What is wrong with English cricket?

I have been watching English first class cricket  since the 1950s. During the  2014 season I  watched  eight days of county cricket. The matches  involved  ten of the eighteen counties . These counties  were evenly drawn from the first and second divisions of the County Championship.

There are many differences  between the 1950s  and now,  but the most alarming changes  are  the decline in batting technique, scarcity of spin bowling and poor close catching amongst present day players.

Poor batting techniques

The inadequate  techniques of modern batsmen never cease to amaze me. They are pathetically vulnerable to the short pitched ball, a failing made all the more dismaying because there is not  a bowler in world cricket who  could be described as having the extreme pace of a Tyson or Marshall and precious few who are fast in the sense that, for example, Statham was fast, that is quicker than fast medium but not hurtingly  fast.

This must be down to the amount of protective equipment they wear, especially helmets. Before helmets batsmen had to make a choice. Hook or learn to sway or duck out of the way of bouncers or suffer serious injury.  Some very good players  very rarely hooked, for example, Bobby Simpson and John Edrich. Now every Tom Dick and Harry think they can hook and pull and most make a mess of it,  frequently getting  into trouble through  hooking aerially or  all too often being hit.  All of this  because they have never learnt to duck and sway.  Most disturbing is the frequency with which  even  run-of-the-mill fast medium bowlers hit specialist batsmen on the helmet, either because they are inept at the strokes  or because they simply  do not seem to know how to duck or sway out of the way.

The second major  problem with modern batting technique is the modern stance, which incidentally also contributes to the  vulnerability  against pace.  The  baseball-style  stance is rapidly becoming normal,   being virtually universal amongst those under the age of twenty five . For example, in the Middlesex v Warwickshire  at Lords  this year all eight players who got to the crease on the day I was there can bat and all had variations of the bat waving baseball stance – the  Warwickshire reserve keeper McKay was the nearest to having an orthodox stance. Rikki Clarke – an immense and largely wasted cricketing talent – added to the bat waving with a crouch at the  crease with legs as wide apart as Desperate Dan in the Dandy. Keith Barker wasn’t far behind him in outlandishness.

The ill result of these type of stances in twofold. First, they lock the player into a position from which he has to extricate himself before he can play his shot. Just microseconds to do that  I know,  but microseconds is all you have when facing anyone over medium pace.  If the stance is of the upright type it  puts the batsman in a position where forward play is physically difficult. This is very important  because unless a batsman has  a sound forward play technique he  will always be vulnerable in England to the ball moving,  especially off the pitch.  Where the stance includes a  forward lunge as used by for example Moeen Ali this is particularly disabling,  because although it lessens the difficulty with  forward play, it makes the batsman a sucker for the short ball.

There is a further problem with the baseball stance. Many batsman who adopt it – the ones with the upright bat waving tendency most noticeably – render  the guard they had taken  effectively redundant because they move so far from it. The upshot is batsmen often  do not know where their off-stump is.   (If someone doubts this I suggest that they sit in line with the wicket then next time they go to a county game or watches carefully on television. Both show the failing clearly).

The natural orthodox stance with the bat behind the rear foot both puts the batsman in the best position to form a stroke,   keeps the body and head still and maintains the guard they have taken.

The diminishing amount and quality of spin bowling – see below –  is also affecting seriously the technical ability of batsmen to play it, with the few quality spinners who have survived often making even the best Test players look rather stupid.

The death of spin bowling

There probably is not  a modern county  captain  who understands how to use spinners.  None seem to understand that spinners bowl best in tandem, each one helping the other by strangling scoring.  None think  of them as attacking bowlers. It is always assumed that they need a helpful pitch to bowl on.  This is nonsense. Until the past twenty  years or so, spinners  would regularly bowl fifty per cent or more of the overs bowled in a day.  Not infrequently they would come on as first change on a first morning. They would be expected to bowl for long periods on good pitches and restrain the scoring.  Spinners would routinely operate in tandem.

Good bowlers can bowl regardless of the conditions. After the introduction of the new LBW law in 1935, which ostensibly disadvantaged leg spinners and advantaged offspinners,  quality leg spinners who were established at the time the new LBW law  was introduced continued to be highly successful way into the 1950s, for example Eric- Hollies, Doug Wright, Roly  Jenkins, Freddie Brown , Jim Simms and Peter Smith..

Similarly, after restrictions were placed on the number of legside  fielders behind the bat in the 1950s to render offspinners and inswing bowlers less capable of strangling  runrates, quality offspinners who were established before the law change continued to be successful  for many years after the law change, for example,  Titmus, Shepherd, Allen, Mortimore, Langford, Illingworth .

In both instances the change in the law resulted the popularity of spin bowling styles changing  so there was a decline in leg spinners emerging after the LBW change and fewer quality offspinners making their name following the restriction of leg-side fielders.  In both cases the change happened because it was  thought wrongly that the law change would make legbreak and offbreak  bowlers much less effective.

In the eight days of championship cricket I watched this year not once has 30 overs of spin been bowled in the day and on only one  occasion (Batty and Ansari for Surrey) have I seen spinners bowling  in tandem for any length of time.  A full day’s play between g  Middlesex v Warwickshire  yielded the  first spin  at 3 pm.  Only 13 overs of spin bowled in the day . At  the Surrey versus Derbyshire match at the Oval only two overs of spin were bowled on the day I attended.

All spinners are suffering, but  young spinners are hardly being given a chance. This is partly because of the practice of playing only one specialist spinner in most county sides, but it is also a consequence of counties going for the safe option of choosing foreign spinners such as Patel of Warwickshire  or  an older  English spinner,   regardless of potential of the young spinner . For example, forty-year-old Gary Keedy played for  Notts in the last few Championship matches of the season  despite Notts having a very talented off-spinning allrounder in Sam Wood. Or how about Danny Briggs, the Hampshire  slow left armer who has played for  England in ODI and T20 cricket being  left out because the Pakistani  Imran Tahir was available.

There are other  young  spinners who have recently turned in good second eleven performances ,  but who have not been able to establish themselves in as Championship players, bowlers such as Lilley  (ROB) of Lancs, Beer (LBG) of Sussex, Sykes (SLA) of Leicester,   Taylor (ROB) of Hants,  Craddock (LBG)  of Essex, Leach (SLA) of Somerset and MacQueen  (ROB) of Surrey.  They need to be given a chance soon or else they will simply drift out of the first class game.

It is also worth wondering if  spin bowling talent is simply being ignored. Nick Gubbins  of Middlesex who made his Championship debut this year ,  took ten wickets cheaply in a second XI CC match with his leg spin in 2013, yet  has not bowled much in second eleven games since nor  in any of his first team Championship games.

Returning to uncovered pitches, ending pitch inspectors (see below), ensuring there are reasonable sized boundaries  and restricting the weight of bats would all help to reinvigorate spin bowling in England.

