Friday, 20 May 2005

Utter shambles

What an extraordinary mess the Conservatives have got themselves into:
JAMES Gray, the shadow Scottish secretary, was sacked yesterday after suggesting in The Scotsman that all MSPs should lose their jobs, with Holyrood being turned into a part-time home for Scottish MPs.

Mr Gray had been in his high-profile job for only a week, but his position became untenable after a furious David McLetchie, the Scottish Conservative leader, demanded that the North Wiltshire MP be fired from his front-bench role.

The editorial in the Scotsman points out that Mr Gray's views were well known before he was appointed shadow Secretary of State:
Mr Gray, the Glasgow-born MP for North Wiltshire, was known for his wayward views on devolution: he called in January last year for doing away with MSPs and having Scottish MPs sit at Holyrood for two days a week.
I share Mr Gray's belief that we don't need two lots of politicians serving (sic) Scotland, although I do support domestic legislation being made here. Given our many-party political spectrum I could be persuaded that Scotland should have some form of PR and that could be taken as meaning that MSPs spend part of the week in Westminster rather than MPs working (sic) in Holyrood part-time. But that's a detail; the point is that one lot of politicians can easily serve at both Westminster and Holyrood. So where did Mr Gray go wrong?

Unfortunately for Mr Gray, his views were:

... at marked variance with official party policy, which is to support both the parliament and its MSPs.
I suspect that we haven't heard the last of this by any means. Many English Tories are upset about Mr Gray's treatment:
Some in England believe that the party could profitably exploit the growing unease over Scotland's constitutional and financial position within the United Kingdom, albeit at the cost of handicapping Mr McLetchie and his party.
But the English Tories should be exploiting asymmetrical devolution and their subjugation by the Scottish Raj. The real question up here is this: Will sorting out "Scotland's constitutional and financial position within the United Kingdom" harm Scotland? I don't think so. It may well harm the Scottish Conservative Party as led by Mr McLetchie, but that's because far too many McLetchieite Tories share Labour's belief that we're too poor to stand on our own feet financially. Given that Scotland's per-capita GDP is close to the British and European average it seems to me that our problem is profligate spending by an out-of-control government machine rather than insufficient wealth to fund a much-reduced state sector. Scots Tories should embrace fiscal devolution and provide a radical alternative to the all-too-numerous socialist parties that infest the Scottish body politic.

As Mr Jamieson puts it:

That leaves what I call, for want of a better term, a "bravura act" to catalyse change. The adoption of a flat tax would be one such act. Another might be the abolition of business tax.
If that requires a separate party from that led by Michael Howard and with a more radical leader than David McLetchie, so be it.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Neil Craig
Come the next election it looks likely that the Lib Dems, SNP & Tories will, combined, have over 50% of the vote. Stuart has said that it would be impossible for the SNP leaders to have a coalition with the Tories. This produces some interesting scenarios - ungovernability, a minority Labour government, another Lib/Lab pact, a minority Lib/SNP pact, a Con/Lab pact with the conservatives being kingmakers in each case. 
My preference, assuming Stuart is right, would be a Lib/SNP one with de facto Tory support. Obviously this is somewhat unfair on the Tories but not being directly responsible has advantages. It would enable the Tories to veto any move to independence, with the SNP having absolutely no leverage on them. It would also allow them to criticise failures & say that they would be more radical on growth policies (as long as they work). 
I hope that there are people in the party thinking about their role in a four & 2 halves party Parliament.

27 May 2005, 21:42:59 GMT+01:00
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Newfoundland was the subject of an exceptional article published by 'The Globalist' a couple of years ago. It is a cautionary tale for governments all over the world. 
"There is often a contradiction between democracy and debt. Voters elect governments who pursue populist policies which, before long, may lead to debt crises.  
The countries then turn to the IMF for help." 
Pressure is building on the governments of France and Germany, for example, to adopt "populist policies", and ignore measures to promote the national economies. If the governments yield, this issue could derail the EU constitution. On the other hand the government of Venezuela thinks populist policies are the way ahead if a country has title to huge oil reserves. 
Scotland might have to find another gold mine (isn't the North Sea history?) if it wants to follow Venezuela.

24 May 2005, 18:38:07 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

When Newfoundland first became an independent Dominion it went bust and asked to be taken on as a colony again. Then after WWII we managed to transfer it to be part of Canada. How bad would management of Scotland have to be before Devolution is scrapped?

23 May 2005, 17:23:55 GMT+01:00
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Trackback message 
Title: Tory Trouble 
Excerpt: David Farrer, who was a member of the 1952 Committee - A Lost Tory Vote, reluctantly decided to vote Conservative on the 5th of May, despite their support for ID cards... 
Blog name: Independence

21 May 2005, 03:31:56 GMT+01:00
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Argyll and clyde health board is just one example of out of control spending £100 million in debt

20 May 2005, 18:59:30 GMT+01:00
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It should be the Tories that are peddling English Votes on English Laws that should be sacked (or resign). At least Gray would be able to explain why dual mandate Scottish MPs could work, which is more than can be said for any of his colleagues on 'English Votes'.

20 May 2005, 18:57:02 GMT+01:00
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Representation. The cost of the Holyrood branch of UK government is indeed high. Moreover, Holyrood's effectiveness is not subject to official investigation. Therefore, we'll probably never know if there's over-representation, etc. 
On the economy. One aspect - the Telegraph today suggests that the cost of police and extra security for the G8 economic summit at Gleneagles could reach £100 million. Westminster will pay £20m of this, leaving Scotland to meet the balance. When the UK hosts the meeting, it will also hold the presidency of the European Union; this means it should represent the views of the EU. The President of the European Commission came to Glasgow a few weeks ago and indicated that Scotland might be the most pro European part of the UK.  
Perhaps Scotland could be part re-imbursed by the EU. But this is unlikely, because hasn't Westminster so far refused EU money to debate the proposed constitution. The official line was once that the UK aims to be at the centre of Europe (politically).

20 May 2005, 16:33:23 GMT+01:00