The Debates and the West Lothian Question
Our constitutional structure is in a pickle and I see that the BBC Trust are to hear an appeal from the Nationalists regarding their exclusion (BBC News website 18 April 2010) from the TV debates.
There are a number of issues around the debates in relation to the current constitutional settlement.
- The areas to which the debates were broadcast (the whole of the UK?) do not necessarily match the areas in which the subjects under discussion applied. Most of Home Affairs (education, health etc.) discussed in the first debate have been devolved, but I believe the citizens of Scotland and Wales (and probably Northern Ireland) heard long irrelevant discussions about these issues.
- To the Scots and the Welsh this gives a totally distorted (and potentially incorrect) view of the Conservative, Liberal and Labour policies in those countries and excludes the views of the nationalists who actually run education, health etc., in Scotland and Wales.
- Yet when non-devolved issues are discussed (e.g. Foreign Affairs), we will only hear from three of the parties and yet in a hung parliament the Nationalist input could be as decisive as the Liberal’s input.
Ironically we could end up with a conservative majority in England, but a non-conservative coalition (or supported minority) government in the United Kingdom determining English policy in relation to Education, Health etc.
It’s a funny old world.