Invective is no substitute for rational argument

As an MEP, I seem to spend rather a lot of time in correspondence with constituents, and generally speaking I find them remarkably reasonable and courteous, even when they are disagreeing with me.  I enjoy the correspondence, and try as far as possible to reply in the same vein.
 
However just occasionally I get communications from constituents who appear to think that a tirade of invective is a good substitute for rational debate.  These communications usually come as e-mails, but had they come by old-fashioned snail mail, I feel sure they would have been written in green ink.
 
One such example comes from a Mr. Beardsley.  Normally I treat constituency correspondence as confidential, but as a colleague of Mr. Beardsley has forwarded this correspondence to the Lincolnshire Echo (with the clear but doomed objective of trying to embarrass me), I feel entitled to disregard confidentiality.  Mr. Beardsley’s point (so far as he has one) is that he doesn’t like devolution, which he feels is unfair to England; he blames the Conservative Party for allowing devolution in the first place (which shows a curious ignorance of recent political history); and he further blames the Conservative Party for failing to do anything to resolve his concerns (though he has no practical suggestions as to what a Party in Opposition might do).
 
But Mr. Beardsley is a classic example of invective used in place of argument.  Indeed his tirade of abuse was so colourful that I feel moved to share a part of it with you: “You are all sycophantic, scurrilous, spinless (sic), corrupt, self centred, pompous, greedy baffoons (sic).  Vote Conservative ???? Not on your nelly (sic).  You (sic) arrogance betrays you Mr Helmer but thankyou (sic) greatly for giving me the opportunity to finally see you (sic) and your party in your true colours; YELLOW”.
 
His tone reflects rather poorly on his courtesy and general demeanour, while his spelling and punctuation leave a lot to be desired.  I particularly liked his use of “spinless”.  I presume he meant “spineless”, but in these days where politicians are frequently accused of spin, perhaps to be called spinless is a back-handed compliment.
 
Facing this insult and provocation, I felt fully entitled to reply in robust and spirited terms, which appears to have offended the gentleman.
 
He is of course quite right to criticise the Labour government’s half-baked and unfinished constitutional settlement, which causes both democratic and economic distortions between England and Scotland.  I think that politicians in all major parties now recognise these difficulties, and are looking for ways to resolve them.  We in the Conservative Party have proposed what I think is the best solution: that within the Westminster parliament, only English and Welsh MPs should be able to vote on English and Welsh laws.  This is the so-called “Grand Committee” proposal put forward by William Hague and others, and it would go a long way to solving the famous West Lothian Question at a stroke.
 
Mr. Beardsley’s demand is that we should have an English parliament, by which I take him to mean a whole new institution with some hundreds of new politicians, which would cost many millions of pounds.  But then as John Major famously put it, “If the answer is more politicians, you’re asking the wrong question”.  And clearly he was right.

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40 Responses to Invective is no substitute for rational argument

  1. Gareth says:

    Whilst I agree that there’s no call for the sort of tirade that Mr Beardsley has directed at you, I do have to say that I sympathise with him. Getting straight answers from politicians can try the patience of a saint, and to obtain answers from the Conservative Party in regard to their policy on the English Question…Well, one may as well beat one’s head against the wall!

    Over the years I have entered into correspondence with numerous Tory politicians over their policy of “English Votes on English Matters”. The EVoEL policy was first announced by William Hague and continued to be Conservative Party policy under Duncan Smith and Howard. Even so, absolutely no one in the party had the first idea how this policy would operate in practice. High ranking and intelligent MPs like David Davis, John Redwood, Nick Herbert, Alan Duncan, Theresa May, Michael Howard and Oliver Heald were at a complete loss to explain EVoEL, and some even appeared to be quite clueless, constitutionally illiterate. I once managed to corner George Young at the Conservative Party Conference and it was obvious from our short talk that the party did not have faith in its own policy and would not be drawn into any potentially embarrassing discussion upon it.

    For ten years you had EVoEL as your policy. And (officially) you still do! For ten years I have complained about your inadequate answer to the West Lothian Question, and for ten years I have been fobbed off ill-informed and policy-lite reiterations of the party’s inadequate position, or off the record pathetic apologies.

    The Democracy Task Force has now come up with a farcical solution, yet to be adopted by Cameron’s team: “English Pauses for English Causes”.

    Under Clarke’s scheme the English will be denied the affirmative expression of national identity afforded to the Scots; instead UK MPs elected in England will speak for England only negatively – by wrecking UK Government legislation at Committee Stage.

    Essentially the scheme rests on the principle of two competing vetoes. MPs elected in England (assumed to be acting in the interest of England, even though they are elected on a UK manifesto) can veto the legislation of the UK Government. In return the UK Parliament which selects the Government, and is comprised from MPs returned from all four corners, can at the Third Stage veto any changes that English MPs voted for at the Report Stage. In this way, if the English have transformed the bill to a manner that is acceptable to the English, the government can abort the legislation.

