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Time is running out for the UK

Below are two articles, the 1st  article is from the Campaign for an English Parliament written in February 2015 and sent to numerous media outlets. The 2nd article is by Stephen Daisley, written yesterday at the SNP manifesto launch. All we ask is that you take note of the title of the SNP manifesto ‘Stronger for Scotland’ and remember how unfair the Barnett formula is to the English taxpayer. Now, more than ever before the people of England need a politician to stand up and start speaking on their behalf.

Eddie Bone

Campaign for an English Parliament

Time is running out for the UK

 

As the SNP’s influence grows stronger day by day, the feeling that the English are being left in a UK/political “no-man’s land” is increasing. This English anger stems from the SNP’s growing political strength and from the British political establishments failure to address the injustices felt by the people of England. For example, none of the British political parties produce a manifesto on English policies.

The British Governments complacency is playing into the SNP’s hands, as Westminster continues to score own goals by ignoring the sense of fair play usually associated with the people of England. Placating the SNP has not shot Scottish independence stone-dead and has in fact had the opposite effect, driving the English to want an independence movement themselves. If this occurs it would be the end for the British Government.

The crafty SNP have recently out-manoeuvred the Unionists by changing tact – they allowed us all to believe that they treated England as a separate country, no different to them from any other country from around the world. It was easy to believe that English Politics was not in the remit of SNP policy! But now that has changed and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is about taking as much of England’s wealth as they can in the process of gaining their independence. The new message Nicola Sturgeon wishes to put across to both the English and the Scottish public is that the SNP will put Scotland’s future First in England”. They know if they continue with this rhetoric that their words will be recognised in England as the SNP gaining as many concessions as possible from a weak British Government.

The hypocrisy of the SNP is clear to see, who so vigorously object to any non-Scottish commentary on their own national situation, yet see fit to pass judgement and influence the way England is governed. The SNP do not have the moral right to ‘descend upon’ England and tell the English how they should be governed or taxed!

The solution, however, is simple. The British system must re-establish fairness and equality into political arrangements that affect all nations of the UK – not just the Celtic ones. This should be easy to implement as the English have always had a strong sense of right and wrong. The real problem, however, is not the SNP’s political stirrings but the party political infighting at Westminster which is undermining the creation of an English parliament. This lack of agreement is damaging the Union.

If Westminster corrected our undemocratic, unbalanced Union – by giving England its own government within a federal system – then the SNP would be blocked from involving themselves in English affairs. This has to be the way forward for the UK but if it is not started before the election then we are all in uncharted waters as the SNP could easily become ‘King makers’.

We all have to accept that the UK might break up if the constitutional absurdity of Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalist parties voting on English only legislation continues. The break-up of the UK is a sobering thought, but if English governance is not urgently addressed then it seems inevitable that it will become a reality. This is because the English rightly feel that they are increasingly ignored when the question of fair governance linked to taxation is discussed.

So who wouldn’t be upset in England by the current settlement? It only takes the merest mention in public that English Students are over burdened with tuition fees; that the elderly in England need to use their life’s savings to pay for Care; that the sick in England need to pay for their prescription medication and you realise that the current situation cannot continue!

This is all happening while funding in Scotland is protected. However, the SNP’s greed will not harm them but instead it will most probably be the undoing of the UK. Otherwise they would not feel the need to come to England to vote on English matters and attempt to squeeze the pennies out of English taxpayers. They should govern Scotland and leave England alone. If they cannot resist that temptation then an English government would be able to stop them, saving the UK in the process.

 

Analysis: Nicola Sturgeon unveils her manifesto for England

By Stephen Daisley
20 April 2015 20:15 BST

Nicola Sturgeon: Wooing the English centre-left.© STV

Something extraordinary happened today.

The leader of a political party pitched her election manifesto almost exclusively to people who don’t live here and can’t vote for her.

Such is the intensity of Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign of love-bombing England that Scotland was almost a side note at the SNP manifesto launch on Monday.

For the First Minister’s speech, delivered amid the towering rock faces of Edinburgh International Climbing Arena for the benefit of those who like their metaphors sledgehammer-subtle, was directed at people south of the border.

Scotland has all but elected its 55 SNP MPs by this point. The people Sturgeon has to win over are those centre-left voters in the rest of the country. Their support will be her leverage over a weak Labour government as much as any parliamentary arithmetic.

But until now, their image of Scottish Nationalism has been the eternally, inexplicably satisfied coupon of Alex Salmond. The dawning of the Sturgeon Era has replaced an angry middle-aged man with a young, dynamic, amiable woman as the symbol of the SNP.

That shone through her speech almost as luridly as the canary-yellow backdrop to the proceedings at Ratho.

I hate to disappoint Iain Martin but there was no Leni Riefenstahl abseiling with a shoulder-mounted DV camera while Stewart Hosie stood off-stage bawling “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein zwei Referenden”. (Though once the cameras were switched off a lederhosen-and-fishnets clad Angus Robertson did give a particularly rousing rendition of “Springtime for Hitler”.)

Instead, there was a personal appeal to voters across the United Kingdom.

She said: “Even though you can’t vote SNP, your views do matter to me. And you have a right to know what to expect of my party if the votes of the Scottish people give us influence in a hung parliament. So my promise to you is this: If the SNP emerges from this election in a position of influence, we will exercise that influence responsibly and constructively. And we will exercise it in the interests of people, not just in Scotland, but across the UK.”

To this end, the SNP would “make common cause and build alliances with others of like mind” to shift the political centre of gravity to the left. Nationalist MPs, the shiny manifesto said, would vote to end austerity, increase NHS spending across the UK by £24bn by 2020/21, and hike the minimum wage to £8.70 within five years. They would furthermore scrap Britain’s nuclear deterrent, abolish the “bedroom tax”, back EU membership and immigration, and push for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

The whole manifesto reads like the Guardian letters page printed on glossier paper.

And as if that wasn’t enough, she brought her party into line with policies where Labour has been to the left of the SNP. Having previously committed to restoration of the 50% tax rate, she now confirmed the Nationalists would back Labour’s mansion tax and tax on bankers’ bonuses.

She did everything but uncork a spicy red, put Barry White on shuffle, and whisper sweet nothings in lefty Britain’s collective ear.

For some, it will be hard to buy Sturgeon’s claim that she wants to do what’s in the best interests of the UK. The first, last, and evermore principle of the SNP, after all, is the demolition of the United Kingdom. The only question is whether longer or shorter-term tactics are best employed to achieve this end.

This may be true and her commitment to progressive solidarity across the nations and regions of a country she tried to dismantle may ring implausible. But just over two weeks from now, Sturgeon will in all likelihood hold the balance of power at Westminster. Plausibility is nice and all but it’s got nothing on 50ish seats in the House of Commons.

Labour strategists think they can govern as a minority and dare the Nationalists to vote them down. Sturgeon’s tactic is to present her party as a natural ally of Labour and dare Ed Miliband to rebuff them. The Westminster political class has come to realise that Nicola Sturgeon is more likeable than any of them. What they’re about to learn is that she’s smarter, shrewder, and wilier too.

In government in Edinburgh, the SNP has overseen 100,000 cuts to college places and a 7000 plummet in staff numbers, an NHS failing to meet its A&E targets, and a council tax freeze which “disproportionally benefits the wealthy”. Yet Sturgeon is able to present hers as the party of improving public services, reducing inequality, and progressive politics.

Call it hypocrisy. Call it chutzpah. But it is a skill that she has in spades at a time of widespread cynicism about politicians and their candour.

It is not that Scotland has “gone mad”, or at least not any more than Britain did for New Labour in 1997. Indeed, that comparison is useful for understanding the phenomenon at play north of the border. After 18 years of Tory government, the UK (including Scotland) wanted to believe in Tony Blair so much that it built him up as a near-messiah figure, a pedestal from which the only way was down.

People in Scotland want to believe. Not only and perhaps not even in independence but in a personality politician and a movement that makes them feel empowered. The SNP says things don’t have to be this way, another country is possible. Like New Labour, the SNP will do some good and it will make some mistakes but in the end it will leave people feeling let down. Such is the way of it when parties are swept to power on the unscalably high expectations of voters who are more optimistic than realistic.

That is why the oil price collapse hasn’t dented the SNP’s support. It is why the Nationalists can demand full fiscal autonomy immediately then, when a £7.6bn black hole is found, change the name to “full financial responsibility” and say not to worry because it would take years to implement anyway. It is why Sturgeon can promise a “once in a generation” referendum in 2014 and have changed her mind by 2015.

The public has made up its mind and won’t be reasoned with. Take your inconvenient facts and shove them.

Monday’s speech reminded us of something else: Sturgeon is pure class. In taking questions from journalists, she warned her activists and candidates to treat the media “respectfully” and recognise that reporters have a right and duty to “scrutinise” SNP policies. Where Salmond would have played to the crowd, she spoke to the country. And that country wasn’t Scotland, it was the United Kingdom.

(That said, liberal London, the pundits who have fairly cooed over the SNP leader, might care to reflect why the First Minister felt the need to give her supporters a public lesson in Democracy 101. It is no longer taken as given amongst some in Scotland that reporters have a right to hold politicians to account, or at least one party’s politicians.)

It was far from her best speech, shorter than most and flat in parts. But even on her worst day, Sturgeon is better than every other Scottish politician put together. One need not be a swivel-eyed Saltire-waver to be carried away by her uplifting rhetoric.

But it is rhetoric and after May 7 the messy business of parliamentary politics begins in earnest. And here things could get interesting.

So much of the criticism of the SNP is predicated on the assumption that they are wrong. That their approach to austerity is idealistic mush at best, populist bluster at worst, and doomed to failure. That the rest of the UK is not willing to be pulled to the “left”, or what passes for left in SNP terms. That English voters will not see the hand of friendship but the scraped knuckles of nationalism.

But what if they’re right? What if there is a “progressive” majority across the four nations and a Labour-led, SNP-driven government was able to grow rather than cut our way to a balanced ledger? What if austerity was scrapped, the “bedroom tax” axed, and (less likely) £100bn earmarked for upgrading our nuclear deterrent diverted to schools and hospitals?

What if, in short, the UK became more like the independent Scotland envisioned by Sturgeon? What reason would there be left for all but the most committed Nationalist to vote Yes in a future referendum?

That is a consideration for another day. Today was all about wooing the English centre-left. Relying on the highly scientific metric of counting the number of “I wish I could vote for her down here” comments in my Facebook timeline, I’d say a lot of them are making puppy-dog eyes right back at her.

Analysis by Stephen Daisley, STV’s digital political correspondent. You can contact him at stephen.daisley@stv.tv.

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2 comments on “Time is running out for the UK

  1. It may be sensible to contextualise these posts as a casual observer may take an unduly negative tone from the, appropriate, anti-SNP sentiment.

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  2. This is my reply to their contact in response to them sending me the ‘English’ manifesto!

    Dear Ms xxxxxx,

    On investigation of the copy of the so-called ‘English’ manifesto that you have sent me, I see that it is nothing of the sort, it is your UK/British manifesto that mentions England and English matters. Where is the separate manifesto for England equivalent to your Scottish and Welsh manifesto? Yet again you have short changed England. Moreover to add insult to injury it states ‘We will retain the Barnett Formula as the basis for determining the grant to cover that part of the Scottish Parliament’s budget not funded by tax revenues raised in Scotland’.

    The late Lord Barnett, devised this formula in 1979 as a short term expedient. He himself said to me that this formula was outdated and confirmed that it was never based on need, despite the frequent assertions to the contrary made by Gordon Brown and others.

    The current ratio, based on relative 1979 population figures, is 10% for Scotland (but now Scotland has only 8% of the UK population but they still get 10%) and 5% for Wales and helps to determine the size of the Northern Ireland grant when the overall public spending in England rises. (There are no good records of the grants falling when expenditure in England falls). The result has been that public spending per head in England is far below that of the rest of the UK leaving less to apportion throughout England. Moreover the perpetual deficit for England ((97%)has led to a scandalous and ever increasing loss of income for England

    Thus, based on ONS figures for 2012-2013, £8,676 per head was available to spend on public services in England; in Scotland £10,327 per head, Wales £9,877 and Northern Ireland £11,064 . Clearly England is being short changed by British governments. While there is no-one in England to stand up for us in Parliament this situation will never end and we will continue to see cutbacks in the health service and elsewhere and the selling off of by British Governments of English national assets such as forests and portions of our national parks.

    I remain appalled at the treatment of England by successive British Governments. Unlike Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we have no political or constitutional recognition. As the people of those countries and that Province have been so recognised with their separate governments and we have not we fall under the UN definition of unrepresented peoples.

    Scilla Cullen

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