Over zealous pitch regulation

A major part of the reason for the decline in spin is the interference of  the ECB in pitch preparation.  Until the  Championship moved from 3-day to 4-day games counties could prepare pitches as they wished without any fear of having points deducted. Counties used to play to their bowling strength by preparing pitches to suit their bowlers. For example, in the 1950s if a team went to play Derby at Buxton they knew the pitch would be a seamer’s paradise to suit Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin. If a county visited  Bristol  it was a fair bet the pitch would turn on the first morning for John Mortimer, David Allen and Sam Cook to work on. A visit to the Oval would guarantee a nightmare pitch which helped all of Surrey’s great attack of Bedser, Loader, Laker and Lock.  Easy pickings you say?  Yet Peter May averaged nearly 50 on it during the 1950s. Demanding pitches sort out the sheep from the goats.

Counties should be allowed to prepare their pitches as they see fit. Doubtless a cry would go up from the  ECB that it would not produce cricket which prepared players to play for England. This is simple nonsense. In the 1950s, when bowlers were the most dominant in county cricket  they had been since 1914,  England enjoyed arguably its most successful decade, with no series being lost from the end of the 1950/51 Ashes series to the 1958/9 Ashes series.

The 1950s saw county cricket producing  such players as  players: May, Barrington, Graveney,  Dexter, Cowdrey,  Pullar, Richardson,  Sheppard, Tyson, Trueman, Statham,  Loader, Lock, Titmus, Illingworth and  Appleyard,  whilst   players established before the 1950s such as Hutton, Washbrook, Compton, Bill Edrich, Bailey, Evans, Wardle, Alec  Bedser continued to thrive.   If English cricket did not reach the same general level after the 1950s,   it was not because of pitches being too demanding  for batsmen or overly easy for bowlers.

Pitches which give the bowler a chance  do not create a false sense of ability in the bowler because the quality of the batsmen also improves as they learn to counter more difficult conditions.   English bowlers had great success at Test level in the 1950s. No  England bowler who played more than ten Tests in the decade  ended with a Test average of over  30 and only Trevor Bailey (an all-rounder not a specialist bowler)  had a Test average of more than 27 at the end of the 1950s. Laker, Lock, Wardle, Trueman , Appleyard and Tyson all had Test averages of under 22.   This emphatically shows that having helpful pitches to bowl on in county cricket does not inflate  judgements of their ability.

The other objection to doing away with pitch inspectors is that games would be over too quickly. This is  easily countered.    Many four day Championship games already finish early, a fair number of them within three days. It is also true that when Championship games were played over three days on uncovered pitches prepared as counties wanted  to prepare them, a substantial proportion of  games either resulted in draws or contrived finishes with declarations.  Counties also have a vested interest in games not finishing early because it both reduces revenue at the gate and from catering and devalues county memberships.

There is no reason to believe that allowing counties to prepare pitches they choose would make a radical change in the length of matches. Moreover, by allowing the counties to prepare the pitches to suit their bowlers this would produce much more varied cricket than we presently see. That would be an attraction for the spectators.

The decline of close fielding

The outfielding may have improved in recent times, although I think much of this belief may arise from the spectacular nature of the slide tackle stop rather than any massive actual improvement in overall run-saving. What is indubitably poorer today  is the close catching, especially slip catching.  Why is this? I suspect the answer is very simple: the death of the specialist close catcher.    In the 1950s and indeed for almost all of cricket’s first class history close catchers spent almost all their time in the same position. Who ever saw Cowdrey,  Phil Sharp or Bobby Simpson anywhere but slip?  This constant practice improved them and kept them sharp. These days fielders are frequently moved all over the place and the skill level in close positions is inevitably lowered. Come to think of it, this practice may also affect other positions. When did you last see a really top class cover?

The bogus nature of two divisional cricket

The introduction of two divisions into English cricket has three drawbacks:

  1. It is bogus. The oft made claim s by its supporters that the gap between the two divisions is massive goes against the facts, namely, the frequent changes in fortune from one season to the next of clubs, most notably demonstrated by Lancashire winning the Championship in 2012 and being relegated the next year.   Unfortunately, many players buy into the propaganda and also think that the England selectors will not choose them if they play into the second division of the Championship. This is causing many of the best players from the smaller counties to leave for counties which are thought to have the best chances of remaining in division one. The move  sometimes backfires as it has in the case of Nathan Buck who left Leicestershire for Lancashire at the end of the 2014 season and finds himself in the second division because  Lancashire have  been relegated once more.  Nonetheless, it is possible that over time there  really will be a large gap in quality opening up simply because of the propaganda that it already has done and the related idea that the England selectors favour division one players.
  2. The division of   the Championship into two divisions means that cricket followers are deprived of seeing half the county teams if they go top watch the county they support.
  3. It complicates the fixture list – see below.

The chaotic fixture list

The 2014 fixture list was seriously defective because of the way in which Championship cricket was treated.  The Championship season began  on 6 April and ended on 26 September,  a total of 172 or 24 weeks and 4 days.

Each county had to play only 16 Championship games,   so spreading them fairly evenly between 172 days should have been a piece of cake. It did not happen. Instead half the Championship matches  had been played by early June.   The rate of Championship games slowed , Between  15 June and 24 July  a mere  36 Championship games were  played . But this was riches compared with what followed. Between 24 July and 15 August  only a single round of Championship games was held.  The rest of the  Championship season was then crowded into  September when four rounds were played.  This dislocation of the Championship was compounded by many of the games starting on different days.

This unsatisfactory state of affairs was partly down to the wilful disregard for the Championship as a valuable thing in its own right.  The limited overs completions were given unashamed priority. This showed most blatantly in the placing of the 50 overs competition in August which was the reason so little Championship was played in August.  But the existence of two divisions in the Championship and the group organisation of  the T20 and 50 over competitions  also played a large part because they complicated matters. A team in one division would often have to play a  T20 or 50 over game against a team from  a different division of the County Championship.

What would be a better fixture list? I suggest this.

  1. The season should begin on 1 May and end on 18 September, a total of 140 days or 20 weeks.
  2. The Championship should revert to being a single division. With each county playing the others once.
  3. The T20 competition should be a league with each county playing the others once.
  4. Each of the seventeen championship games and seventeen T20 games to be played together. The T20 game would be played on the Friday immediately  followed by the Championship game starting on the Saturday. For example, Yorkshire would play  Lancashire at home with the T20 on a Friday and the Championship game on the Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.   That would allow the players two days off on Wednesday and Thursday.  Such a regime would capture the end of working week audience for the T20 and give two normally  non-working  days in the week  to the Championship match.

As there are twenty weeks in the season there would be three weeks free . Those could be used to  fit in a  50 overs knock out competition at the end of the season and a few matches against touring sides.

Championship cricket has a value in its own right 

The County Championship  has become diminished in the public’s eyes   because  the counties and administrators have too often taken the view that  the completion is purely a breeding ground for  the England team from which most of English cricket’s funding now comes.  This attitude has been increasingly  taken up by the mainstream media which has remorselessly concentrated  ever more on the rapidly  expanding number of international matches England plays  whilst greatly contracting the coverage of county matches. The tabloids have more or less stopped covering Championship cricket , whilst even the  broadsheets such as the Daily Telegraph no longer have match reports on every Championship game as they used to do. The one bright spot in the media  gloom has been  the BBC’s  extensive commentary of Championship matches on Radio 5 extra in the past few years. However, there is no guarantee that will continue, or that BBC local radio will continue to cover matches.

