CEP Press Release: Tuesday, 15 Jan 2008
Today January 15th behind closed doors in a room in Portcullis House in Westminster in London, England’s capital, six of Scotland’s MPs and MSPs will meet to decide what further powers to give to the Scottish Parliament. England, which makes up 80% of the Union population, has 550 of its 650 MPs and contributes 85% of its wealth, is being totally excluded from the discussions. No English MP is invited. This will be their second meeting, the first was in November of last year
The Scottish Six are: Des Browne Labour MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and (part-time) Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael Lib-Dem MP for Orkney and Shetlands, David Mundell Conservative MP for Dumfrieshire, Clydesdale and Tweesdale, Wendy Alexander Labour MSP for Paisley South, Annabel Goldie Conservative MSP for the West of Scotland and Nicol Stephen Lib-Den MSP for Aberdeen South.
They are meeting in a state of intense inter-party anxiety. One thing unites them, their opposition to the Scottish National Party. The latest You-Gov poll for the Scottish Daily Express has put the SNP nine points ahead of labour in the constituency vote, and of course streets ahead of the Lib-Dem and the Tory parties. They meet under the banner of defence of the Union. Their principal concern however is the survival of their parties in Scotland.
In 1997 the Labour Party led by Scottish MPs Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Donald Dewar, Robin Cook and Des Browne was convinced that a devolved Scottish Parliament would kill off the SNP for good. It did not. The Scottish First Minister is Alex Salmond. They believed that giving to Scotland complete power over all its internal affairs such as health and education would stop the rise of Scottish nationalism in its tracks. It achieved the exact opposite. They believed that keeping the power of Scottish MPs in the Union Parliament to legislate in every single matter for England while excluding English MPs from any say in Scotland’s internal affairs would go unnoticed by the English people. But the last ten years of devolution has dramatically witnessed the biggest rise in English patriotism ever. In addition the resentment of the English people against the rampant injustice inflicted by the 1997 legislation upon them is now filling every MP’s postbag. 58% of English people want Scotland to go independent, 72% want their own separate English Parliament.
The Scottish Six are meeting behind closed doors, no English representation allowed, to decide what extra powers to give to the Scottish Parliament to keep the SNP at bay. What lessons they might have learned over the past ten years are their business. What is England’s business however is the knowledge that these Scottish MPs think they can play fast and loose with United Kingdom constitutional matters without consultation with England which is 80% of the Union. What is England’s business is the sheer brass of these Scottish MPs giving even more powers to Scotland and even less say for England in Scottish matters while keeping for themselves the right to legislate for England in every single thing.
‘The next ten years,’ says Mrs Scilla Cullen, Chairman of the Campaign for an English Parliament, ‘will see all this put right. The constitution of the United Kingdom cannot be made to serve just the interests of Scotland’.