Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The "English" Problem.

Most readers of this Blog will be familiar West Lothian Question – named after the constituency whose MP, Tam Dalyell, first raised the problem in 1977 of Members influencing legislation which did not affect their electorate which was used against the devolution referendum  of 1979 and still emerges from time to time as English MPs rightly point out that Welsh and Scottish Mps (Though Northern Ireland MP's are seldom included in this debate) can vote on matters that solely affect England.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said a commission examining whether MPs should be stopped from having a say on issues which do not affect their constituents would be set up later this year.

This at first glance seems fair and in the absence of devolved power to English regions or to establish an English Parliament  seems reasonable; But it will not solve the actual problem and could result in a worse situation

For Christmas my sister give me a T Shirt with "I support two teams Wales  and whoever England are playing." She gave a similar one to a Scottish friend of ours. None of us are Anti-English but we are all exasperated with the media failure to see that England are not the only team in these Islands and that we other national sides should be treated as equals when it comes to reporting.

This will be the problem if the House of Commons becomes effectively an English Parliament as well as an UK one with them  running both in tandem perhaps declaring a colour code system where say English proposals are called Red papers instead of Green and only English MPs (What about the second Chamber?) can vote on it.

But  just as with Sport the media who already have a huge problem with reporting on such issues will naturally fail to distinguish between "English" Law making and UK wide policies.

It will further mean as (already happens but more so) UK General Elections being fought almost completely on English Policies  such as the Health and Education.and there will be no attempt to distinguish the differnce between the devolved powers. There will be chance of English people to have an election solely on English laws so they will be frustrated.

Some might argue that we who called for devolution for Wales and Scotland (again Northern Ireland will not be mentioned) are responsible for this But the responsibility lies in England .

There could be an English Parliament or devolved powers to the regions with a specfic understanding of the position of Cornwall and the creation of a new type of Parliament based on a federal structure  as I've argued in a previous blog here

So the West Lothian Question is now an English Question which the English must resolve themselves perhaps the difference of emphasis  between a overwhelming left of centre Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament and a dogmatic right of centre ConLib government in Westminster may increase a campaign amongst some Labour members for devolved power to the English regions, but I can't see any of the Westminster Tories going for this and the silence from the LIb-Dems formally the most pro devolutionist of the London parties seems deafeningly quiet.


  1. "we other national sides should be treated as equals when it comes to reporting."

    I can understand your frustration, but you're not equal because you're tiny compared to England. Are you seriously suggesting that the BBC ought to put the same resources into coverage of the Welsh football team representing 2.5M people as it does into the English team representing 50M people?

    If that formula is followed then I would like to see Welsh people pay 20x as much licence fee.

    Ideally we in England wouldn't have to sit through sports reports and news about Scotland and Wales.

    Federalism or independence is the answer, then we can finally be shot of each other. But I share your pessimism, Westminster will do all it can to keep England tied down.

  2. Don't you have BBC Wales dedicated to all things Welsh including Sport; plus a Welsh Language Channel? So why complain when the 'not the Welsh BBC' and certainly 'not the Scottish BBC' or even 'Not the Northern Irish BBC' actually highlights the missing piece in the puzzle.

    And you might think your T-Shirt is not anti-English, but of course it is, and not excused by you pretending it isn't.

    Further I am willing to bet that any attempt to prevent the Welsh MPs in the UK Parliament voting on English only matters will fall at the first hurdle. Like the Scottish members who also sanctimoniously claim the moral high ground; they will exempt themselves with the clause 'unless it impacts on Wales (or Scotland).

    Of course with the Barnett Formula, anything spent in England on and for the people of England is considered an expense for further financial benefits to you over and above the block grant.

    You don't really believe they are going to forgo ensuring approval for expenditure in England do you and have to take their hand out of the English Biscuit Barrel for second helpings?

  3. Torque

    Why should size of population matter when it come to reporting on equals.

    On Saturday I can see an emphasis being made on England going for a Six nations Grand Slam but the BBC emphasis and the rest of the London Media has been in them from the start.

    And theres all ways the fact that they refer to the England Cricket team. Its the England and Wales Cricket team.

    But I can see that you ae frustrated by the current political settlement and I wish you well in your efforts to secure a proper distinct voice for your Nation


    I see you are based in Queensland. Would you tolerate New South Wales as being the only voice of Australia this how we feel when England are treated as the only side in the UK. and this breeds the resentment.

    One day I hope to see the end to AEB (Any one but England) but it will be an immense change in the culture and reporting of the London media.

    Recently we in Wales missed the start of a Rugby International because the BBC continued showing a Tennis match. They would never have done that to England and it shows how the regard us,

    You have a point on voting on issues regarding English issues but it must be addressed by either an English parliament or devolved power there.

    Or even Home Rule all Round and we can be Independent Nations.

  4. The people of England have as much interest in Wales and Scotland as they do in their neighbouring county. Following devolution the English roll their eyes with boredom when they watch the news and it says in England and in Wales and in Scotland - the news is now three times more tedious. We English are starting to see the Union as a burden and the anti English abuse we've suffered will soon be reciprocated.

  5. "Why should size of population matter when it come to reporting on equals"

    Because there is no BBC England. The BBC, like the British Government, is a unitary organisation. Ideally the BBC (and Britain itself) would be federated so that Wales can watch Welsh scheduling and England can watch English scheduling. But in the absence of such common-sense it's hardly surprising that the BBC is England-centric, given that 80%+ of its audience lives in England.

    Anyway, I think we're in broad agreement. I'm not a separatist but I'm not a unionist either; I'm a nationalist who believes that the individual peoples of the British Isles are sovereign over Westminster and have the right to chose how they are governed. Direct rule from Westminster (in the case of England) and indirect rule from Westminster (in the case of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is failing us all, particularly England.

  6. Its the England and Wales Cricket Board, but it is the England cricket team

  7. More whining in the hillsides.

    The British media is steadfastly anti-English as is the British Parliament.

    You may delude yourselves into thinking you are not anti-English, but it is patently clear you are. Scotland, Wales and Ireland are institutionally racist towards the English.

    The sooner we are shot of the self-styled Celts and have proper border controls requiring passports between England and everywhere else in the British Isles, the better. It can't come soon enough for me.