The idea that the County Championship is simply or even primarily a training ground for England players is unsustainable. It may do service for a another decade or so but eventually  it will die if that is the only message which goes out to the public. That is  because it is an uninspiring  idea  which suggests that the Championship  has no value in itself.

If  County cricket dies it is difficult to see where the supply of players for the England side would come  from. Out of city franchises? Regional teams? Back to the future with All-England elevens of various descriptions simply drawing players from club cricket and touring as a cricketing version of the Harlem Globe Trotters? ? Hardly viable? All of those possibilities would have far less resonance with supporters than the counties.

If the healthy condition of county cricket is the best guarantor for  English cricket to be healthy,  what can be done to keep it safe?  At  present Championship cricket  is effectively never advertised to the general public or even to the cricket loving part of it.  The ECB  and the counties need to realise that  spending a  substantial part of the money they get from broadcasting rights  on promoting  Championship cricket would be money well spent.    Make it more publicly  visible  not only would attendances rise but  the mainstream media will be  more likely to take an interest.

There is also a simple way of boosting Championship  attendance which would cost next to nothing. Allow free entry to a Championship match for a day on the production of the ticket stub from an England game of any sort, Test, ODI or T20. As several  hundreds of thousands of people go to watch England in England every summer ,  this could potentially boost Championship attendances very substantially even if  people simply take the free day’s Championship cricket and do not go to other days for which they paid.  Although there would be no entry money such spectators  would  boost sales of refreshments and purchases from the club shop. Moreover,  the experience of a free day’s spectating  could well result in people coming back to pay for entry in the future or even to take out county memberships.  The scheme is worked out in detail here .

Increased attendances  would make Championship cricket more attractive to the mainstream media and to sponsors.  That is the bottom line both in terms of economics and the long term health of English cricket

But if Championship cricket is to be successfully  promoted,  it is essential that the counties ensure that they have the facilities to cope with decent size crowds, that the games are played throughout the season not crammed into the beginning and end of it, entry prices are  reasonable – counties are starting to get too greedy – and the catering is  both decent and not priced to cost an arm and a leg.

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The BBC and “coloured  players“

Robert Henderson

Twice in the past few days  two  interviewees from the football world  on Radio 5 have used the word coloured in connection with  black players  when discussing the possible introduction of the Rooney Rule into English football. The so-called rule comes from America and  in the English context makes  compulsory the interviewing of at least one black candidate where a managerial  or head coach position in a professional football  team is to be filled.

The first occasion was by the Wigan FC owner Dave Wheelan  (3 Oct),  who repeatedly referred to “coloured players” .  Nothing was said during the interview, but immediately it was over the presenter  in best politically correct fashion said in the peculiarly noxious tones of a white liberal affecting outrage that they were apologising for language in the interview “which listeners may have found offensive”.  Interestingly, the BBC  written item which referred to Whelan’s appearance discussing the Rooney Rule subject did not mention that he had used the phrase “black footballers”.

On the Stephen Nolan programme (4 Oct) the very experienced English football manager Dave Bassett  and the black basketball player  John Amaechi   engaged in an extended row over the same phrase  coloured footballers,  plus variations on it (go into to the recording at 35 minutes) .  Amaechi  jumped in after the first two uses  of “coloured players” with ”This is 2014 and I’m listening to someone talk about  using coloured players. For the love of God are  you kidding me?”.

Judged by his  frequent  British media appearances Amaechi  is a naturally petulant and childishly abusive personality. He  proceeded to try  to patronise Bassett, a working-class man without much education, by referring to his (Amaechi’s)  academic qualification in psychology and saying  with heavy sarcasm that he might just have the edge over Bassett when it came to judging human behaviour. This merely made Amaechi look like an unpleasant boor at best and a deeply insecure man at worst.  Amaechi added to this bad impression by constantly insulting Bassett by objecting to any attempt by Bassett to get a word in edgeways by shrieking something along the lines of don’t interrupt me, it’s rude.

The presenter Nolan made precious little attempt to restrain Amaechi’s rudeness or give Bassett a fair chance to speak. In addition, he backed up  up Amaechi by several times saying to Bassett that the word coloured in this  context was “inappropriate” . So much for BBC staff not expressing opinions.

Greatly to his credit Bassett stuck to his guns and refused to apologise , during his time on air or, according to Nolan, afterwards – Nolan said that Bassett had stood by his use of the phrase after he left the airwaves.  Whilst on air he made the very good point that managers and coaches in English professional football frequently did not represent the percentage of the players involved from various groups such as the Northern Irish or Welsh. He also opposed the introduction of the Rooney Rule.

The attempt to stop the use of coloured is a prime example of how racial, ethnic and other minorities such as gays try to exert power generally over society .  This is both sinister  – control of language is the tool of dictators – and  unreasonable, because while  a group may call themselves whatever they choose , they  have no moral right to impose their chosen  term  upon those outside of the group. The moral abuse caused by imposition  becomes  especially  sharp where there is a different word used by the population in which they live which is not abusive.  That is the case with coloured.  The term was for more than a century  the polite term for blacks.   The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People was founded in 1909 in the USA and continues with the title today.   There is little serious complaint about the use of coloured in the title of that  organisation, while the  mixed race (white/black mixture)  population of South Africa is still called coloured.  Ironically, the term black  occupied the same position as coloured does now fifty years ago.

On the Rooney Rule question, it would be just another granting of privilege to a racial minority. Nor is  it clear who would count as black in these circumstances. How black would you have to be? One half black, quarter black , one eighth black?  What of someone with one parent who has black ancestry who looks white? (genetics can produce some unexpected results). Would every racial and ethnic minority be  allowed  climb on the bandwagon?

On a purely practical level where would  the large number of black and Asian qualified managers and senior coaches required to meet the  interviewee quota come from? Would it be a very small group who went from interview to interview?  After all, if there are only two black managers in the top 92 English league clubs , who exactly could be meaningfully called for interview? By definition  these would all be inexperienced  so how on earth could many if any be considered for clubs in the  tope toe English divisions, the Premier  League and the Championship?   Even at the level of formal coaching qualifications there would be a problem because few black  or Asian footballers  are taking their advanced coaching badges.

The group which is scandalously under represented in football both as players and managers is of course the English, who have been relentlessly squeezed out since the formation of the Premier League in 1992 and foreign owners, managers and players flooded in as English League  football became ever more lucrative and prestigious.  The result is that the English have become second-class citizens in their own professional football. That is the  inequality which needs addressing.

NB If you want to catch the Nolan programme recording , do so quickly because it will only be available on IPlayer at  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04jj29l   fro another 4 days.

