Friday 5 November 2004

Just saying no

I note that the canny folk from North East England have rejected the proposed regional assembly:
The total number of people voting against the plans was 696,519 (78%), while 197,310 (22%) voted in favour. Official figures showed 47.8% of the region's 1.9 million voters took part in the all-postal ballot.
I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the "no" majority and the reasonable turnout. There wasn't really any similarity to the Scottish devolution referendum: Scotland has a clearly identifiable national culture and well-defined territory together with its own legal system. That's not the case in the English regions where the very boundaries are often the invention of the Whitehall bureaucratic mind.

This appeared in the Scotsman earlier in the week:

The scandal over the spiralling cost of the building and its numerous delays is the only aspect of Scottish devolution that many voters in the north-east know about - and they do not want to make the same mistakes in their region.

One Labour MP confirmed that the problems of the Holyrood building had been raised by many voters over the last few weeks of campaigning, and the only way it could be countered was to insist that no new buildings would be constructed to house the North-east Assembly.

But when we had our referendum in Scotland no one expected that we would be made to pay for a new parliament building - the Royal High School was ready and waiting on Calton Hill. Why then would the people of north-east England not have a sneaking suspicion that they would be lumbered with one too?


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

-"most of the powerful politicians in the ruling party are Scots or elected from Scottish constituencies" 
You have a very idiosyncratic interpretation of the word "most". If 15% constitutes "most" in your mind then you need to re-sit your O' Grade Arithmetic. 
DavidC's mid-term school report: D+

20 November 2004, 17:39:07 GMT
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It's a bit rich to say that England totally dominates the UK when most of the powerful politicians in the ruling party are Scots or elected from Scottish constituencies, the ruling party is at its strongest in Scotland and Wales and their politicians get to vote on issues affecting England but not vice versa.

18 November 2004, 19:11:09 GMT
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-"Stuart you are quite wrong in saying that Scotland is not poorer per capita than England." 
Official Treasury figures support you, but it is only fair to point out that they blatantly omit Continental Shelf (oil & gas) revenues, which overwhelmingly come from Scotland. 
I would also suggest that "slightly less rich" is a far more accurate description than "poorer", but I can see that Unionists require to constantly reduce Scots' self-esteem in order to prevent us from voting for self-government. 
-"Your link was of limited value in that it didn't mention ... the word Scotland at all." 
I myself found this a most remarkable ommission, but The Economist is a Unionist newspaper despite its republican, and otherwise enlightened, stances. 
The formula for defining jurisdiction and commercial rights between states is well-established and universally recognised. Applying the rule shows that 95% of the oil and 50% of the gas would be in Scottish waters. 
Fortunately the first Lib Lab administration made it even easier. When they came to office in 1999 the first thing they did, without a peep in parliament, was alter the line of jurisdiction between Scotland and England northwards. A very symbolic gesture of territorial surrender to our neighbour, but actually quite sensible, because this line now conforms to international requirements and is a perfect preparation for the dissolution of the Union. Using this existing line of jurisdiction, quelle surprise: 95% of oil and 50% of gas is ours! 
I sincerely hope that oil prices do drop. Oil is only a temporary benefit. It is only likely to be beneficial to Scotland's state finances for another 150 years or so.

11 November 2004, 09:11:52 GMT
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Neil Craig
Ted & Stuart 
Having done a bit more checking you have a point about the split. The Slovaks voted in Meciar in the expectation that, by acting tough, he would get a very good deal from the Czechs. The Czechs eventually decided not to play.  
Somewhat this is a matter of viewpoint. Nonetheless the comparison as to how England could get pissed off with the union stands. 
Stuart you are quite wrong in saying that Scotland is not poorer per capita than England. Would it were not so but it is. 
Your link was of limited value in that it didn't mention Scottish average income, the amount & value of oil that was Scotland's or indeed the word Scotland at all. I also think it would be unwise for us to base our future on the assumption that the Iraq war & thus the current oil price will last forever.

10 November 2004, 21:28:16 GMT
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David Farrer said...

Ted Schuerzinger competently states the point I was going to make re the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. 
It is also only fair to point out that Scotland is not poorer than England. We are on a par. In fact with the recent rise in oil prices Scotland is currently subsidising English public spending. See The Economist article, "Oil & the Economy": 
I note that in its discussion of "British" oil The Economist fails to mention that 95% of it is Scottish! 
-"The current system whereby Scots get to vote on running England is clearly unfair." (ie: The West Lothian Problem) 
I strongly agree (although I hate agreeing with Neil.) 
-option 1. "Reduce the representation of Scots & Welsh as was once done in Northern Irland." 
Neil, have you been asleep during the last 7 years? This has already been done! (Wales was never over-represented in the first place.) 
-option 2 
-option 3 
I agree, but has it skipped your notice that England completely dominates even without its own parliament. (It amuses me when UKIP rattles on about Germany ruling the EU when Germany represents a tiny minority of the EU's votes, in contrast to England's total domination of the UK.) 
Option 3 remains unionists best bet of holding the UK together. 
-option 4 
It ain't gonna happen. Drop the dead donkey. 
-option 5 
Although you do not even label it as an option (how is that for biased editing?) option 5 - the dissolution of the Union - remains the most viable and likely solution to the long-term West Lothian Problem. 
I agree that things do not appear urgent, but I must advise you that there is nothing better that pro-independence Welsh and Scots would like than for British Unionists to sit on their hands and let the natural course of events occur.