    Why should Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs be permitted to overturn the will of English MPs? Also, why should Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs have any say in the passage of any bill that pertains to England? And why should they have any input into the drafting of a Government bill; surely England has the right to its own government to seek English solutions to English problems?

    You are denying the English a for-ourselves political expression, whilst the Scots and Welsh are in-and-for-themselves: In our parliament, voting on English matters; and in their own parliaments, for themselves.

    Tell me, honestly, why should this be the case? Why should England settle for less?

    Ask any Conservative politician now what Conservative policy is and they make a oblique or non-committal mention of the Democracy Task Force’s recommendations, because mention of something that is not yet party policy is better than admitting what is. It really is an absolute disgrace that coming up to 11 years after asymmetric devolution the Conservatives still lack a credible policy that restores democracy to England.

    Privately you know that Clarke’s recommendations are a sticking plaster over a gaping hole in our constitution, and some MPs (Luff, Rifkind, Mark Field) have at least had the guts to suggest as much.

    In 1975 Mr Rifkind chaired a Scottish Devolution Policy to determine how the Conservative Party should respond to the Labour Government’s White Paper on Scottish devolution. You can read the findings of his group here, courtesy of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

    To cut a long story short, Rifkind decided to counter demands for a bespoke Scottish Parliament and Executive by recommending a system by which an autonomous Scottish Assembly operated as a chamber within the Westminster system. Rifkind’s recommendations on how this would work have some relevance to what is being discussed for England at present because they are an outline of how an English Grand Committee would operate within the Westminster set-up.

    If that was Rifkind’s big idea for protecting Scottish national aspirations at Westminster, then why now is he suggesting only a ‘double-majority’ safe-guard at Second Reading to protect English interests?

    Either you believe that the people of England and Scotland should have equal democracy, equivalent representation and constitutional safe-guards, or you don’t. If you don’t believe that England and Scotland should stand in equal relationship to each other, and in equal relationship to the federal centre, then tell us why.

    At this stage I feel I should point out to you the fact that although an English Grand Committee has been mooted, it is not, and has never been, Conservative Party policy.

    Your official policy – English Votes on English Laws, by which only English MPs vote alone at Second, Committee, Report and Third Stages – has now been dismissed by Ken Clarke’s Democracy Task Force on the basis “that it could leave the UK executive in a very weak and powerless position on important public service issues of serious political importance” (and the same objection applies to an English Grand Committee).

    The priority for your party is the preservation of executive power over and above English national representation. However, your party now supports Scottish devolution which provides Scottish representation but has moved power away from Westminster in a way that damages English voters. There’s an obvious hypocrisy in your position. I would love to discuss this in depth with you. It’s rare to find an English politician that knows his constitutional arse from his constitutional elbow, and those that do are usually sensible enough to avoid discussing party policy. If you would like me to interview you on your personal views and the policy of your party I would be absolutely delighted to do so. Please get in touch. I think you’ll find that a bit of honesty and open debate will prevent the likes of Mr Beardsley resorting to abuse out of complete and utter frustration.

  2. Helen Wright says:

    I totally understand where your constituent is coming from. The Conservative Party tries the patience of a Saint with regards to the English Question. They hop from one foot to another in an attempt to ignore and stifle debate on the subject – changing their policies more often than I change my knickers (and that on a daily baisis).

    Add to this, the now infamour Glasgow lecture by your Almighty Leader, in which he called for the English to re-educate themselves and show more respect for the Scots (calling those who disagreed with the unfair Barnett Formula, “Sour Little Englanders”)

    How you can personally take the high ground while England’s sick and elderly pay such high prices for your beloved Union, is beyond the pale. It’s fine for you with a good income. You can afford cancer treatment, hospital parking (reaching nearly £500 for radiotherapy treatments), paying to watch TV when you’re confined to a bed for days, or even the huge bridge tolls to cross to the next county for work.

    More and more people are becoming disgusted by your non policies and refusal to debate the subject with those who know you are lying with your half-baked policies which are not attempt to resolve the problems, but to the stifle opposition.

    May your Empire crumble around you. It’s the least you deserve. I’ll tell you this for nothing – few people, other than the British in Wesminter, will shed a single tear when the Union dissolves. By heaven, you deserve it sooner rather than later.

    So sneer at your constituents while you can. You constituents will have the last laugh.