Posted in Culture, Nationhood, Sport | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Devolution and an in-out referendum Part 2 – The hard facts to be put before the Celts

Devolution and an in-out referendum

Part 2 – The hard facts to be put before the Celts

Posted on October 5, 2014 by Robert Henderson in EditorialElections // 1 Comment
In part 1 I looked at the UK electoral arithmetic which suggested that England might well  vote to leave the EU  while one or more of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would vote to stay in the EU.  I then proposed a strategy to diminish the stay-in vote in the Celtic nations. This was to bring home the realities of life in and outside the UK for Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland.
The primary matters the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish should be reminded of before they vote to leave the UK are:
  1. Wales and Northern Ireland are economic basket-cases which rely heavily on English taxpayers to fund their public expenditure. To lose that subsidy would cripple them both. Nor would they get anything like as much extra funding from the EU – assuming it would have them as members – as they would lose from the end of the English subsidy.
Scotland is in a better position because it is larger and has, for the present at least, significant oil revenues.  But it is a very narrow economy relying very heavily on public service employment – a significant part of which deals with the administration of English public service matters – while the private business side of is largely comprised of oil and gas, whiskey, food, tourism and financial services.
The figures below are the latest official estimates of the tax raised in each of the four home countries to the end of the 2012/13 financial year. These figures should not be treated as exact to the last million because there are difficulties in allocating revenue to particular parts of the UK, for example, with corporation tax, but they are broadly indicative of what each country collects in tax.  I give two sets of figures to show the differences when oil and gas is allocated on a geographical and a population basis.
2012-13
UK                England    %           Wales      %       Scotland   %        Northern Ireland %
469,777   400,659 85.3%    16,337 3.5%   42,415 9.0%       10,331   2.6%
469,777   404,760 86.2%    16,652 3.5%   37,811 8.0%        10,518    2.6%
Compare this with public spending for each of three small home countries in the calendar year 2013 (I was unable to find expenditure figures for the financial year but they would be little different) :
Scotland      £53.9 billion  – difference  of £12 billion approx. between tax raised and money spent
Wales            £29.8 billion   – difference of £13 billion approx. between tax raised and money spent
Ireland         £19.8 billion   – difference of £9 billion approx. between tax raised and money spent
NB differences between tax raised and money spent are based on Table 1 figures which give the most favourable interpretation of Scotland’s tax position.
The three smaller countries are accumulating debt at a much greater rate than England.  In addition, small countries which go independent would find raising the money to meet their overspends would be much more expensive than the cost of financing the debt as part of the UK
  1. The vast majority of their trade is with England. Barriers created by England’s departure from the EU could have very serious economic consequences any of other home countries remained within the EU.
  2. Much of what they export to countries outside the EU has to pass through England.
  3. All three countries would be net takers from the EU budget not contributors. The EU is unlikely to welcome with open arms an additional three small pensioner nations. There would be no guarantee that the EU would accept any or all of them as members, but even if it did the terms they would have to accept would be far more onerous and intrusive than they experience now. In particular, they would almost certainly have to join the Euro as this is a condition for all new members.
  4. An England or a reduced UK outside the EU would have to impose physical border controls because any part of the UK which seceded and joined the EU would be committed to the free movement of labour within the EU (more exactly the European Economic Area – EEA). That would mean any number of immigrants from the EEA would be able to enter either England or a reduced UK via whichever part(s) of the UK had seceded and joined the EU.
  5. Being part of the UK gives the smaller home countries great security because the UK still has considerable military clout – ultimately Britain is protected by nuclear weapons – and the size of the population (around 62 million and rising) is sufficient in itself to give any aggressor pause for thought. The proposal for armed forces made in the SNP sponsored White Paper on independence recommended armed forces of 10,000 regulars to start with rising to 15,000 if circumstances permitted.   That would be laughable as a defence force for a country the size of Scotland which has huge swathes of land with very few people on that land.  An independent Wales and N Ireland would be even worse off militarily.
  6. They could not expect to walk away from the Union without taking on a share of the UK national debt and of taxpayer funded pension liabilities proportional to their population, have a currency union to share the Pound, have UK government contracts for anything or retain the jobs exported from England to do administrative public sector work  for England, for example, much of the English welfare administration is dealt with in Scotland.
If this is done, with any luck the enthusiasm for leaving the UK to join the EU if England or England plus one or more of the other home countries has voted to leave the EU will diminish sufficiently to make a vote to remain in the EU unlike or at least reduce the vote to stay in to level where there is not an overwhelming vote to either stay in or leave.
Posted in Devolution, Economics, Immigration, Nationhood | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Devolution and an EU In/Out Referendum – The Electoral Arithmetic – UKIP Daily

Devolution and an EU In/Out Referendum – The Electoral Arithmetic

Posted on October 3, 2014 by Robert Henderson in EditorialElections // 2 Comments
Little attention is being given to the implications for an IN/OUT referendum of the ever more potent devolution being granted within the UK.  A policy needs to be developed because there is every chance that England will vote to leave the EU while one or more of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (and probably all three) will vote to stay in. That would produce a serious constitutional crisis especially if the three small home countries get much greater powers than they have now.
An England voting to leave and at least one of Scotland, Wales and N Ireland voting to stay is plausible.   This could happen even with a fairly small majority in England voting to leave.   How would the electoral arithmetic stack up?  The official number of registered electors qualified to vote inParliamentary elections are
  • England – 38,837,300, a rise of 0.5 per cent
  • Wales – 2,301,100, a rise of 0.1 per cent
  • Scotland – 3,985,300, a rise of 1.1 per cent
  • Northern Ireland – 1,230,200, a rise of 1.4 per cent
Assuming for the sake of simplifying the example there is a 100% turnout, then 23,176,951 votes would be needed for a vote to leave the EU.  If England voted by 60% to leave that would produce 23,302,380 votes to leave, more than would be required for a simple majority.
But that is obviously not the full picture. There would be a substantial vote to leave in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The combined electorate of Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland in 2012 was 7,516,600.  If 70% of those voted to remain in the EU, that would make only 5,261,620 votes.   There would be 2,254,980 votes to leave.  If England voted 54% to leave (20, 972,142 votes) the votes to leave in the whole of the UK would be   23,227, 122 (20, 972,142 +2,254,980), enough to win the referendum.
(Editor: The way to test this is with a sensitivity analysis, and we add the table below to the article:
Referendum Sensitivity
This shows that if the Celtic vote for OUT is bolstered to 40%, the English vote could go as low as 52%)
Of course that is not how the vote would be in the real world. The turnout would be nowhere near 100% although it might well be over eighty per cent if the Scottish referendum is a guide.   How   Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would vote is of course uncertain, but I have allotted such a generous proportion of the vote to the stay in side in those countries that it is unlikely I have seriously over-estimated the vote to leave.  What the example does show is that under any likely voting circumstances there would not need to be a very strong YES to leaving vote in England to override a very strong vote to remain part of the EU in one or more of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If there was such an unbalanced result, that is with England voting to leave and the other three countries voting to stay or even if just one of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland voting to remain in the EU, this would ostensibly produce a potentially incendiary situation, especially if  Westminster politicians keep on grovelling to the Celtic Fringe as they did during the Scottish independence referendum., a practice which  grossly inflated the idea of  Scotland’s ability to be independent without any pain in many Scots’ minds.
I said an ostensibly incendiary situation because in reality there would be little appetite to leave the UK if the hard truths of what leaving the UK and joining the EU would mean were placed in front of voters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  England or England plus one or two of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be a completely different kettle of fish compared with Scotland leaving the UK with the rUK still in the EU. If any of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland wished to leave the UK they would  and join the EU with the rest of the UK or just England outside of the EU they would be faced with an England or a remnant UK state which had regained its freedom of action and would not be bound by EU law.
The strategy of those in who want the UK to leave the EU should be to reduce the idea amongst voters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that leaving the UK and joining the EU after a UK vote to leave has taken place would not be an easy choice.  What is required is a pre-emptive strike before the referendum pointing out to voters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the realities of their relationship with the EU and the UK in the hope of diminishing the vote to stay in those countries.
This is something which should have been done during the Scottish referendum.  Indeed, the refusal of the Better Together side of the argument to point out these realities was one of the prime reasons for the NO vote not being much larger than it was, handsome as that result was.  The unionist side generally was also deeply patronising to the Scots with their line that only Scots could have a say in the debate and that the rest of the union had to keep quiet for fear of upsetting the Scots and driving them to a YES vote.  It implied that Scots are something less than adults who could not either bear contrary views or have the wit to listen to hard facts about reality.
There will be a second part to this article: The hard facts to put before the Celts.
Posted in Devolution, Nationhood | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Book Review – Sea Changes

