Archive for August 2014

Future of England Survey

Tucked away on the BBC News website is a video mentioning the results of the Future of England Survey conducted by the Universities of Cardiff and Edinburgh for YouGov.

With the Scottish independence referendum a month away you’d thing a poll on English attitudes to devolution, independence and the relationship between Scotland and England after the referendum would be major news but no, it’s hidden away in the video “features” section. I can’t find an actual article about the poll at all, just this video which is using a new interactive video format the BBC are trialling which doesn’t work on mobiles or in Internet Explorer, thus limiting the already limited prospective audience who watch video even further.

The findings of this survey are very interesting and as far as I’m aware it’s the only survey of English opinions on the subject of Scottish independence and English governance that have been carried out during the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum.

  • English Identity
  • Independence
  • What if Scotland votes yes?
  • What if Scotland votes NO?
  • English governance

Which, if any, of the following best describes the way you think of yourself?
English not British 11
More English than British 20
Equally English and British 41
More British than English 12
British not English 6
Other 4
Don’t know 5
Recently, people in England have become more aware of English national identity
Agree strongly 11
Tend to agree 34
Total Agree 45
Neither agree nor disagree 27
Tend to disagree 16
Strongly disagree 4
Total Disagree 20
Don’t know 8

Should Scotland be an independent country?
Yes 19
No 59
Don’t know 22
Should England be an independent country?
Yes 22
No 59
Don’t know 18

An independent Scotland should be able to continue to use the pound
Agree strongly 9
Tend to agree 14
Total Agree 23
Neither agree nor disagree 15
Tend to disagree 18
Strongly disagree 35
Total Disagree 53
Don’t know 9
People should be able to travel between England and Scotland without passport checks
Agree strongly 45
Tend to agree 24
Total Agree 69
Neither agree nor disagree 11
Tend to disagree 6
Strongly disagree 7
Total Disagree 13
Don’t know 6
The rest of the UK should support Scotland in applying to join international organisations, like the EU and NATO
Agree strongly 9
Tend to agree 17
Total Agree 26
Neither agree nor disagree 26
Tend to disagree 16
Strongly disagree 20
Total Disagree 36
Don’t know 12
The UK’s standing in the world will be diminished
Agree strongly 9
Tend to agree 27
Total Agree 36
Neither agree nor disagree 24
Tend to disagree 19
Strongly disagree 10
Total Disagree 29
Don’t know 10
Relations between England and Scotland will improve
Agree strongly 3
Tend to agree 7
Total Agree 10
Neither agree nor disagree 26
Tend to disagree 35
Strongly disagree 18
Total Disagree 53
Don’t know 11

The Scottish Parliament should be given control over the majority of taxes raised in Scotland
Agree strongly 11
Tend to agree 31
Total Agree 42
Neither agree nor disagree 21
Tend to disagree 17
Strongly disagree 8
Total Disagree 25
Don’t know 12
The Scottish parliament should be given the power to decide its own policies on welfare benefits
Agree strongly 11
Tend to agree 29
Total Agree 40
Neither agree nor disagree 22
Tend to disagree 17
Strongly disagree 9
Total Disagree 26
Don’t know 11
Would you say that compared with other parts of the UK, each of these gets pretty much their fair share of government spending, more than their fair share, or less than their fair share?
England
Gets their fair share 25
Gets more than their fair share 8
Gets less than their fair share 31
Don’t know 36
Scotland
Gets their fair share 20
Gets more than their fair share 38
Gets less than their fair share 4
Don’t know 38
Levels of public spending in Scotland should be reduced to the levels in the rest of the UK
Agree strongly 25
Tend to agree 31
Total Agree 56
Neither agree nor disagree 21
Tend to disagree 6
Strongly disagree 3
Total Disagree 9
Don’t know 13
Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on laws that apply only to England
Agree strongly 35
Tend to agree 27
Total Agree 62
Neither agree nor disagree 15
Tend to disagree 9
Strongly disagree 3
Total Disagree 12
Don’t know 10

