Friday, December 03, 2004


Writing about food yesterday, I made passing reference to the number of Scots in the present Government and Peter, the pre-eminent Scottish blogger, kindly expressed his sympathy.
The sheer number of them is extraordinary and, technically, includes Blair himself who was born and educated in Scotland. In addition to Brown and Reid, there's also Alastair Darling, Douglas Henderson and several other New Labour clones I can't bring to mind at the moment.
I don't actually care if, through chance or merit, the entire Cabinet is Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish. But with Scottish devolution, this Government has created a constitutional outrage.
It's not just the famous 'West Lothian Question' which asks why the MP for West Lothian can vote at Westminster on issues affecting West Bromwich but the MP for West Bromwich can't vote on issues affecting West Lothian, although the Government decided to just ignore that and pretend it wasn't a problem. It's actually even worse than that because, as Simon Hoggart once pointed out, the Scots are 44% over-represented at Westminster so the average voter in West Lothian has far more influence over the way West Bromwich is run than the average voter in West Bromwich.
But in relation to Ministers, it undermines another basic principle of our representative democracy. For John Reid, as Health Minister, who sits for a Scottish seat, can impose policies on England for which he is not accountable to his own constituents because their health policy is decided by the Scottish Parliament.
And as Peter also pointed out, if I as an Englishman stood for the Scottish Parliament I would have about as much chance of being elected as of winning Pop Idol.
One other curiosity is that English electors are far more comfortable with unreconstructed Scots politicians than with unreconstructed Welsh ones. I'm sure that was a factor in Kinnock's failure. With only a few exceptions, successful Welsh politicians in both the Labour and Conservative parties have dropped the accent and shed every trace of Welshness, none more spectacularly so than the late Roy Jenkins who used to go the colour of one of his favourite clarets if reminded of his Welsh origins.

Still to come: Cockocracy: why aren't there more wee girlies in the Cabinet?


Forget Blackpool's Beaver Creek. Lee is now up a more famous creek and without a paddle.
It was when Carlo said the car Lee had borrowed was a BMW that I heard alarm bells ringing and it was when Giles Humphries glanced at his mileage after having his car serviced that the balloon went up. Added lift-off was achieved when Annabel, his wife, found a packet of condoms in the glove compartment.
Giles Humphries, M.B.E., is Chairman of the Parish Council and a member of the Police Authority, a man who thinks hanging's too good for them - and that's just his view of Guardian readers.
According to Mrs Skidmore, whose husband trims the Humphries' yew hedge, Giles told Arthur at the garage that he now had as much chance of getting planning permission for his new extension as of opening a pork butcher in Tel Aviv.
Arthur said he would sack Lee.
Giles said he would press charges.
Lee said "whatever".
Tomorrow: Father Donnelly has more Blackpool revelations


Post a Comment

<< Home