Derek Turner

Washington Summit Publishers

ISBN  978-1-59368-002-2

By Robert Henderson

The time is somewhere around the present: the place is England. Thirty seven  bodies wash-up on the North-East coast of England. Some have gunshot wounds. All are would-be illegal immigrants.  There is one survivor from the group: Ibrahim, an Iraqi.   This is the cue for the politically correct  mob to go into action, with everything from the-borders- are-racist  campaigners to those who pounce on the evidence of gunshot wounds to suggest that some of the illegal immigrants were  murdered by the locals.

The novel  has two strands. One is of the survivor Ibrahim. He has had the misfortune to spend all his life in uncertain circumstances, living under the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, both before and after the first Gulf War, then through  the perpetual  chaos following the defeat of  Saddam. We follow him on his tortuous journey from Basra to England,  during which we gradually learn more  and more of his story,  a history which includes working as an enforcer for a notorious Basra gangster. He moves from Basra in Iraq to Syria, across Turkey, then by boat to Greece where he is interred in a centre of asylum seekers before escaping and travelling across Europe before paying to be smuggled across the North Sea to England.

Once in England he finds being an illegal immigrant is not all milk and honey.   This is partly his own fault because he fabricates a  story which falsely  paints him as a someone who resisted Saddam and suffered for it, a lie which is discovered and takes the gloss off him as a weapon for the politically correct to wield, but it is also the disillusionment of finding the promised land does not do what it says on the tin.   The result is Ibrahim’s withdrawal into the cultural cocoon created by other Iraqis in Britain.

Surrounding  Ibrahim’s  tale is the English response to the bodies on an English beach. In the politically correct world that is modern England  the would-be illegal immigrants are taken up as not the invaders they are, but people who at best have been murdered by the immigration policies of the government which have forced them to take this route to enter England and at worst   to believe that those who died of gun wounds  have been slaughtered  by the unreconstructed English who inhabit non-Metropolitan England.

The  peecee  fox is started running by a  farmer local to the area where the bodies wash up. A farmer  in late middle age by the name of  Dan Gowt living in the fictional village of Crisby.   He is interviewed on  television and expresses views which would have passed without remark when he was young,  but are now considered not merely insensitive but positively racist, remarks such as. “The fact is they shouldn’t have been trying to get intro England in the first place. It’s a crime that is. It’s just common sense … “

His words make Gowt  a media  hate figure. He tries to remove the label of racist  by talking to the media, writing a letter to a newspaper explaining his position, seeking a lawyer to sue on his behalf for the libels he has suffered.  All to no avail. His explanations to reporters are twisted out of recognition, his letter is not published and his attempt to find a lawyer to act for him results in a refusal on the grounds that acting for him would taint the firm.

Gowt  finds many of the people he knows shun him, his wife and daughter are treated as guilty by association and his windows are smashed by “antiracist” protestors, whom he goes outside to tackle with a shotgun but who  drive away before he can come upon them.  After the last event he calls the police who not only show little interest  in investigating the crime,  but tell him that he has brought this on himself and his family by his racist words. The police go as far as to say threateningly that he is lucky he has not to have been investigated for his racist words and hinting that he may still be.  They are also pleased to suggest that his licence for his shotgun may be revoked because he has intended to threaten  people with it.

Gowt being labelled a racist affects his  wife Hatty and his daughter Clarrie. His wife is simply bewildered; his daughter patronisingly tolerant as  she condemns what her father has said   whilst blaming his ideas about immigrants on his age, what   Marxists would describe as “false consciousness”

The really terrible thing about all this is the fact that  Gowt  has not been racist in any meaningful way. All he has done is express a perfectly natural resistance to foreigners settling his country in large numbers and effectively colonising parts of it.

Turner parades a large  cast of characters before the reader. This can often lead to confusion and the under  development  of characters. To his credit the author keeps control  of them by repeatedly  providing snapshots of their  intervention in the affair.  We may not get to know them intimately ,  but we do not need to because it is  their symbolic roles in the tragedy that is modern England which is important.

There are the  politicians varying from fearful pc driven sheep to true believers in the One  Worldism creed,  the journalists who use their newspapers and broadcasters  to carry forward the pc received wisdom and last but not least  the multifarious interest groups and individuals who represent immigrant interests: the Black Muslim Mecca Morrow ,  Wayne Smith of the Christian Democrat Reachout , Atrocities against Civilians Scum,  the Rural Racism Task Force ,Ben Klein  founder of  National Anti-Fascist Foundation NAFF,  Dylan Ekinutu-Jones  of the Forum for Racial and Ethnic Equality (F.R.E.E) , Carole Hassan from the Muslim Alliance and the   Guatamalean Action Group.  Readers will be able to readily spot their counterparts in real life.

The political parties are also thinly disguised version of those that exist: the Christian Democrats, the Workers Party and  the Fair Play Alliance. All are shown not  merely as dishonest but either fanatical or cowardly.  There is also a party, the National Union,  which plays the indispensable  role  for the politically correct,  a Far Right bogeyman.    The Party has a single MP who is ostentatiously ostracised by all the other MPs who eventually vote to expel him from the Commons because of his non-pc views.

There are more substantial characters such as Albert Norman of the Sentinel . Norman  is a licensed jester , a man of 70 allowed to be non-pc in a pc world  largely because he is a relic of an earlier less tightly controlled era.  He also serves a useful purpose for the liberal left establishment because they can point to him and say there, all voices are being heard. Norman’s tragedy is that he is right but ultimately irrelevant because the people who listen to him and agree  are the powerless, the ordinary people of England.

Norman is the one character who sniffs out the truth about Ibrahim, as well as resolutely refusing to climb  on the English-locals-must-have-killed-immigrants  bandwagon . His  columns are wildly popular but the his  youngish editor Doug is getting twitchy about their  political incorrectness .  He asks  Norman to tone down his columns because he wishes to move the Sentinel to a new  part of the press marketplace.  Norman resists but eventually gives  in and  re-writes a piece about  Ibrahim.  Norman’s readers  feel cheated by his new blandness and Norman soon realises that his day is done and retires.

Opposed to Norman on the media front is John Leyden of The Examiner, a columnist who takes a religiously pc on everything whilst being , as so often with card carrying liberals, monstrously selfish  and bigoted in the way they live their lives.  Leyden thinks no further than the next self-promoting headline, regardless of the harm he inflicts on others.  Just think of the more obnoxious type of Guardian journalist and you will get the picture.

Overall Turner paints a picture of an England  which has been defeated, at least for the moment.  The pc  propaganda has not  been completely successful,  so that part of the population of England has remained in the eyes of the politically correct regrettably backward.  But even that part of which has not been fully conditioned understands the danger of being identified as a racist and either keeps mum, clumsily try to fit their true feelings within the envelope of political correctness,  or engage in grovelling apologies when the racist hounds start to run after they  are judged to have committed the pc sin of not being thoroughly brainwashed  into the multicultural way of thinking. The claustrophobia created by what political correctness has become, namely, a totalitarian ideology in both form and practice is nicely caught .

There is a degree of exaggeration for the sake of narrative sharpness  in the depiction of the limp calamity of the people of England in thrall to  a vicious and recklessly ideological elite, but sadly  the book is an all too plausible representation of what England is now. This is a country in which people are imprisoned for expressing their anger at mass immigration, where a single non-PC remark can result in the loss of a job, where the mainstream media go into witchfinder-general mode at the slightest opportunity offered by someone who does not religiously observe the pc  rubric of equality.

Those who have read Jean  Raspail’s Camp of the Saints will notice some generally similarities of structure as well as  intent in Sea Changes. There is no harm in that. Indeed I found Sea Changes a rather better vehicle for warning about the dangers of mass immigration, because it is far less hysterical and blessedly bereft of the intellectual and cultural pretensions of Raspail’s book.

Sea Changes might almost be treated as a documentary of what has gone sadly wrong with English society. Yes, that is what it is, a record of what English society has become now,, or at least of that aspect which touches on mass  immigration and its consequences .  Whatever the future brings it will stand as a primer on a particular and decidedly peculiar period of English life. Worth reading on its own virtue as a novel and doubly worth reading for its important  message.

Posted in Book reviews, Immigration | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The persecution of Emma West continues

Robert Henderson

Emma West  was arrested in November 2011 after she protested about immigration whilst travelling on a bus. Her protest was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube as well as being copied by many national media outlets. The video was  viewed millions of times.

Following the upload of the video Emma was arrested, held in the UK’s highest security prison for women , released and then subjected to a year and a half’s intimidation by the state as the powers-that-be desperately tried to get her to plead guilty to charges relating to racially motivated serious crimes (racially aggravated intentional harassment and racially aggravated assault)  which would have almost certainly sent her to prison. Eventually, worn down by the stress she pleaded guilty to the  lesser charge of racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.

I say Emma’s outburst was a protest against immigration because that is precisely what it is. Here are some of her comments:

She says: “What’s this country coming too?

“A load of black people and and load of f***ing Polish.”

One commuter challenges West, who rounds on him telling him: “You aren’t English”, to which he replies “No, I’m not”

She then scans the tram, pointing out people one-by-one, saying: “You ain’t English, you ain’t English, None of you are f***ing English.

“Get back to your own f***ing countries.”

“Britain is nothing now, Britain is f***k all.

“My Britain is f**k all now.”

You can argue that is foulmouthed,  but you cannot argue it is anything but a protest against immigration. In fact, it is the most grass-root form of political protest there is, namely, directly engaging with the effects of policy.

Emma lives in a country which has been made unrecognisable by the permitting of mass immigration for over sixty years. Neither Emma nor any other native English man or woman (or Briton come to that) has had any say in this invasion of the country. This most fundamental act of treason has been committed by generations of British politicians who to date have got away with their crime. But to continue to get away with the crime the guilty men and women need to suppress public protest against what they have done.  That is why the authorities were so desperate to get to plead guilty. She was a refusnik and they could not let that pass.  That she resorted to foul language in her frustration is entirely understandable.

But those with power were not satisfied simply with her criminal conviction. Emma has now had her livelihood as a dental nurse taken away by the General Medical Council with this preternaturally smug judgement:

A [Dental Council] spokeswoman said: “Her conduct was truly appalling.

“It clearly has the capacity to bring the profession into disrepute and to undermine public confidence in its standards.

“Furthermore, her violent and abusive conduct would demonstrate a real risk to the safety of patients.

“In relation to her racially aggravated offence, this was committed in a public setting and received further public exposure, as a person had uploaded the video clip to the internet which has been viewed extensively.”

So there you have it, political correctness can not only send you into the clutches of the law but take your means of living away.

For the full story of Emma West’ persecution see

The oppression of Emma West : the politically correct end game plays out

Robert Henderson In November 2011 Emma West was arrested  and subsequently charged for a racially aggravated public order offence (http://englandcalling.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/emma-west-immigration-and-the-liberal-totalitarian-state/). The charges concerned her  public denunciation of the effects of mass immigration whilst on a tram in Croydon,  a suburb … Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Immigration, Nationhood, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 61 Comments | Edit

Emma West and the State – The State has its way (sort of)

Robert Henderson Emma West has finally been worn down. Eighteen months after she was charged with racially aggravated intentional harassment and racially aggravated assault , she has agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of racially aggravated harassment, alarm … Continue reading

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Emma West’s trial scheduled for the sixth time

Robert Henderson Emma West was due to stand trial at Croydon Crown Court for  two racially aggravated public order offences  arising from her complaint about  mass immigration and its effects made on a Croydon tram  in November 2011 . The … Continue reading

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Emma West trial scheduled for the fifth time

Robert Henderson A fifth, yes that’s fifth,  date for the start of Emma West’s trial on criminal charges arising from her complaint about  mass immigration and its effects made on a Croydon tram  in November 2011 has been set  for  … Continue reading

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What has happened to Emma West?

Robert Henderson It is now 14 months since Emma West was charged with racially aggravated public order offences after she got into an argument on a tram which led her to make loud complaint about the effects of mass immigration. … Continue reading

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Emma West trial delayed for the third time

Robert Henderson The trial of Emma West on racially aggravated public order offences has been delayed for the third time ( http://www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk/Emma-West-trial-adjourned-time/story-16820636-detail/story.html ).  No further date has been set.   The trial was originally scheduled for June, then July and finally September … Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Nationhood, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments | Edit

Emma West has her trial delayed yet again

The trial of Emma West on two racially aggravated public order offences has been put back to 5 September to allow further medical reports (http://www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk/Trial-alleged-YouTube-tram-racist-Emma-West-moved/story-16543355-detail/story.html).  Her trial was meant to take place on 17th July but a request for … Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Nationhood, Politics | Tagged , , , , ,, , | 12 Comments | Edit

Courage is the best defence against charges of racism

Robert Henderson The trial of Emma West on two racially aggravated public order charges which was scheduled for 11 June has been postponed until 16 July to enable further psychiatric reports to be prepared. (http://www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk/Emma-West-race-rant-trial-moved-July/story-16346869-detail/story.html). As Miss West was charged … Continue reading

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Emma West, immigration and the Liberal totalitarian state part 3

Robert Henderson Emma West appeared at Croydon magistrates court on 3rd January.  She  will stand trial  on  two racially aggravated public order offences, one with intent to cause fear. She will next appear in court  – Croydon Crown Court –  … Continue reading

Posted in Anglophobia, Immigration, Nationhood, Politics | Tagged , , , , ,, , , | 12 Comments | Edit

Emma West, immigration and the Liberal totalitarian state part 2

Robert Henderson Emma West has been remanded in custody until 3rd of January when she will appear at Croydon Crown Court (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/tram-race-rant-woman-court-052333359.html).  By 3rd January she will in, effect , have served a custodial sentence of 37 days,  [RH She was … Continue reading

Posted in Anglophobia, Culture, Immigration, Nationhood, Politics | Tagged , , , ,, , , | 23 Comments | Edit

Emma West, immigration and the Liberal totalitarian state

Emma West of New Addington, London has been arrested and placed in “protective custody” following the publication on YouTube of  a two minute 25 second  recording labelled by the YouTube poster as “Racist British Woman on the Tram goes CRAZY …Continue reading

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The Scottish referendum and the accidental emergence of the English voice

Robert Henderson

The outcome of the Scottish independence referendum has resulted in the breaking of a particularly effective omerta within the British political classes, namely, that there should be no acknowledgement of the wilful damage done to English interests by the devolution settlement of the late 1990s which has excluded her from having a national political voice while Scotland, Wales and Northern  Ireland were given such a voice and ever increasing devolved powers.

Having denied England her due for 16 years the Tory Party has suddenly embraced the idea constitutional equality with the rest of the UK, with the necessary changes being made in tandem with the new powers so recklessly promised by Gordon Brown during the last days of the Referendum campaign.    No matter that the Tory Party has had this sudden conversion to being the upholder of English interests because it is a way of marginalising the Labour Party through both threatening to remove the influence of its many non-English seat MP and placing it in a very awkward position if they do not back the idea a strong English political voice; no matter that so far all that is proposed is English votes for English laws rather than an English Parliament; no matter that the Labour and LibDem leaders have rejected the idea. What matters is that the English devolution train has started to move and once moving it will be very difficult to stop.

Cameron’s “solution” to the constitutional imbalance

The morning after the NO in the Scottish independence  referendum vote David  Cameron  proposed  this:

“Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs.

The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved and enhanced as well.

It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of our United Kingdom.

In Wales, there are proposals to give the Welsh Government and Assembly more powers.

And I want Wales to be at the heart of the debate on how to make our United Kingdom work for all our nations.

In Northern Ireland, we must work to ensure that the devolved institutions function effectively.

I have long believed that a crucial part missing from this national discussion is England.

We have heard the voice of Scotland – and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard.

The question of English votes for English laws – the so-called West Lothian question –requires a decisive answer.

So, just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues and all this must take place in tandem with, and at the same pace as, the settlement for Scotland.”

Whether Cameron could deliver much of this in the seven months before the General Election is highly dubious, both on the  grounds of time and the difficulty of getting agreement with the other major Westminster parties . Labour leader Ed Miliband has already refused to back the idea of linking English constitutional reform to the granting of extra powers to Scotland. This is for a crude political interest   reason: without Labour MPs from outside of England the Labour Party would have no chance of forming a government in England for the foreseeable future.  LibDem leader Nick Clegg has also refused to back Cameron’s proposal,  but  will support the formation of an English Grand Committee to scrutinise and amend English-only legislation. However,  this would still leave Parliament as it is present constructed with the final say , which would include votes for MPs sitting for  seats outside of England.

But  even if  Cameron  could  do it in the time and the other major Westminster Parties agreed to his proposal, it is difficult to see how Cameron could achieve what he wants – an equality of control over  national affairs in the four Home Countries – because he is determined not to have an English Parliament.  English votes for English laws suggests he wants to have only  MPs for English seats voting  on issues  which affect only England. But it is not clear at  present whether Cameron would exclude Welsh and Northern  Irish MPs . If  they were not excluded,  the problem of non-English MPs voting on English issues would remain.  But there is a difficulty in doing this insofar as Welsh and Northern Irish devolved powers are less than those already in Scotland and will be even more inferior to a Scotland with the Scottish parliament’s  proposed new powers.  The solution to this is to give all four Home Nations equal devolved powers. However, this could meet with a refusal of such powers by Wales and Northern  Ireland , whose assemblies and governments have been unwilling to use all the powers they currently have., most probably because of the responsibilities they bring.

But excluding non-English seat MPs from voting on English issues would not  entirely  solve the problem.  There would still be the question of who makes the policy on which  MPs vote.  It is easy to see how a situation could arise where a Labour government  or a coalition  government with MPs drawn  from non-English seats  could have an overall majority in the Commons ,  but be in the minority amongst English-seat MPs.   If that was the case it would not be for such a government to make laws for England because it would be non-English MPs making English policy.  English laws would have to be formulated and developed  by an executive drawn only from English-seat MPs. That would  mean   two executives in the Commons, one dealing with English affairs and one with all other affairs.  It would be unworkable.    If there was both an English Parliament and a Federal government the problem would not exists because the two executives would be clearly delineated and their areas of responsibility  obvious.

Consider also the position at a UK wide general election.  How would those standing for seats outside of England campaign? If such MPs were allowed to be   part of the policy making process  for English-only legislation but were not allowed to vote,  what exactly would they put in their election manifestoes about such a  situation? Similarly what would the parties they represent put in the general  Party manifesto?  If MPs outside of England were excluded from both voting and  policy making on English-only matters  would the Party manifestoes for seats outside of England  have to exclude any mention of what the Party manifesto for England said on English-only issues?

There is also a serious procedural  problem with English votes for English laws, namely, who would decide what is an English only issue. It has been suggested the Speaker would make the decision. That would place a dangerously large  amount of political power and influence in the hands of one man. (Imagine the present speaker John Bercow making such a decision  when faced with a Tory government).  But whatever the arrangements for making such a decision  there would be immense opportunity for dissension and many seemingly English-only issues could end up classified as not qualifying as English-only.  Indeed, while the Barnet Formula remains any English legislation with spending implications could be argued  to not be English-only because what England gets to spend is linked to what Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receive: England gets more for the NHS, the other home nations gets a proportionate boost to their spending and so on. That difficulty could be removed by abolishing the Barnett Formula, but that would engender  a great uproar amongst the Celtic Fringe.  There would also be the a problem if the Welsh and  Northern Irish assemblies were not given the same powers as the  Scottish parliament because  that would also cause great confusion and argument.

