The Lion and the Unicorn


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Saturday, July 19, 2003

West Lothian Question - 19th July 2003, 23.40

The West Lothian question has come home to roost with the vote on 'foundation hospitals' that was only won for Labour through the support of Scottish MPs. Tam Dalyell sounded suitably prophetic, Liam Fox presented himself in whinging mode but the most uncomfortable stance was put forward by Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South:

But a Scottish Labour spokesman said: "It has always been the case that MPs sent to Westminster will be entitled and expected to vote on all issues."

Anne Begg, Labour MP for Aberdeen South, said it was ridiculous to suggest MPs should only vote on matters affecting their constituents.

She said: "That is a nonsense because it means government would not be able to govern Northern Ireland, for instance, where there are no Labour MPs.

"This is a national government, a UK government, and we legislate for things that come before the House of Commons."

Ms Begg said both the Scottish National Party and Scottish Liberal Democrats voted against the government in the Commons on Tuesday.

She added: "It works both ways - if there are people voting against the government from the other parties in Scotland, then it's perfectly legitimate for the government's MPs to do it."

Anne Begg's statement is correct in that the current convention remains in place but does not address the underlying principle whereby representatives have the power to play a pivotal role on English and Welsh matters that would not be the case if the roles were reversed.

If the next election reduces the Labour majority, then this question may become an 'issue' - it isn't yet. The roles of the parties will then come into play. Peter Duncan, Scotland's only Tory MP abstained on principle. As there's only one of him, that stand costs very little for the party. The SNP voted on the grounds that the policy coudl have implications for the Barnett formula. The hypocrites will have to pay for their lipservice to devolution, since they derive some satisfaction of playing a pivotal role at Westminster whilst removing Scotland from English oversight. The Liberal Democrats respect the conventions and recognise the problem - asymmetric devolution.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Free Care for the Aged: Socialism in Action - 13th November 2002, 21.44

There is nothing more saintly than offering free care for old age pensioners in their own homes and residential/nursing establishments.

But, like all socialistic endeavours, the Scottish Executive appear to have underestimated the number of elderly who would take advantage of this benefit. The allocation to the Highland Council has proved insufficient by £300,000 leading to those bureaucratic standbys: the waiting list and rationing. Only these idiots would wish to emulate the success of the NHS in other areas and more scottish councils will encounter the same problem.

Welsh Assembly falters - 13th November 2002, 21.35

Mike German, Lib Dem leader and Minister for economic development has come to the startling conclusion that the Welsh Assembly is limited by its lack of law-making powers. It is unable to bring in the reforms: tuition fees, free long-term care and proportional representation in local elections that allow these economies to maintain their collectivist ways on English largesse.

How sad that political parties in these countries have turned into insidious intermediaries recycling tax money for their pet projects.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

A busy week for Wales

The assembly refused to move its local election dates to please No. 10 and raise the profile of the 2004 European Elections.

Rhodri Morgan recognised that the Welsh assembly is still unloved by the Welsh and that his administration had managed to provide free bus passes for the aged and disabled. The Tories called for his resignation and demanded that the new Assembly building would look better as a car park. However, Nick Bourne failed the test by demanding the money went to new children's hospital replacing the efforts of the local community to raise the money through subscription and charity.

How can local communities gain a stake in their institutions and understand the cost if their philanthropy is usurped by the state. Better a local hospital that could opt out of the NHS.
Liberal Democratic Conference 3rd November 2002, 20.00

Jim Wallace, leader of the Liberal Democrats, announced at their autumn conference that they should increase their representation in Holyrood next year. To further their "radical agenda", they would introduce a gap year between nursury school and primary school. They would also defend Scottish fishing interests although how they will square this with their undying love of Brussels is a challenge.

Former chief executive, Andy Myles, stated that the Lib Dems should support the EU in order to secure the ecological reputation of the Scottish fishing industry which is, of course, more important than its continued existence.
The Auld Alliance: Teaching 3rd November 2002

Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, defended the 35 hour week that she instituted for teachers, even though it has resulted in a reduction of extracurricular activities and parent/teacher meetings. Teaching in Scotland follows the same process of capture by the professional interests under the promotion of the public sector with the Lib/Lab coalition. Ms Jamieson also announced the thoughtful ways that she could spend more of her subvention.