  3. Tally says:

    Suggesting that an English Parliament would mean a whole new institution with some hundreds of new politicians is the mantra of politicians of all parties to scare off the taxpaying English public and you all know it.
    For me this issue is more than just money or the west lothian question.It is the ignorance of politicians and the media and their denial of the English and England.You all have simply wiped us off the map.Ethnic cleansing come to mind.
    Mr Beardsley has a right to blow his top.How long can politicians keep on pretending England does not exist?.
    you are elected as an MEP from England not britain,the scots welsh and northern irish have their own MEP’s,assemblies and westminster mp’s to look after their specific interests, why do you feel the need to represent them as well?

  4. E Justice says:

    Spot on Gareth and Helen Wright,we all know the Labour Governments hatred of England,we expected some English Patriots in the Conservative Party……it seems we were wrong

  5. Terry says:

    Whilst you are entitled to shoot the messenger (especially one as objectionable as Mr. Beardsley)it does not make the message any less valid.

    Those of us in England are constitutionally, democratically and financially second class. Only equality will do if a democracy (or Union) is to survive.

    If the answer is more politicians, then so be it, because the idea that some citizens are not entitled to equality with others should be beyond question.

    Why won’t the Conservatives stand up and correct this wrong? (BTW a committe for one and full Parlaiment for others, is not an answer)

  6. Gareth says:

    An English Parliament need not mean more politicians anyway. It seems that Mr Helmer’s preferred choice is an English Grand Committee which is a parliament within a parliament composed of dual-mandate MPs with both UK and English mandates. A Grand Committee of this kind would exclude Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs from the chamber (EVoEL does not prevent them from participating, only from voting) and it would also have the power to summon before it Ministers of State to hold the UK Executive to account. Essentially it would be a sovereign UK Parliament comprised of only English MPs, a dangerous and mind-numbingly stupid constitutional precedent to set in my humble opinion – the SNP would have a field day. Non-English constituency MPs would be excluded from the majority of the business of the House, and consequently it would be illogical – although not unconstitutional – for them to have departmental roles in ministeries with a predominantly or wholly English remit. Non-English MPs would be in effect excluded from cabinet government on the same basis that it is illogical to have a Secretary of State for Scotland who is elected in England. The idea of a Scottish Prime Minister would also be rather far-fetched given that he would be unable to vote, or even participate in the chamber, on English business. This is Mr Helmer’s preferred solution?

    The other possibility would be to scrap the House of Lords – already neutered by Labour – and turn it into a federal parliament with the ability to scrutinise the legislation of the national parliaments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This would be preferrable because England would have its own legislature that is distinct from that of the UK as a whole, permitting the Scots and Welsh to feel as if they have equal ownership of the UK Parliament (which they wouldn’t if it was primarily used as an English Grand Committee).

    Either of the above would require no extra MPs.

    Alternatively we could just have an English Parliament and executive, which would be by far the most logical and equitable solution by far.

  7. Ian Campbell says:

    Dear Roger,
    May I remind you of the ‘Salisbury’ answer to the West Lothian Question? The former leader of your Party in the House of Lords proposed that the House of Commons should become the English Parliament and the House of Lords (reformed and elected) should become the British Parliament. This does not involve having any more politicians at all and in all probability quite a few less (which is perhaps why it is not favoured by the Party). It requires no new buildings. It costs almost nothing. It could be accomplished almost overnight. It retains the unique powers of the more important House insofar as England is concerned. I believe that the Lord Salisbury’s successor, Lord Strathclyde, supports the proposal. AS this solution would appear to meet ALL your objections why not endorse it enthusiastically?? Or are you really interested in denying England in order to preserve the status quo?

  8. Pingback: Little Man in a Toque » Rifkind’s Scottish Assembly plan sounds familiar

  9. Don Beadle says:

    The objection of having additional politicians did not hold water when powers were devolved to Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland. So why should it be an overiding objection for devolution to England?

    However a Westminster solution that avoids additional politicians that has not fully been considered by the Conservatives (although it was inherent in Lord Bakers original proposal) is to have an English Executive chosen by an English Grand Committee with the same powers as those accorded to Scotland.

    This would be a solution to the fundamental English Question of “Who governs England?”. Just altering parliamentary procedure is no solution as parliament is primarily concerned with dealing with legislation conceived and adminstered by ministers and the cabinet of the UK government that does not have a primary responsibility solely for the people of England.

    When challenged on this pointJohn Redwood and Simon Hughes who advocate a Westminster solution have both agreed that an English Executive is necessary as part of the solution.

    Such a compromise might not satisfy everyone who wishes to see the ending of the unfair way in which England is now governed but any party that put it forward for discussion would gain the respect of the English electorate (as well as many Scots who would welcome a better balanced Union).

    As it is, with all the main parties trying to avoid facing up to the need to govern England fairly, I fear that the Union is doomed to break up. In the period of economic prosperity for the past ten years the English electorate has been apathetic about this constitutional travesty but as the hardship of the recession begins to bite they will be asking how they are governed and why should all the priorities be set by a PM and Chancellor who do not represent an English constituency.

