George Osborne’s devolution plans strike right at the heart of the democratic rights of the Scottish people.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has outlined plans to curb Scottish MP’s right to vote on the UK budget. Under draft legislation the devolution of income tax would come coupled with the hobbling of Scottish MPs and their ability to vote on an issue that effects the whole of the United Kingdom. Osborne specifically lashed out at the SNP saying:
“I think it would be very unfair to the whole UK if we had a Chancellor of the Exchequer who was beholden on Scottish Nationalist votes in the next Parliament. I think that would not be fair for the rest of the UK and I think those who aspire to hold this office should make it very clear before the election that they would not be beholden on Scottish Nationalist votes.”
The SNP of course only stands for seats in Scotland and the thrust of Osborne’s objection to SNP power is the idea of Scotland dictating terms to the rest of the UK. Ignoring for a moment the fact that it is perfectly normal for a small part of the UK to hold all the power, normally it is Southern England, this seems like a reasonable objection. But it is an inevitable side-effect of the broken voting system used in Westminster called First Past The Post.
Since the Conservatives are terminally averse to voting reform the only choice left to the Chancellor is to attempt to destroy the ability of Scotland to hold the balance of power. He is doing this by trying to argue that the Budget is somehow and England only issue and should be covered by “English Votes For English Laws”. This is an absurd and highly undemocratic notion as the Budget covers a whole host of issues that have a direct impact on the people of Scotland and the ability of the Holyrood Government to govern at all.
If Scottish MPs are stripped of their right to vote on this most vital of issues we, the people of Scotland, will lose our ability to hold the Westminster Government to account. Without that ability we will be left with toothless MPs and our MSPs running the limited powers of the Holyrood government. We would, in effect, no longer be a true part of the United Kingdom as we will have lost our ability to consent to the governance of that state, but neither would we be independent. We would be a vassal or “client” nation, without even the paltry democratic power we had before the referendum.
But if a nation votes against its own sovereignty its no real surprise when its government feels perfectly happy stripping it away entirely.