Sunday, July 09, 2006
Tory attacks on Brown's Scottishness could really hurt
But this is not unimportant for Brown. The Tories have included English votes for English issues in their last two manifestos and seem well set to run strongly with it in the lead up to the next election. If they can manage to change the political weather on the issue-and I think they just could- Brown might be trying to convince a country to vote for him which has already decided they cannot do so. Imagine the purchase the Tories could achieve by attacking- in the most subtle and not too obvious way, of course-Brown's palpable, almost lugubrious Scottishness. Party leaders would have to couch their attacks in the most subtle and non obvious ways, but their outriders in the press and elsewhere would be free to invoke any amount of ridicule and resentment against the Scots and the better deal received north of the border from the public purse.
A political war over the break up of the united Kingdom- more or less embraced by Michael Portillo I note- could set up an election in 2009 which Brown would be very hard pressed to win. And whilst someone like Tony Blair- born in Edinburgh so technically a Scot as well- is capable of turning aside such a campaign, I'm by no means sure the less fleet of tongue son of the manse is equally well equipped.
Brown is elected on none of those things and is therefore unaccointable to any UK voter.
The constitutional argument put forward by the Tories - that, as toque says, Brown is "unaccointable to any UK voter" - is bogus. It is clear that the vast majority of citizens elect not their favoured local MP but rather their favoured national party. Our FPTP system is, in this respect, a farce.
That is indeed the general case amongst most voters, but it doesn't make the FPTP system a farce, for FPTP’s aptitude to hold elected representatives to account still exists. One of the safest Tory constituencies in the country ‘kicked’ out Neil Hamilton for sleaze and elected the independent Martin Bell, not to mention typical (but discontented) Labour voters in Blaenau Gwent voting for independent candidates in 2005 and 2006.
But even if you regard the FPTP system as a farce, the unreciprocated constitutional imbalance that came about because of half-baked devolution still stand as a issue that has to be sorted out.
"the unreciprocated constitutional imbalance that came about because of half-baked devolution still stand as an issue that has to be sorted out."
You are quite right. This is a major issue which makes a nonsense of our democracy. It could quite easily lead to the break up of the UK unless there are root and branch constitutional reforms of our parliamentary system. However, the tory scenario of English votes for English issues is equally ill thought out and could lead to a stalemate whereby a UK national government may never get any legislation passed. This is simply tory opportunism as they know there support base in Scotland & Wales has disappeared for good.
Anyway speaking of opportunism, I'm off to "hug a hoodie".
The constitutional dilemma would only be solved if we have properly devolved parliaments/assemblies across the UK or go back to the pre-1997 situation: one UK electorate, one UK parliament.
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