10 November 2004, 09:25:29 GMT
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David Farrer said...

Ted Schuerzinger
What's wrong with the old English shires? 
I think you're wrong about the richer Bohemia/Moravia forcing out Slovakia. It was much more a result of Vladimir Mečiar's winning the 1992 elections in the Slovak portion of the country that led to the breakup. From what I hear listening to the various international broadcasters on my shortwave radio, most of the chatterati outside Slovakia hated the idea of the breakup. 
(OT: Mečiar and Vaclav Klaus really deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia, but the committee couldn't stomach the idea of giving the prize to non-leftists, so they picked Rigoberta Menchú of all people.)

10 November 2004, 03:50:05 GMT
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Neil Craig
I hate to agree with Stuart but a Federal UK is now a more difficult thing. 
The current system whereby Scots get to vote on running England is clearly unfair. 
The options would appear to be: 
1) Reduce the representation of Scots & Welsh as was once done in Northern Ireland. 
2) Prevent Scots voting in Westminster on English matters - This would be very clumsy & create 2 separate parliamentary majorities & thus 2 governments. Imagine PM Howard passing a bill on army bases then getting up & swopping places with PM Brown who passes a bill on planning permission for army bases. 
3) An English Parliament - However because such a Parliament would cover 80% of the country it would dominate the UK even more than Russia dominated the USSR. 
4) Larger English assemblies ie North, Midlands & South. 
Ultimately this has to be a decision for England. I would prefer 4 as I think it would be best for the UK but it is not our decision. If we have a break-up it may well be, as I have said before, that the richer part may effectively force the poorer area(s) out as with Czechoslovakia. What a triumph for the SNP that would be!! 
However there is no urgent need to do anything - many problems are solved by time (who worries about disestablishment today) & as nations we are so intertwined that it would be a poor look out for mankind if we could not live together.

9 November 2004, 19:46:47 GMT
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Andrew Duffin
Stuart: "The biggest loser from this result is not the Labour Party, but the policy of a federal United Kingdom advocated by the Liberal Democratic Party." 
Advocated by the European Union, might have been a more accurate comment. (The Lib Dems merely follow where Brussels leads, in this as in all else). 
This whole regionalisation push (or maybe putsch) is a creature of the EU. It is part of the attempt to marginalise and ultimately abolish national governments and indeed the nations themselves, in due course. 
The beast is not dead of course - it never is - but thank goodness it has had a heavy setback on this part of its agenda.

8 November 2004, 12:19:50 GMT
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David Farrer said...

With 85% of the population, and the votes, of the United Kindom it is evident to everyone that it is England which rules the UK. "Belief" is not necessary, because the fact is obvious. 
That unionists continue to support such a situation shows that they welcome being ruled by England. 
If a Portuguese welcomed being ruled by Spain then the charge of lacking self respect would be fairly levelled by his countrymen.

8 November 2004, 10:35:40 GMT
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Alastair Ross
As the Duke of Wellington said when he was stopped in Piccadilly and challenged as to whether or not he was a certain Mr Smith,"If you believe that sir, you will believe anything".

7 November 2004, 23:34:11 GMT
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The wee adamant nationalists being of course the UKIP, Conservative Party and BNP. 
For Scottish unionists like yourself the uncomfortable truth is not only that you know England rules, but that is exactly the way you like it. You lack self-respect.

7 November 2004, 20:26:38 GMT
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Alastair Ross
How remiss of me. Well, the word is,in fact, an acronym : Wee Adamant Nationalists Know England Rules.

7 November 2004, 15:13:38 GMT
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David Malloch
"My! What a high-class lot you "libertarians" are." 
Stuart my good man, I am not posting these comments as an official 'libertarian', just giving my own opinion in a frank and forthright manner which leaves no room for misunderstanding. 
Thank you.

7 November 2004, 13:24:49 GMT
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You ommitted telling us the respectable origins of the word "wanker".

7 November 2004, 11:00:53 GMT
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Alastair Ross
Those of us who know the work of Robert Burns will recall the line in 'Holy Willie's Prayer' which includes the phrase 'pished wi' dread'. Well done Mr Malloch for reminding us of the auld Scots tongue in the face of perfectly understandable ignorance. Two fingers, as a gesture of contempt has a fine historical pedigree originating, as it does, from the Battle of Agincourt.

7 November 2004, 02:52:36 GMT