EVEL

One of the mantras of the Better Together campaign before the Scottish independence referendum was that Scotland had “the best of both worlds“. I held the opposite view that a halfway devolution was worse than both devo max or full independence and no devolution at all.

July’s altercations about English Votes for English Laws confirmed this to me. The proposals angered the SNP, Scottish Lib Dems, even several English Tories, and the Government was forced, despite having overall majority, to at least amend and delay its plans.

And no bloody wonder. As long as you have neither a devolved English parliament, nor Scottish and Welsh ones with full fiscal autonomy, you can’t credibly argue that any bill with budgetary implications is purely ‘English’. (It gets even crazier with also having ‘English and Welsh only’ bills.) Not to mention the ludicrous idea that the decision which bills would qualify would rely solely on the Speaker’s discernment.

The only good thing about the proposals was that it brought some fun when the Leader of the House of Commons informed an SNP member that among the bills which would affect only England and Wales was the Scotland Bill.
 

Postscript, 31/10/15: They voted it through anyway. Which brings up another question: why do the Tories need this law, when they can push through what they like without it? Yes, there’s the possibility of Labour getting back to power thanks to Scottish seats, with Tories keeping a majority of English MPs; then again, such a Labour government could simply repeal the law, couldn’t it?

 

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