Monday, 23 January 2012
Alex Salmond will soon be pushing the line as to how Scottish independence will benefit the English when he delivers the Hugo Young lecture this week.
His line will give many an English MP food for thought, ‘cos he’ll sort out the West Lothian question for them straight away. Independence, so no more Scottish MPs, full stop.
It’s also this week that Mr Cameron's commission on relations between between the English and MPs from the devolved countries gets underway.
Coincidently, Cardiff University announce a comprehensive study of the English and their attitudes to devolution.
Not suprising they don’t like it. Why? Because they feel they’re missing out, getting a raw deal.
The facts don’t back up this up, by any objective measure England is still the most prosperous of the nations. But, and its a mighty big but, in politics perception is more important than objective reality.
If they think they’re getting a raw deal, a raw deal they're getting. It’s enough of a reality to get English politicians champing at the bit for the government to do something.
Now a commission that reports sometime in the future ain’t going to satisfy back bench Tories. No, they’ll want action this side of the next election.
What action? That’s the question.
Ah, enter stage left Salmond. He offers the solution. No, not necessarily the independence that he and his party crave. But that second question that Mr Cameron doesn’t want on the ballot paper, “devo max.”
The study by Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities show that eight out of ten of those English voters questioned, support full fiscal autonomy. In other words, “devo max.”
At the same time those questioned say that MPs from these devolved countries should not by voting on English laws. So what’s the solution?
There are only two possibilities, either setting up an English Parliament, which Cameron has already ruled out or some other more sustainable arrangement. A Federal system.
Now Carwyn Jones flagged up that new arrangements would have to be made if Scotland left the UK. That may not happen, but the pressure from England may make “devo max” the answer for all the devolved adminstrations. And yes, a new compact between the nations of these islands would then have to be negotiated.
“Devo max” is the last thing that Labour would want for Wales. No longer would the English be bailing Wales out. The country would have to be self sufficient.
Now there’s a challenge for Carwyn Jones, making Wales stand on its own two feet.