With all the changes going on in the way different parts of the United Kingdom are run, which of the following do you think would be best for England?
For England to be governed as it is now with laws made by all MPs in the UK Parliament 18
For England to be governed with laws made by English MPs in the UK Parliament 40
For each region of England to have its own assembly 9
For England as a whole to have its own new English parliament with law-making powers 16
Don’t know 17
Thinking about possible arrangements for making laws for England two options are often mentioned. If you had to choose which ONE would you prefer?
For England to be governed with laws made solely by English MPs in the UK Parliament 36
For England to be governed with laws made solely by English MPs in the UK Parliament 25
Keep things as they are at present 22
Don’t know 17
A Secretary of State for England in the UK cabinet
Agree strongly 22
Tend to agree 31
Total Agree 53
Neither agree nor disagree 23
Tend to disagree 7
Strongly disagree 4
Total Disagree 11
Don’t know 12
UK government ministers for each of the regions of England
Agree strongly 18
Tend to agree 33
Total Agree 51
Neither agree nor disagree 22
Tend to disagree 10
Strongly disagree 6
Total Disagree 16
Don’t know 11
An English Parliament
Agree strongly 26
Tend to agree 28
Total Agree 54
Neither agree nor disagree 20
Tend to disagree 9
Strongly disagree 6
Total Disagree 15
Don’t know 10
Changing the rules in parliament, so that only English MPs can vote on laws that would apply only in England
Agree strongly 40
Tend to agree 29
Total Agree 69
Neither agree nor disagree 14
Tend to disagree 5
Strongly disagree 3
Total Disagree 8
Don’t know 9
England and Scotland will still continue to drift apart
Agree strongly 8
Tend to agree 29
Total Agree 37
Neither agree nor disagree 29
Tend to disagree 17
Strongly disagree 4
Total Disagree 21
Don’t know 13

There is clear support here for preventing MPs not elected in England from voting on English laws and for cutting the amount of taxpayers’ money Scotland gets so England gets its fair share. Most people want to keep open borders with an independent Scotland but don’t think they should be allowed to keep the pound. The majority are in favour of Scotland getting more powers over taxation and benefits spending and think England should have its own parliament. Over half think each English euroregion should have its own UK government minister but less than 1 in 10 think England should have regional government.

So, if the UK was a truly representative democracy with a government that listened to what people wanted and acted on it we would have a devolved English Parliament with a Secretary of State for England in the British government along with a minister for each English euroregion and the £11bn or so subsidy that’s given to Scotland would be abolished and shared equally with England. What we have instead is an ever increasing bill for Scotland’s profligate spending, MPs elected in Scotland making laws that only affect England, no English government of any sort and a sustained campaign to break England up into artificial regions.

Stone Cross St George's Day Parade

What does Scottish independence mean for England?

There has been very little coverage of next month’s Scottish independence vote down here in England (much like the Scottish devolution vote in 1997 actually) and what media coverage there has been from a purely Scottish viewpoint. So what does it mean for England?

The important thing to remember is that a No vote in Scotland will be a disaster for England. I don’t mean because Scotland will continue to drain English taxes to pay for their unsustainable public spending and prolong the forced marriage for at least another 50 years but because it will lead to a widening of the democratic deficit in England and we won’t get another chance in our lifetime to finally put the union out to pasture with all the other anachronistic supranational bureaucracies that have expired in recent years.

The British government have already promised extensive new powers to the Scottish Parliament in the event that they vote No on 18th September. They’re getting even more tax raising powers to go with the ones they haven’t bothered to use for the last 17 years and they’re getting some powers over the Scottish benefits system. All three Scottish LibLabCon parties have signed a declaration promising more powers for Scotland and reiterating their commitment to a strong and powerful Scottish Parliament:

We support a strong Scottish Parliament in a strong United Kingdom and we support the further strengthening of the parliament’s powers.

The Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have each produced our own visions of the new powers which the Scottish Parliament needs.

We shall put those visions before the Scottish people at the next general election and all three parties guarantee to start delivering more powers for the Scottish Parliament as swiftly as possible in 2015.

This commitment will deliver a stronger Scottish Parliament in a stronger United Kingdom.

The British Labour, British Conservative & Unionist and British Lib Dem parties have no vision for England other than taking powers off local authorities and giving them to unaccountable, ineffectual regional and sub-regional quangos. There is no intention of recognising and respecting the sovereign right of the English people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs.

The British nationalist Better Together campaign is only interested in making the case for the union in Scotland and only Scottish politicians have been allowed to front it – Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, John Reid, David Cameron, Michael Gove. UKIP wanted to join the Better Together campaign but was refused because it isn’t a Scottish political party. No irony there. Better Together might be headed up by British nationalists but it isn’t about British interests, it’s about Scottish interests. Scotland gets the best of both worlds as they say on their website – they can spend money without worrying about where it comes from and make decisions without having to worry about the costs or implications because if it goes wrong it’s always London’s fault for not giving them more money.

