Yesterday twitter erupted with criticism and compliments towards the SNP. My own views were largely on the complimentary side of the debate. Firstly we had the flexing of muscles over a vote that has yet to take place, the amendment to fox hunting legislation. This change relates only to England and Wales, and would have brought our legislation into line with Scottish rules so when Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that the SNP would have voted against the motion putting the miniscule Conservative majority at almost certain defeat, the Tories went hyperbolic. The SNP decision had nothing to do with fox hunting, but it was intended to send a message to the Conservative government about the narrowness of its majority. One of the people who spoke out was Worthing MP Peter Bottomley, who expressed his frustration that the SNP wanted to vote on matters that did not affect them. Of course what Sir Peter was overlooking was the extent to which Southern MPs regularly vote on matters that relate to the North of England, and vice versa. That English MPs regularly make decisions on Welsh matters without considering abstaining. I personally believe that we do need devolved decision making for the English part of our Parliament. However I don’t believe that this Governments cack handed attempts at EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) is what is needed, and more importantly I don’t believe that they should be allowed to introduce such a constitutional type change by the back door. We the English people deserve the same opportunity that our Scottish and Welsh neighbours had, to have our say. My personal preference would be for a Bill I would describe as LVLL, Local Votes for Local Laws, a process which would enable much more devolution than David Cameron has suggested, bringing the decision making far closer to residents. I would want to see a different group of people making such decisions rather than a rump of the MPs who are elected to serve in a British Parliament, in short we need a full blown national debate on our constitution which enables powers that have been extracted from local areas to Westminster to be returned. Of course as David Cameron said, the SNP was being opportunistic in their planned approach, hardly a shock in a Parliament built on opportunism. However its a bit rich for Mr Cameron to speak as he did, knowing that he was about to opportunistically withdraw his Bill, primarily because so many of his own MPs were opposed to the proposal. The truth was that the Government were trying to introduce a Bill that did not have wholehearted support in his own Party.
The second reason why the SNP deserve to be applauded yesterday was as a result of the maiden speech of Mhairi Black. Her words on You Tube have been watched over 60,000 times and it is well worth the 7 minutes the clip lasts. Her eloquence is reminiscent of many MPs no longer in Parliament and of earlier generations, she truly did speak truth to the Power in our society. The speech is very inspiring and leaves me wondering what response I can make? It seems clear that neither Conservative or Labour Parties are ever going to offer a proper devolution for England voluntarily. Many of their MPs are far too comfortable in their second homes, presumably seeing foodbanks as a price that society must pay for their mismanagement of our nation, and homelessness a counterbalance to the property price rises that fuels the growth in their own wealth. If they do not see things that way, one wonders why so few demonstrate any understanding of these issues to name but two. I heard many English voters interviewed during at the General Election in May expressing regret that they could not vote SNP. I am fortunate enough that I have a credible alternative in Caroline Lucas, but perhaps we need to develop further alternatives? Independent candidates willing to stand as my friend Chris Davis did in Southampton Test. He understands about foodbanks and homelessness. Sadly our electors don’t have much confidence that Independent MPs can make a real difference. In part this is as a result of the way in which the media deals with elections. However perhaps now is the time to change!