Thursday, 22 January 2015

Call-me-Dave pops in for tea

Today David Cameron is visiting Scotland for the first time since the referendum, presumably in connection with the production of the draft legislation resulting from the Smith Commission recommendations, which is expected to be published today.  Coinciding with it, Downing Street have confirmed George Osborne's remarks from earlier in the week, saying that Scottish MPs would have their role reduced in Westminster, in that they will not be permitted to vote on matters of taxation that do not affect Scotland.

In principle I, along with most Scots, don't have a problem with English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).  It's only fair that we don't vote on matters which don't affect us.  The difficulty, however, is in identifying such matters, since many pieces of legislation which look on the surface to exclude Scotland actually do have an effect through the Barnet consequentials.

Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon gave an example of this, saying that the SNP would, for example, consider voting on legislation to stop privatisation of the NHS in England in Wales, even though Scotland has its own devolved NHS, if this would result in more public funding of the NHS in England in Wales and therefore in Scotland through Barnet consequentials.  This has, of course, been interpreted as the SNP showing willingness to interfere in 'English' matters and howled down.

Imagine an action movie, about three quarters of the way in.  The hero and some sidekicks are trapped in a building which has suffered huge damage of some kind.  We see our doughty crew in a room, staying still and listening.  There are groans and screeches as the building starts to settle, and a moment of drama when a roof beam starts to collapse but miraculously stops before anyone is injured.  You know, however, that it's only a matter of time before the building collapses completely.  This, for me, is the current state of the UK.

Will our merry band get out before the building is reduced to rubble?  Stay tuned...


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