More signs of the dependency culture.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Lords reform

The commission under Jack Cunningham is divided over the options for the House of Lords with an elected component ranging from 20% to 80% of the House. There is also significany division over the role of the Second Chamber.

The guardian emphasises the possible regional components of the new chamber. It appears that there will be divisions between the Lords who favour appointees and the Commons who favour elected members. Moreover, it is rumoured that the Government favours an election for the Upper House at the next General Election allowing a Lords of the same political hue as the Commons. There will be many ructions between the 'appointed peers' and the 'elected peers' schools in the parties especially as possible free votes will turn up in November and the imbalances within the constitution have not been properly debated.
Talking Shop

Plaid Cymru has demanded a debate on the Iraqi crisis in the Welsh assembly and has been criticised for wasting time by both the Conservatives and Labour.

In this instance, Plaid Cymru is attempting to extend the role of the chamber as a debating space for Wales and as an attempt to articulate a Welsh response to serious affairs. As the assembly now exists, it would appear that one of its national roles does lie in holding debates on serious issues that affect Wales even if they fall outside the remit of its powers; a wider 'voice' for Wales than one laid down in the law.
Another example of the Scottish subsidy culture

Like beggars fighting for crumbs, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities states that it faces a £400m shortfall and that the goverment has retained funds for their own priorities. No ideas on how to cut down on waste or provide value for the hardpressed taxpayer.
EU destroys Scottish fishing fleet

It appears that Franz Fischler, EU Commissioner, has demanded a total ban on cod fishing in the North Sea to replenish stocks. Result: the Scottish fishing fleet would die over the next half decade leaving the seas clear for our Med neighbours. Response from the Scottish administration: None.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Labour and Tories both make mistakes

New Labour was seen to endorse a single candidate, Bill Miller, for the rankings on the party lists in the European elections of 2004, leading to squeals of pain from the other possible MEPs standing. The Tories backed an Asian candidate in Glasgow, Ashraf Anjum, after his gifts to members of his community to join the Conservative Party were interpreted as bribes. Simon Woolley, national co-ordinator of Operation Black Vote said that whites had been doing it for years, so that's all right then.
Another step forward for the Highlands

The Scottish Parliament is willing to accept petitions in Gaelic as well as those other well-known Scots languages: Urdu, Cantonese and Punjabi.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Peter meets Rhodri

Fulsome and bland.
After New Labour

The title of a new conference in Scotland attended by George Galloway, Andy Gilchrist, the Firefighters leader and Scottish Labour Party chairman: Richard Leonard. Note the connections betweeen the Scottish establishment and the radical left-wing, that is not replicated in England or Wales.
Scotland: Green Party depends upon tactical voting

The Green Party is putting forward 68 candidates on the regional lists for the next election and hope to raise their representation from 1 to 8. Minor parties are concentrating on the regional lists and the second vote in order to raise their presence, which could spell diminished numbers for the Lib Dems, Tories and the SNP.

Friday, October 25, 2002

<Citizenship rights are perversely reaffirmed

The court case brought by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, confirmed that foreign nationals could be detained indefinitely under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2002 "if they are considered a threat to national security". Lord Woolf pointed out that foreign nationals could be deported whereas British nationals could not, a crucial difference in considering their rights and Britain's security needs.

Liberty does point out that this is the re-introduction of internment for foreign nationals, like Abu Qatada, the notorious European ambassador for Al-Qaeda. He can always leave, but who would have him.
Doubts over Hain

Rhodri Morgan found little problem co-ordinating his policies with Paul Murphy, as they shared an office at Wesminster. However, Hain was the campaign manager for Alun Michael in 1998-1999, and could pose a problem for his future enthusiasms in the campaign of 2003 for the Welsh Assembly.
Reid lined up for Scottish election - October 25th 2002

John Reid, as the new Labour Party Chairman, knew McConnell at Stirling University and shares his dislike for the Chancellor. In his role as co-ordinator for the party leaders in the devolved regions, Reid will have an influence on the way that the Scottish election is won and appears to strengthen the ties between the metropolitan headquarters, the PM and the regions.