Here are the facts about the Scottish independence vote that an English person needs to know:

Scottish independence doesn’t mean the end of the UK. If you’re English and a unionist you can take comfort from the fact that the British union will continue to exist if the Scots declare independence, just the same as it did after the Irish Free State left the union in 1937. If you’re English and want an end to the British union then bad luck, Scottish independence isn’t the silver bullet for the union.

Scottish independence won’t turn Westminster into an English Parliament. The British Parliament will continue to be the British Parliament for as long as the UK exists. The British Parliament was still the British Parliament after Irish independence and it would continue to be so after Scottish independence.

Scottish independence won’t make an English Parliament inevitable. If there was a slim chance of England getting a devolved government with Scotland in the union there’s bugger all chance of it happening without Scotland. England currently comprises 85% of the population of the UK which is one of the excuses the British use to argue that we don’t need an English Parliament. Without Scotland it would be over 90% of the population, making it even harder to sell the benefits of an English Parliament.

No vote won’t make an English Parliament inevitable. The run-up to the Scottish independence vote has been all about Scotland and whatever the result, it’s all going to be about Scotland afterwards. A fair and democratic settlement for England isn’t going to register. the Brits will be too busy negotiating Scotland’s departure from the union or slapping each other on the backs for their “victory” in securing a No vote.

The UK’s international standing won’t be diminished without Scotland. Most people won’t even notice the difference either here or abroad. The UK would retain its membership of all the international bodies it is a member of, all treaties would remain in force and the UK would still be the sixth largest economy in the world by GDP. The UK’s economic power and international standing comes from England, not Scotland or even from Britain.

You won’t need a passport to go to Scotland. You can travel to the Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands without a passport so there’s no reason why you should need a passport to travel to Scotland if they become independent.

Your Scottish friends and relatives are already foreign. They might be British by law but they’re Scottish. Does it matter? If Scotland votes for independence and a Scot wanted to stay “British” then they could move from Scotland to the rump of the UK. If they don’t want to because they want to live in Scotland then they need to make their mind up whether they’re Scottish or British.

Scotland can continue using the pound. It doesn’t matter whether the British government says they can or not, they can use whatever currency they want if they declare independence. A large number of countries use another country’s currency either alongside its own domestic currency or as legal tender in that country. An independent Scotland can choose to adopt the pound as legal tender and there’s nothing the British government can do to stop them.

England would benefit economically from Scottish independence. It costs over £11bn a year to subsidise Scottish public services and that bill is paid by the English taxpayer. The Scottish nationalists think that north sea oil and gas tax receipts cover that bill and claim that they have in fact been subsidising the UK’s spending for decades. It’s nonsense but that’s Scotland’s problem not ours. Just removing the burden of subsidising Scotland’s profligate spending would give the English and rump British economy a boost.

Scottish independence would help eurosceptics. Scotland is by far the most europhile part of the UK and their views skew public opinion which in England is very much eurosceptic. If a referendum was ever held on our membership of the EU then Scotland could well swing it in favour of staying in. Scotland also votes almost exclusively for openly europhile British MPs – with the exception of the one EU reformist Tory, all the British MPs in Scotland are Labour, Lib Dem or SNP and openly in favour of ever closer union.

The British flag won’t change. It didn’t change when the Irish Free State declared independence so why would it change if Scotland declared independence? If you like the BNP logo then don’t worry, it doesn’t need to change.

Oliver Cromwell
You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately.

Depart, I say; and let us have done with you.

In the name of God, go!

RIP Andrew Ian Dodge

I’ve seen the sad news today that Andrew Ian Dodge passed away on Friday after losing his second battle with cancer.

Andrew was a seasoned campaigner who couldn’t help but try and right any wrongs he came to know of. He had a strong sense of right and wrong and his desire to effect change led him to stand for election as Senator for Maine for the Libertarian Party.

Andrew was a supporter of an English Parliament, a eurosceptic, a prolific blogger and a rock/metal fan. We had a lot in common!

RIP AID.

Andrew Ian Dodge

Best. Photobomb. Ever.

Alex Salmond COSG photobomb