Sunday, 29 July 2007

It isn't negative to challenge this unfairness

This has just been posted on Our Kingdom:

Mike Small (Lessons in Democracy and Self-Determination) makes some valid points about pushing forward the case for an English Parliament.

I firmly agree that the case for an English Parliament needs to be put in a way that demonstrates how good it would be for England. The Scottish Claim of Right was an incredibly powerful statement, loaded with intent and meaning, and clearly expressed what the whole movement for constitutional change in Scotland was all about. The English Constitutional Convention (ECC) has convened twice since its creation in 2004, and now boasts the support of leading Scottish-devolution campaigner, Canon Kenyon Wright. A similar “English Claim” has yet to be stated by the ECC, but seeing as our new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, signed the Scottish Claim of Right- pledging that the interests of the Scottish people (not the British people) would be “paramount” in all his “actions and deliberations”, an English Claim of Right is surely soon to be made.

Mike’s point about icons and identity is also important. It is only since devolution that the English have really begun to question who we are and what it means to be English rather than British. A sense of English identity is and will continue to be a powerful factor in the campaign for justice for England. But it was only when Scotland and Wales began to re-assert their separate identities and demand political institutions to reflect this that people in England have done so. It’s in this point that something important must be recognised: demands for real devolution in England are a reaction to devolution elsewhere. It is because of this that the debate can appear to be negative; we are often calling for an English Parliament in the same breath as complaining about how we are missing out compared to the Scots. But don’t forget that it is not enough to just state that an England’s Parliament is England’s right- that would not convince the public. We have to validate our demands for an English Parliament by highlighting how England is disadvantaged by asymmetrical devolution. English students pay university fees (Scottish students do not), English cancer patients have to go without life-saving cancer drugs (Scottish patients do not), English pensioners often have to sell their homes to afford personal care (Scottish pensioners do not- the list goes on). If this means some people feel this is being negative, or even label us as “anti-Scottish”, they are missing the point. We in England feel aggrieved at the current state of affairs, and such blatant unfairness cannot go unchallenged.

At the second meeting of the English Constitutional Convention, Canon Kenyon Wright said that devolution in Scotland happened for two fundamental reasons: “First, because we rediscovered something about our own heritage… But second, because of things like the poll tax. In other words the Scottish people saw that measure after measure after measure was being imposed upon them against the manifest will of at least 80% of Scottish MPs and Scottish opinion”.

Devolution in England will undoubtedly be much the same

Get on to Our Kingdom and have your say.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Boris for mayor?

I think it's more than likely that Boris will run for London Mayor, seeing as his Henley constituents have made it clear they support him.

Boris Johnson, as readers will know from previous posts, is very clued-up on English issues, such as how life-saving drugs are available free in Scotland but not in England

If he does run for Mayor, he has a great chance of winning. Depsite Ken's position, the Tories are the biggest single party on the Greater London Authority (GLA), running a minority administration. If they had just one more seat, they would be strong enough to block the Mayor's budget.

A Tory-controlled London would be a big step towards winning power at the next General Election, and the possibilty of implementing English Votes on English Matters (which we all know would fail, and would leave the Conservatives having to accept the idea of a proper English Parliament).

But Boris as London Mayor would also mean that London would become his focus. No more speaking-out on English issues, such as the Barnett Formula and cross-border unfairness in the NHS.

There's a lot at stake.