Sunday, October 28, 2007

Third Rate Leader


It will take a lot to convince me that Harriet Harman, Labour's Deputy Leader and Leader of the Commons, is anything other than a third rate politician possessed of all the political intellect of a jellyfish with special needs. And that's kind, compared to the withering assessment of Quentin Letts (who, admittedly, writes for the Mail, but even so echoes the views of many more liberal observers). Harman was on Andrew Marr's show this morning. One of the questions he put to her was about Malcolm Rifkind's suggestion today of a Grand Committee in Parliament, to debate exclusively English questions, as a way of resolving the West Lothian dilemma of Scottish devolution. Harman is, of course, opposed to any attempt to correct the balance in favour of English legislation, which famously can at the moment be decisively passed or vetoed on the votes of Scottish MP's whose constituents are unaffected by any such Westminster measures. In her blathering answer, she explained how much she supported devolution, and how it was a very good thing, but then promptly undid herself when it was cleat that she was no supporter of devolution for the English. Devolution for Scotland stregthens the Union, but devolution (even in the very mild form of a Grand Committee) for England will break it up, went the bizarre argument. If this smug woman really is the best that Labour can throw up they are in serious trouble.

1 comment:

David Carnell said...

The simple fact that Labour will not or cannot admit to is that devolving England would be very bad for their majority. Of the 59 Scottish constituencies, 39 are Labour (77%). Meanwhile the Tories have just ONE seat north of the border. Remove these from the equation and Labour suddenly has a much smaller majority.

Although in principal it initially seems like a sound idea there is a case to be made against it on the line of (in the words of a famous SGS deputy head) reductio ad absurdum.

Why stop at banning Scottish MPs voting on issues that only affect English MPs. Should we stop white MPs voting on racial discrimination legislation? Or heterosexual MPs voting on gay rights issues? Should urban MPs have had a vote on fox hunting when it doesn't affect any of their constituents?

On an aside, since when did the Tories become the party of parliamentary reform?! What is the world coming to?