CK on the Union

by Stephen Tall on October 31, 2007

Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has an article on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free website taking apart Malcolm Rifkind’s Tory proposals to create an English ‘grand committee’ to legislate on wholly English domestic policies.

You can read it in full here. Here’s an extract:

As a Scot, representing a Scottish constituency for almost the past 25 years, I do not harbour an overweening ambition to pronounce on each and every matter exclusively English. But I have always had a sense that our essentially make-it-up-as-you-go-along unwritten constitution is rather like one of those water mattresses – push down on one part and you can guarantee a reaction, somewhat unpredictable, elsewhere. The difference here is that the reaction will be entirely predictable: the creation of the most unholy of all political alliances, Tory unionist and Scottish Nationalist, conniving together in a process which drives a wedge between Westminster and Scotland, weakening the positive strengths of the Union in the process.

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6 comments

robbo’s comment hits the mark: ‘ . . The pressure for independence is really going to come from England.’

by Chris Squire on October 31, 2007 at 11:16 am. Reply #

Right, i am launching a campaign.

In a previous post, entitled “Which shadow cabinet job should Charles get?” I wrote that he should be put in charge of constitutional issues because he is probably the best person in the country, let alone the party to drag constiutional reform up the public agenda.

This is more evidence of why he would be so good at it.

Therefore, I would like everyone to put pressure on Huhne/Clegg to seriously consider this proposal.

Bring it up at hustings, write to them, tell their campaign teams. I think putting charles in this position is a golden opportunity for the party and the country that cannot be missed.

by Dominic Hannigan on October 31, 2007 at 11:31 am. Reply #

Am I missing something in the subtext? Broadly what Kennedy has said is party policy, i.e. we want a constitutional convention to review these matters.

That doesn’t rule in or out any proposals that might resolve or fudge the West Lothian question on the anomaly of Scottish votes on exclusively English matters while English votes are excluded from similar competencies in Scotland.

While our mechanism for deciding is correct, it doesn’t indicate a preference for answering the question.

‘What do want… a big committee’, is not exactly brave or outside our comfort zones is it?

by Andy Mayer on October 31, 2007 at 12:54 pm. Reply #

@Andy: When I read it through, the policy I voted for called for a constitutional convention but also set out a series of proposals to be put before it. ie we back this, but want to get the assent of the nation not just the membership. That’s something I wholeheartedly support, and was backing a long time before I joined the party.

I favour localism, with counties or new regions/provinces taking up responsibilities from Westminster. I want to take power from Whitehall, the Tory proposal is constitutionally illiterate, and an EP would be even more damaging.

@Dominic. I agreed with you before, I agree now, CK really ought to be put in a role where he can ake a serious mark, and this has to be an essential role for us, we’re the only party with proposals that aren’t back-of-a-fag packet cobbled together nonsense.

by MatGB on October 31, 2007 at 1:56 pm. Reply #

Matt, I also don’t see much point in a seperate English Parliament, it’d be an expensive contrivance, but what is the argument against restricting votes on exclusively English matters to English MPs, now we have devolution?

by Andy Mayer on October 31, 2007 at 3:25 pm. Reply #

What is the Liberal Democrat policy on devolution?

Is it still regional assemblies? Won’t that be more expensive than one English Parliament which could be dovetailed into Westminster?

And if it is regional assemblies what powers would they have in comparison to Scotland since it has its own legal system?

by Curious Kate on October 31, 2007 at 10:43 pm. Reply #

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