on the issue, to see if people want such a parliament. What I am simply suggesting [and we won't know until we have one] is that any such referendum would have a far lower turnout than the Scottish devolution one and a higher "No" vote (which might exceed 50%).

Additionally, I think that - if a referendum is not held - one way of measuring the _salience_ of the issue (i.e. how important people who want an English parliament see the issue as) is to see the share of the vote going to parties like the English Democrats which firmly believe and advocate such a body. Their support is far less than those of Scottish and Welsh nationalists in the pre-devolution period.

Vino S said...

Sorry, Matt, one more thing.....(am sounding like Lt Columbo there ;)

One of the reasons why John Prescott pushed ahead with an NE devolution referendum was presumably because he felt he could win it - on the basis of a superficial poll or two. However, what happened in the campaign - and this is something you Conservatives should be happy about - is that the Tory-dominated 'No' campaign was more able to make the running - once they had equal time with the 'Yes' case. This is probably the only Tory-dominated campaign that has won in the North-East for ages! Additionally, the Yes vote proved soft - and many voters stayed at home. The campaign - according to a friend who lived in the region - of the NE Assembly 'no' group was to parade a giant papier-mache white elephant and to release balloons full of hot air with banknotes attached - sending the clear msg that they thought an NE Assembly would be an expensive white elephant and unnecessarily duplicate work that could be done by local authorities and by central gov. The same could happen in an English parliament referendum

Toque said...

The Campaign for an English Parliament has come in for criticism from the likes of Prof Robert Hazell (Constitution Unit) for not drawing up plans on how an English parliament would work and operate within a quasi-federal or federal UK.

The reason that we haven't done this is because we don't see that as our job. From the start it has been our position that the Government should consult the English people and ask them how they wish to be governed. This should be acheived by an English constitutional convention followed by a referendum, or series of referendums.

Gordon Brown recognised 'the sovereign right' of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. If Scotland has that right then England does too.

To be opposed to an English parliament is one thing. I can have a pint with those people and agree to disagree. What I find intolerable are people like Gordon Brown who uphold the national rights of one nation in our union of nations and deny another national group. To not put too finer point on it, it is racist.

Anonymous said...

The Tory dominated NE "says" NO Campaign grabbed the media lime light sure enough,but the press was bombarded by supporters of Neil Herron's people's NO campaign and Campaign English Parliament members.
Prescott assured people in the North East that this was to be a non political referendum, but when the tub of lard realized he could not pin down the moving target of Herron's campaign which had been running for 2 years prior to the referendum,he had to create an enemy.A Conservative group was awarded the title and funds of an official opposition.Remember this is the North East and we don't do tories. The Yes Campaigners then jumped on the band wagon and dragged up the miners strike, Jarrow marchers,ship building, poll tax, you name it.
No one has ever been able to find out as to why a non political group such as the people's campaign
was rejected in favour of a tory campaign.
New Labour also sanctioned racism against our fellow English people from the south of England with a campaign of RATS,Rather Arrogant Toff Southerners. They staged a scene of a Braying hooray henry from London getting off the train at Newcastle station, supposedly coming to tell Northerners what to do. I've never ben able to find out who gave the nod to that one either.
Vino claims a referendum on an English Parliament could go the same way as the referendum in the North East. Politicians of all parties have used this "another tier of government" as a cosh to stifle debate.
If you notice not one of them ever suggests that the EU is another tier of government.
tally

Anonymous said...

Vino S:

"I think that if a referendum is not held one way of measuring how important people who want an English parliament see the issue is to see the share of the vote going to parties like the English Democrats which firmly believe and advocate such a body."

Why? Nobody wanted to find out just how many welsh or scottish people actually wanted their respective assembly/parliament before they voted yes or no for them. Why apply these deliberately discriminatory rules ONLY to the English? You are just looking for ways to confuse the debate! We won't be put off! In fact, all people like you do is make us all the more determined!

Vino S:

"Their support is far less than those of Scottish and Welsh nationalists in the pre-devolution period."

When polled 70% of people said they wanted an English parliament! That is far more than the amount of people who voted for the welsh assembly! How many voted for the scotch parliament? I dont think it was 70%. Was it?

Anyway, none of the above has anything to do with English self-determination!
There were no prerequisites to be passed before referenda were held for the scotch parliament and welsh assembly! I ask again. Why should there be prerequisites for the new English parliament referendum? Tell me why the English should not be given the same type of referendum as the welsh and scotch? There is no valid reason!

Anonymous said...

"One of the reasons why John Prescott pushed ahead with an NE devolution referendum was presumably because he felt he could win it"

I doubt it. I think he wanted to do it because he's an overweight, overbaring, slothful, vindictive, insular, spiteful, anti-English imbecile. I think he would've loved to have been the first one to force through THE EUrolanders (NOT HIS) bogus regional assemblies on the English!
And, that is why every English person living loved it when he didn't get his childish way! Get it up yer Prescott!


"what happened in the campaign is that the Tory-dominated 'No' campaign was more able to make the running.

The running? No! You mean that English folks did something about what they saw as flagrant
discrimination! And that was despite new labour getting all the press coverage and having ten times the campiagn money that the no campaign had!
Tory dominated? Ha! ha! I supported the campaign 100% I am not a tory! You were spouting on your website that the only reason the no vote won was because it convinced the people of the NE that the assembly wouldnt have any power! This had nothing to do with any political party. It was all about equity and fairness. Prescott, amongst others, managed to get the backs of the English people of the NE well and truly up! What were you saying about how their are more new labour voters in the NE than tories (on your website). Well, they didnt vote along party lines did they? That is because they are English through and through!

"This is probably the only Tory-dominated campaign that has won in the North-East for ages!

Which just proves that what you said about the people in the NE, i.e. not voting on national lines, was wrong!

"Additionally, the Yes vote proved soft - and many voters stayed at home."

Oh stop trying to make it sound like new labour really didnt lose the vote. They lost the vote! Plain and simple! They were trounced! If people didnt vote yes it's because they didnt want to vote yes. Are you saying that the yes voters couldnt be bothered to go and vote yes? Ha! ha! Thereby implying that if they had gone and voted yes the result would've been different? You're pathetic! "The people" as idiot Blair liked to patronisingly call them voted. You were trounced! Plain and simple! The pro-English NE owns scotch/welch new labour!

"The campaign - according to a friend who lived in the region - of the NE Assembly 'no' group was to parade a giant papier-mache white elephant and to release balloons full of hot air with banknotes attached - sending the clear msg that they thought an NE Assembly would be an expensive white elephant and unnecessarily duplicate work that could be done by local authorities and by central gov"

Is that what new labour are up to? Copying the NE assembly no campaign? Ha! ha! Pathetic!

"The same could happen in an English parliament referendum"

Try it and see what happens!
Anyway, the English parliament won't be able to duplicate anything the Westminster parliament does because the eu are going to abolish the Westminster parliament. Or haven't you realised that yet?