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Michael Fabricant is right, we must give political equality to England

By Mark Wallace
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Fabricant St GeorgeVoters' appetite for constitutional change is limited, to say the least.

AV was rightly shot down in flames, as were the regional assemblies pushed by John Prescott. People are naturally, and rightly, suspicious of creating new layers of political complexity at taxpayers' expense.

With a cost of living crunch following a bitter recession, as well as a vast national debt to pay for, most politicians would choose to talk about the economy rather than reforming the way we are governed.

But there are exceptions. For example, it is impossible to divorce the EU as a constitutional issue from its dire economic impact, while the tendency for Brussels and Strasbourg to constantly overrule Westminster on important issues hobbles good government.

Similarly, the democratic imbalance left by Labour's patchy devolution is too serious a problem to ignore.

Scotland and Wales deserved devolution - it is a fundamental democratic principle that people should control their own affairs. However, England was left off the list by Tony Blair, leaving English voters subject to decisions made by Scottish MPs.

As we reported in July, the Government are finally looking at possible steps to address the West Lothian question. Today, Michael Fabricant takes up the issue in the Telegraph, calling for a new Act of Union to provide for English votes on English laws in Parliament (thanks are due to General Boles for the illustration of the Lichfield MP as St George).

As a matter of principle, the problem must be solved - it is clearly wrong for England to have the responsibility of footing the bulk of the UK's bills but not to have the right to make her own decisions.

Electorally, not only would such a step reduce Labour's over-representation, it would also offer an opportunity for the Conservative Party to represent an English political consciousness which currently has no voice in Westminster. 

Too often in politics, winning votes does not involve righting wrongs, and righting wrongs often brings no votes. Giving political equality to England is an opportunity to buck both of those trends - Fabricant is surely right that we should do so at the soonest possible opportunity.


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