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The political Laurel and Hardy effect

Simon Campion-Brown continues to take the tablets

I watched the report upon yesterday’s Commons session on Scottish devolution, and especially its ramifications, on the BBC 6 o’ Clock News last night – the highlight of which was a speech by the revitalised former Premier Gordon Brown, building upon his intervention in the Scottish independence campaign.

Let’s get straight to the point.

The whole concept of devolution within the United Kingdom is fraught with difficulties – all of them to do with principle, contrary to the accusations our Westminster politicians are currently flinging at one other with such glee at the moment – and should never have been allowed to become active in the first place.

Yes, that’s right, I’m blaming Tony Blair for this one, along with everything else that’s ever gone wrong. And why not? He’s become a perfect scapegoat for for all our ills. Now and again you need one of those.

It is an inescapable fact that the inevitable consequence of devolving any political powers at all is, of course, independence. How anyone didn’t realise that at the outset – or even before the outset – beats me. They must all be thick.

Either that, or they knew exactly what they were doing and deliberately laid the devolution ‘mine’ so that the next generation of politicians would have a huge mess to clear up.

However, once the genie is out of the bottle – that’s the end of the matter, of course.  And that’s why I am a supporter of ‘English votes on English issues’.

My reasoning is nothing to do with political/electoral advantage. Frankly, Labour (and any other party opposing it) are the ones deploying naked political self-interest … not the Tories … because (the bottom line is) they wish to defend the status quo and maintain the current, manifestly illogical and unfair, set-up. Because it suits them.

Seriously – in all honesty – how can any Scot demand that powers previously exercised by Westminster should be devolved  ‘so that the Scots themselves can decide Scottish matters’ then turn around and simultaneously purport to deny the English the exclusive right to decide English ones?

It’s not so much the old Marie Antoinette theme of “Let them eat cake”, but ‘them’ having their cake and eating it. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and so on …

Anyone who argues different is either hypocritical or stupid.

It would be the equivalent of the Tory Party under David Cameron successfully renegotiating a whole slew of rights and powers away from the EU back to Westminster before 2017 … yes, I know there’s bugger-all chance of that happening in real life, but please bear with me for the sake of this example … and then turning round to the EU commission and saying “Oh, and by the way, you cannot devise and implement new laws for the other 27 countries in the EU without our say-so either …”

The response from the EU would be short, sweet and quite possibly anatomically impossible.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this is just one more fine mess our politicians have got us into.

My anxiety this morning stems from the suspicion that they haven’t got the brainpower, ingenuity or spunk to sort it out.

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About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts