Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Tories abandon the Union

The evidence grows that the Conservatives have never met a principle that they could not abandon.

After the simple weirdness of Cameron's "Bill of Rights" -which even Ken Clarke thought was pretty much contrary to every principle in our legal system- we now have the brilliant idea of making Scottish MPs second class members of the the House of Commons.

After years of unyielding support for "The Union", which nearly drove Scots into the arms of the SNP, the Tories now have the idea that the only constitutional reform that is needed is to stop Scottish MP's voting on "English" matters.

Dangerous nonsense!

Liberals and Liberal Democrats always supported home rule for Scotland and Wales on the basis that the result would be a Federal Britain. Only Federalism answers the so-called West Lothian question. What is now needed is a full constitutional settlement- which means restoring the lost powers of local government and making the current Scottish and Welsh systems self sustaining.

If England chooses a Parliament of its own or chooses regional assemblies, or makes the existing Counties more powerful (after all many of them are larger than several member states of the EU) then that is a matter for them.

What they can NOT do is to minimize or exclude Scottish or Welsh members from the only body that unites us: The national Parliament in Westminster.

As Liberals we have always liked Home Rule enough to want to give it all round. Now it is essential for the survival of the United Kingdom - and the unprincipled opportunism of Cameron's Conservatives is very dangerous.

For as long as the House of Commons has the legal right to abolish the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, then Members from those countries must retain the right to be full members of the House of Commons.

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