Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Mixed Mandates

Today’s Independent (10 July 2013 ) reports:

English MPs are to be given the power to “veto” Westminster laws that do not relate to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, as part of sweeping constitutional reforms being drawn up by ministers.
Under proposals currently being finalised and expected to be announced in the autumn, English MPs would be able to reject legislation on devolved issues such as education, the NHS, transport and the environment, even if it had been passed by a majority of all MPs in the House of Commons.
Oliver Wright: English revolution in House of Commons: Plan to give England’s MPs right to veto on issues not affecting Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

I fail to see how this is actually going to improve the situation and suspect the Tories know this and might be planning mischief.

Why the thought of mischief being afoot?

If the Conservatives have a majority in the UK Parliament, it is virtually certain that they will also hold a majority of English seats and can therefore implement their (hopefully coherent) manifesto across all policy areas.  This is because of their inability to win many seats outside England resulting in a skew of their representation towards England.

If Labour were to have a majority in the UK Parliament, there is a distinct chance that they will not hold a majority of English seats (due to much of their “majority” arising in Scotland and Wales) and will therefore not be able to command a majority for parts of their manifesto.  This not only will allow the Conservatives to make mischief with policy areas like (English) health and education, but to also cause knock-on effects in other policy areas.  The Conservatives will then claim that Labour is incompetent because they are incapable of implementing their manifesto.  I would not want to be a Labour Education or Health Secretary.

This suggestion is, as others have suggested, hare-brained and does not address the underlying question that was raised by Tam Dalyell in 1977.

We are trying to have a half-devolved federal structure – which is a nonsensical as being half-pregnant.  You are either fully devolved or you are not devolved.

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