15 July 2015

Yesterday, the planned vote over whether to relax fox hunting legislation was postponed in a flurry of debate over ‘English Votes for English Laws’ as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon threw her weight around on Radio 4’s Today programme, explaining why her MPs would be opposing the changes.

Photo credit: Michael D. Beckwith

Photo credit: Michael D Beckwith

Yet earlier this year, Sturgeon said her MPs wouldn’t be voting on English fox hunting legislation. So what changed her mind? Having heard her argument, I’ve got to say, I think she’s away with the fairies although sadly not far enough away.

Her comments that David Cameron has shown Scottish MPs “very little respect” seems to be rooted in the belief that ‘English votes for English Laws’ is unfair and would turn them into second class citizens in Parliament.

But Scotland has some of its own laws that are completely different to those in England. It’s also worth pointing out that English and Welsh MPs don’t sit in Scottish Parliament; why should Scotland have both sides of the coin?

I’m not sure it’s unfair that English MPs should get a veto over issues that only apply to their constituents? I would argue that it’s more a case of common sense. Why can’t there be laws that are useful and specific to a region? In the same way the government has been devolving responsibility and allowing Greater Manchester to take its destiny into its own hands, realising that local politicians and councillors are more likely to understand the needs of the Manchester infrastructure than those based in Whitehall.

The increased Scottish presence in Parliament has thrown a number of issues into the spotlight, with several political figures trying to assert themselves. It’s often said that empty vessels make the loudest noise and at the moment I think Nicola Sturgeon is the loudest! There’s always going to be conflict within the government if she keeps putting her ego first.

Great leaders listen, and I think she’s clearly got a long way to go before she can be described as one. Her responsibility now is to do good for Great Britain – all of Great Britain – not to be divisive or to act only in Scotland’s interests.

Where do you stand on this issue? Is it fair to have ‘English votes for English laws’ or do you agree with the SNP?

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