Archive for July, 2012

Labour for independence

Whilst Ed Miliband has been campaigning for the Union it would seem that some of his party in Scotland have different ideas.

A ‘Labour for Independence’ group has established itself in Scotland. It is difficult to measure the extent of support within the Labour party for its aims, but they are pushing for a proper debate within the Scottish Labour Party.

They’ve just launched a website called Labour for Independence and are pushing the Scottish Labour Party to allow members a vote on the issue. 

They’re campaigning to shift Labour’s stance in Scotland from pro union to that of backing independence in the 2014 referendum.

The Labour machine not surprisingly say that the organisation lacks any real support amongst the membership. And they are probably right, in as much that most of the Labour members who held such views would have drifted to the SNP over the years. 

But those behind the organisation  say ‘In the last month, we have gained 24,000 Facebook viewers, created our own website, which after one week has more than 2,000 hits.’

Many Labour members feel a sense of unease that former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, the man leading Better Together, the official campaign for Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom, is involved in a cross party campaign with Scotland’s Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Liberal Democrat, Willie Rennie. 

Scotland today, Wales tomorrow? Unlikely, Labour here is far more wedded to the union. 

But if there was a referendum on independence for Wales all bets would be off. There are a number of Labour members that would likely campaign for a ‘yes’ vote.

Indeed if a group was established by Labour members it would cause real problems to Plaid Cymru. Under Leanne Wood’s leadership Plaid has positioning itself on the left of Welsh politics. 

If a large group of Labour members were pushing for independence, where would that leave Plaid Cymru. Those left wing members of Plaid Cymru who left Labour primarily because it refused to consider independence might be tempted back to their natural political home. 

OK, not an immediate prospect I grant you. But who knows, if Scotland becomes independent the pressure would build up in Wales for a similar referendum. After all Wales tend to follow the lead of those north of the border, all be it, a few years later. 

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Tory members have question mark about PM

It’s a sure sign that the skids are under a leader when polls are conducted on your likely successor. So this weekend made difficult reading for David Cameron. 

Boris ‘ Mayor of London’ Johnson according to yesterday’s Independent  is the favourite amongst grass root Tories to succeed Cameron. 

About a third of Tory activists want him in contrast to only a quarter wanting his nearest rival William Hague. 

George Osborne gets 2%. This is such a fall from grace for the man that was regarded as the Prime Minister in waiting. A reflection that even Tory members don’t think he now cuts the mustard.

But, perhaps, of greater worry to the PM is the fact that less than half of the members want him to lead them into the general election. Indeed they don’t rate the party’s chances of retaining power after the next election.

Now when party activists don’t think their party will win, it’s sure sign that the party is in serious difficulties. 

And little wonder. 

The economic strategy of the government is looking very threadbare. There is little sign of recovery. Indeed, the opposite, the economy continues in a downward spiral.

Ed Miliband is beginning to gain in confidence and is often getting under Cameron’s skin in their weekly exchanges at the Commons. The coalition is looking increasingly fragile with many Tory backbenchers working for its demise.

Unless the economy recovers, and there is no sign of that happening, the Prime Minister looks increasingly vulnerable.

Unlike Labour, the Conservatives have a ruthless streak. They’ll not hesitate to put the knife in. There is no way that they’ll not deal with a leader that’s leading them to defeat. 

Many saw what happened to Labour when the party prevaricated and failed to remove Gordon Brown. Election defeat. The Tories won’t let this happen to them.

It must be some comfort to Cameron that Boris’s not in the Commons and his term of Office runs until after the next general election. 

But in politics obstacles can be removed. So who knows Boris may yet again return to the Commons. 

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A constitutional anomaly

The admission by Kim Howells that the Labour government steered away from difficult questions on devolution is stating the bleeding obvious. 

Devolution policy with regards to Wales was a case of as little as possible. And as slowly as possible. 

The West Lothian question has always been a side show. With the sheer size of the English House of Commons can anyone really think that MPs from English constituencies wouldn’t get their way if it mattered

Politicians whose collective noses were put out of joint by the new settlements, were those representing Welsh and Scottish seats. They found themselves in Westminster unable to take decisions on those issues that mattered to their constituents, health education, housing etc. 

To them a real issue. If they worked anywhere else with such a large part of the job vanishing they would be made redundant. But politicians look after their own, so they were kept on. 

Now here’s the rub they can’t vote on Welsh and Scottish issues so they make mischief by voting on English-only matters. As most of these are not conservative MPs their voting record has got the Shire Tories up in arms. Hence Cameron agreeing to the McKay Commission.

The truth of the matter is that adjustments were made in Scottish representation in Westminster when the Scottish parliament was established. The same will be true of Wales if the new constituency structure comes into place and the number of MPs are reduced from 40 to 30. So in voting terms the West Lothian issue is really not worthy of the attention it’s given.

Constitutional scholars used to praise the British constitution for its flexibility. It was unwritten. Full of anomalies. Of which the West Lothian issue was an example. 

The McKay commission would by better occupied in taking a look at the UK constitution in the light of devolution. It should stop wasting its time on looking at who in parliament has a say on what. 

Attention should be given to how the countries of these isles relate to one another and how they consent to be ruled in future. Real subjects for a Commission

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