But the question of English representation goes beyond mere numbers. Even if  a Westminster government  is formed with a majority of English MPs, the fact that MPs from outside of  England would still be able to both vote on and help frame  English-only legislation  and policy would colour that legislation and policy  because personal relationships between politicians of the governing party would compromise  the desire of the government to act in England’s interests. The smaller the government majority  amongst English MPs  the more influence non-English seat MPs would be able to exert because their voice would be louder and the Government would  always be afraid of a general rebellion by the non-English seat MPs if non-English  interests were  not  pandered to.  A government with a tiny majority of English seats this could well itself defeated in such circumstances.

If the Westminster government with a majority English-seat MPs  was formed by a party with strong representation in one or more of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies, the temptation not to act solely in English interests would be strong because of the fear that what was done at Westminster could damage their standing in the other Home Countries.   A coalition with an English-seat majority  which excluded the Tory  Party would be particularly difficult  for England because it would have non-English seat MPs  from different parties pulling in different directions.

The only practical  and honest solution to the constitutional mess  is an English Parliament. It would allow an exact equality of powers and national focus to be granted to each of the Home Nations. The Parliament  could be created very simply at little or no additional cost: only MPs for English seats would be elected to the  House of Commons which would become what it was originally, an English institution.

An English Parliament would remove not only the practical difficulties of  deciding who should make policy to put before  the Commons and  what legislation was to be dealt with only by English seat MPs, it would force England’s representatives to concentrate on England’s interests first, second and last.

The UK federal Parliament could be created simply by forming it of the MPs of the four Home Country national Parliaments.    With federal matters restricted to a handful of important issues – defence, macro fiscal policy, foreign affairs, homeland security and suchlike – the federal parliament would not have that much to do. This would allow it to  meet at Westminster if a physical gathering is required or it could be conducted through linking the four national parliaments via the Web  The federal government would be formed as the UK government is now, on a majority drawn from the four Home Country parliaments.

The attempts to fudge the English constitutional question

There are  already frantic elite  attempts to fudge the English question  in play. As soon as the NO vote was certain the mainstream media and Libdem and Labour politicians started pushing the idea of devolving the powers Scotland had to either English regions or councils. The BBC was particularly assiduous in this respect with Radio 5 who started their propagandising for devolution which would deny England a Parliament as soon as it became clear in the early hours of the morning  that the NO vote would win.

Devolving to English regions or even councils  the powers enjoyed by the Scottish Parliament after the new powers are added  manifestly cannot achieve  what Cameron wants, namely, equality of treatment for England.  For example, Scotland is to have new tax raising powers over income tax. If  such powers were given to English regions or large conurbations , this would  result in a hideously complex post-code lottery which would set one area against another.

But it would not simply be  a matter of setting one area against another which would be an ill consequence of such devolution. Imagine what would happen if  one area suffered a severe shortfall in revenue under such a tax regime?  This could happen because they set the rates too low  for any new taxpaying businesses or individuals they attracted to cover the tax they had forgone by lowering the rate or because there was a flight from higher  tax areas. Would what remained of central government in the UK  be willing to stand idly by and allow vital public services in the afflicted area  to fall into disuse? Most probably not, but that would raise a problem: if much of the revenue raising had  been devolved where exactly would the money come from to bail the at risk region or council out?   But even if central government did have the funds,  it would be politically toxic for them to be handing out money to a region or city which could not fund its public services because it had set its local tax rates too low or left them too high. Solvent regions or cities would be up in arms. There would be plenty of issues such as this. The whole thing would be an administrative mess of heroic proportions. The disaster of Spain’s  devolved regions provides a lesson what can happen if  important  fiscal powers are given to regions of a country.

Regional assemblies would not work  even if their remit was restricted to genuinely local matters and their taxation powers remained small. . This is because there are no English regions which have anything approaching  as strong an identity as any of the home  nations. Most  of England has no strong regional identity.  Even the North East and Cornwall – the two English areas most commonly touted as having a strong regional identity – would be unsuitable.  The North East is comprised of Northumberland and  Durham but that has strong antipathies within it, for example, the rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland.   Cornwall is too small to stand on its own – with much of its population not being Cornish but incomers  – and  a South West Region comprising Cornwall, Devon and Somerset  would have no natural unity. The Northwest would include Manchester and Liverpool, two major  cities with little love for one another.

At the level of devolution to towns and cities, this would raise the problem of what to do with the considerable stretches of England without large cities or substantial towns.  That would rule out extending the powers of large cities and towns to the surrounding countryside in much of England..

What needs to be done now?

Although English votes for English laws on policies developed by MPs from England and put forward by an English executive  would be very messy and ultimately impractical, the adoption of the scheme   could be  a springboard to an English parliament. This would be partly because the public would see that it was not working efficiently or fairly and partly because the habit of publicly speaking about English interests and English constitutional circumstances would have been formed. That would embolden politicians and the mainstream media to advocate an English parliament.   If it was only English votes for English laws with MPs outside of  England still forming part of the policy determining  group for the legislation for England,  this clear evidence of  blatant inequality between England and the other Home Nations  would boost demand for  English votes for English laws to be scrapped and English Parliament put in its place.

The danger for England is that she will end up  without anything which goes anyway towards remedying the disadvantage she is presently under.  Nothing will be decided let alone implemented  before the 2015 General Election and if Labour form a government, whether on their own or in coalition with the parties other than the Tories, the chances of English votes for English laws getting off the ground is remote. In such circumstances the issue of English devolution would be likely to be kicked into the long grass with things such as a constitutional convention and the devolution of some unimportant extra powers to the cities. I doubt whether regional assemblies would be attempted because of the resounding rejection  of an assembly in the North East in 2004. It would also look like treating England as a second class citizen. Moreover, the idea of devolving important powers such as those  granted to Scotland to cities  would be a non-starter because it would take so much power from Westminster.  MP  turkeys would not be voting for Christmas.

If the Tories have a modicum of sense they will go to the country on a platform of  English rights. Ideally, this should  contain support for an English Parliament , but even English votes for English laws would have considerable traction with English electors because at long last there would be a major Party which appeared to be “speaking for England”.  Such a platform would place both Labour and the LibDems in an impossible electoral position because a refusal to allow the English to have the same powers as the Scots, Welsh and Irish would be self-evidently unreasonable.

 

But there are dangers . The problem with giving Scotland ever greater powers is that it prepares them for independence. (Wales and NI need not be worried about as serious independence candidates because they are such economic basket cases and their politicians know it). Personally I am very angry about devolution full stop because the centrifugal forces it has released may well end up splitting the union. But there is no going back so the only way England can be protected is to go for full federation with an English Parliament and equal powers for all four Home Country houses plus a federal parliament consisting of the members of the four Home Country houses.

In addition, England should work to remove all the potential bargaining chips that Scotland has  England should go for this:

  1. The removal of Trident from Scotland.
  2. All military equipment to be made outside of Scotland.
  3. The removal of public service jobs in Scotland which deal with English administrative functions such as the administration of English social security near Glasgow.
  4. A limited written constitution defining the relationship between the four Home Countries with clauses which would make it a legal requirement to (a) make any decision to leave the union a matter for the entire UK electorate and (b) any referendum on independence to only be held after the terms of independence have been agreed.
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