A wee bit of pedantry

It’s always very annoying when you read an article which you agree with the overall thrust of, but the author includes in it some complete howlers that undermine their case.

Iain MacWhirter’s piece about an English Parliament in the Herald today is a case in point. Less importantly, but still annoying because it is in the first paragraph:

So what would an English parliament actually look like, if those 61% of English voters, in last night’s Newsnight poll, who say they want one, get their way. Well, I’m tempted to say that an English parliament would be a bit like day one of a Liberal Democrat party conference. The LibDems already have a federal structure and delegates from England sit, in splendid isolation, at their annual conference to talk about English affairs.

Er, no we don’t. In fact, the first day of conference is normally reserved for business motions and receiving reports, all of which are federal, as anyone who glanced at the agenda would know.

More significantly though is this:

Scots MPs voted, famously, on the 2004 Higher Education Bill, which introduced top-up fees in England, but that didn’t stop it becoming law.

The point, Mr MacWhirter, is that Labour Scots MPs voted FOR the Higher Education Bill, thus imposing top up fees in England that would otherwise have fallen, despite the fact that Labour supported the abolition of tuition fees in Scotland. Now, I would happily accept the argument put forward by many constitutionalists that they should not necessarily have been prevented from voting in that debate, as it is undeniable that the Higher Education Bill had implications for Scotland, but that is a different point to the one that Iain MacWhirter is making here.

Generally however, this is quite a good article which nails some of the sillier aspects of the English Parliament campaigners’ arguments.

On a related note, this ranks as my favourite Act of Union story.


  1. The article is mostly howlers. The CEP aren’t opposed to regions per se, just opposed to Prescott’s regions with no English parliament.

    Also, having been a member of the CEP for years, I can honestly say that I’ve never heard an advocate of English devolution use slogans such as “English votes for English laws”. Quite the reverse, advocates of devolution – whether English parliament supporters or regionalists – are completely opposed to EVoEL.

    MacWhirter has an uncanny ability to trot out this sort of complete nonsense week on week.

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