The English and the Scots


It seems that others feel as I do about the unfairness of the present system.

I have just received the following e-mail from Steve Uncles about the campaign for an English Parliament.

LORD Tebbit last night led Tory calls in England for a radical “rebalancing” of the post-devolution settlement that would result in Scotland receiving less taxpayers’ money from Whitehall, having even fewer MPs and seeing all its parliamentarians at Westminster banned from participating in England-only bills.

The peer’s belief that the current constitutional set-up is “unsustainable” is shared by a significant group of Tories in London and is coupled with a warning from the opposition’s back benches of the beginnings of an English backlash against Scotland’s current deal in a devolved Britain.

“What you can’t do is expect the people of England to sit back and tolerate this for another five years,” said Boris Johnson, MP for Henley.

Conservative MPs and peers have already begun emphasising the fact that more people south of the border voted Tory than Labour. In his first Commons outing as shadow chancellor on Wednesday, George Osborne boasted: “Our education policies, which were designed for England, received the majority of the votes in England.”

Last week, James Gray, the Glasgow-born Tory MP for North Wiltshire, was sacked as shadow Scottish secretary after David McLetchie, the Scottish Tories’ leader, complained to Michael Howard, that his suggestion the post-devolution settlement could be rewritten went against all the efforts by Tories in Scotland to support the Scottish Parliament.

However, The Herald has found a deal of sympathy for Mr Gray among Conservative MPs at Westminster.

Indeed, the proposal posited by Lord Forsyth, John Major’s Scottish secretary, that the current 129 MSPs should be axed, with Scottish MPs sitting part-time in London and Edinburgh, is clearly finding favour among Tory parliamentarians.

Lord Tebbit said: “I would not have any objection to that at all. It would be less expensive and would probably be a little less scandal-prone than the present Scottish parliament.”

The former Conservative chairman made clear he was against Holyrood and claimed every time Tony Blair spoke about modernisation he went back in time. “We did have two parliaments in the kingdom for a couple of hundred years but that system was abandoned because it did not work. It’s not a very good system.”

He added: “Scotland has retained all the advantages of being in the United Kingdom which has taken into account the various disadvantages which Scotland suffered, so it has retained all the advantages like the Barnett Formula but now has the benefit of its own parliament and legislation. There has to be some rebalancing not least that England is allowed to run its own affairs.”

Lord Tebbit insisted the Barnett Formula would have “to go sooner or later” and, despite the cut in Scottish MPs from 72 to 59, there was still “an electoral bias” towards Scotland.

Mr Johnson described the Forsyth option as “perfectly reasonable”, and suggested the number of Scottish parliamentarians – currently 188 not counting peers – was far too many. “We should take Occam’s razor to the beardy Scots,” he insisted.

He continued: “The only fact you need to understand at the general election is that the people of England voted by a majority for the Tories rather than Labour and yet the Tories have a deficit in England. That’s not equitable.”

LORD Tebbit last night led Tory calls in England for a radical “rebalancing” of the post-devolution settlement that would result in Scotland receiving less taxpayers’ money from Whitehall, having even fewer MPs and seeing all its parliamentarians at Westminster banned from participating in England-only bills.

The peer’s belief that the current constitutional set-up is “unsustainable” is shared by a significant group of Tories in London and is coupled with a warning from the opposition’s back benches of the beginnings of an English backlash against Scotland’s current deal in a devolved Britain.

“What you can’t do is expect the people of England to sit back and tolerate this for another five years,” said Boris Johnson, MP for Henley.

Conservative MPs and peers have already begun emphasising the fact that more people south of the border voted Tory than Labour. In his first Commons outing as shadow chancellor on Wednesday, George Osborne boasted: “Our education policies, which were designed for England, received the majority of the votes in England.”

Last week, James Gray, the Glasgow-born Tory MP for North Wiltshire, was sacked as shadow Scottish secretary after David McLetchie, the Scottish Tories’ leader, complained to Michael Howard, that his suggestion the post-devolution settlement could be rewritten went against all the efforts by Tories in Scotland to support the Scottish Parliament.

However, The Herald has found a deal of sympathy for Mr Gray among Conservative MPs at Westminster.

Indeed, the proposal posited by Lord Forsyth, John Major’s Scottish secretary, that the current 129 MSPs should be axed, with Scottish MPs sitting part-time in London and Edinburgh, is clearly finding favour among Tory parliamentarians.

Lord Tebbit said: “I would not have any objection to that at all. It would be less expensive and would probably be a little less scandal-prone than the present Scottish parliament.”

The former Conservative chairman made clear he was against Holyrood and claimed every time Tony Blair spoke about modernisation he went back in time. “We did have two parliaments in the kingdom for a couple of hundred years but that system was abandoned because it did not work. It’s not a very good system.”

He added: “Scotland has retained all the advantages of being in the United Kingdom which has taken into account the various disadvantages which Scotland suffered, so it has retained all the advantages like the Barnett Formula but now has the benefit of its own parliament and legislation. There has to be some rebalancing not least that England is allowed to run its own affairs.”

Lord Tebbit insisted the Barnett Formula would have “to go sooner or later” and, despite the cut in Scottish MPs from 72 to 59, there was still “an electoral bias” towards Scotland.

Mr Johnson described the Forsyth option as “perfectly reasonable”, and suggested the number of Scottish parliamentarians – currently 188 not counting peers – was far too many. “We should take Occam’s razor to the beardy Scots,” he insisted.

He continued: “The only fact you need to understand at the general election is that the people of England voted by a majority for the Tories rather than Labour and yet the Tories have a deficit in England. That’s not equitable.”

If anything develops, I will blog again!

Andrew

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  1. #1 by Andrew on Friday, 3 June 2005 - 5:23 pm

    There will be more like this as I get more angry at the way they interfere with this country.Andrew very ex Scot Taylor.

  2. #2 by Toque on Sunday, 29 May 2005 - 6:29 pm

    If you want to post more article like that then please do and I’ll stick you on the CEP blogroll.

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