  10. Chris Abbott says:

    The UK Government would be honed down tremendously if there was an English Parliament so it would cost no more and it woul be DEMOCRATIC. It could be based at Westminster or another existing building in England. I call it the cheap, straight-forward answer to restoring democracy.

    What is happening in the UK today is discrimination against every man, woman and child in England – the UK’s largest and most cosmopolitan nation.

  11. Barry (The Elder) says:

    So the Conservatives have looked into the anomalies of Devolution, hence Ken Clarke’s Democracy Task Force, well having read the paper finally produced (did it really need 2 years to write) by KC and his not so Sunshine Band, and all it could come up with was a bit of tinkering with Parliamentary procedings in the legislation of English only bills whilst still allowing the whole UK Parliament to vote at the final stage, nowhere in KC’s paper did the word democracy appear, by large the most important piece missing was the democratic deficit I feel as an Englishman not being allowed a vote for an English Parliament, yes the man on the English street, where is my democracy? I can only vote for the UK Parliament, yet the Scots, Welsh and NI can vote for their own Parliament/Assembly and again for the UK Parliament, KC’s paper was a waste of time and I should imaging will be kicked into the long grass should the Conservatives win a big enough majority at the nect election

  12. Roger Helmer says:

    Thanks for all the comment. I assume that the English parliament society has launched a Round Robin! But the comments on the Conservative position are self-serving and unfair. It was Labour who created the present nightmare. We Conservatives have accepted the Scottish parliament as a done deal, because it’s clear that most of the Scots want it. We are left to try to clear up Labour’s mess as best we can, without creating new layers of government and cost, and at the same time offering comparable powers to England. The English votes for English Laws approach seemed to me to make the best of a bad job, and while you pile abuse on it, you don’t really explain what’s wrong with it. Indeed you don’t really explain how your solution (whatever it is) would work. We need to solve the West Lothian question, but that will take good-will and a rational approach. I come back to my starting point: Invective is no Substitute for Rational Argument.

  13. Patrick Harris says:

    History, with hindsight, is used to prove/disprove, or otherwise embellish, stated “facts”.
    Here’s a fact that Mr. Helmer might like to “debate”, the south of England regional assembly (seera) had 74 “appointed” board members 51 of whom were Conservative Councillors, if, as Caroline Spelman averred, that regional assemblies were “unelected, unaccountable and unwanted” I would have thought that all Conservative Councillors “appointed” to assemblies throughout England would have been withdrawn thereby starving the assemblies of any semblance of democratic legitimacy. I suspect that we are just witnessing the two faced Tory word shuffle.
    Recently, Tories didn’t even bother to turn up for a vote on “regional committees”. Where do they stand on this subject?

  14. Barry (The Elder) says:

    Roger many thanks for replying, if EVoEL is the best you can do, it does not give parity to the people of England to vote for thier own Parliament, as it stands now I can only vote for the UK parliament whereas the Scot,Welsh and NI have two bights of the cherry, Ken Clarke’s Democracy Task Force did not once mention the democratic deficit of the people of England, indeed other than the title democracy was not mentioned once, when it comes to rational arguement I would say the Campaign for an English Parliament have given that arguement, but to a person every MP that sits in an English seat more often than not replies that they were elected to the British Parliament and as such represent Britain, my answer is no you were not you were elected to represent the people who elected you, the people of England, Mr Beardsley mentions the word spineless and in a way he is correct, lets look at the current news regarding hospital parking charges, in Scotland free in England some odd £1.2 million in charges, have any English MPs raised a commotion? Health aparteit free or subsidised cancer drugs in Scotland, chargable or not available in England, every MP in England says it is the problem with NICE, yet colectively they have the power to make NICE think again or abolish it but no they prefer to hide behind NICE (not thier problem) lets look at DEFRA, how is it that farmers in England are stil waiting for compensation from the foot and mouth disaster, yet again MPs in England sit on thier hands and hide behind a Govt dept that they have the power to change, lets recall how Tony Bair gave concessions to the EU regarding our farming practises but the consequences of this action did not fall on Scots or Welsh farmers because they have thier own Parliament/Assembly represented in Brussels, we the peole of England are represented by UK Govt who only see England as the cash cow to finance the rest of the UK, are English MPs collectively restless about this? with a few exceptions the answer is not. I recently attended a meeting with the IPPR and all agreed the logical answer to the English question as it should be known is to give the people of England thier own Parliament, the only obsticle to this is the comfortable British establishment, rational arguement is all that we ask for but argueing rationally for over 10 years has got England nowhere, MPs continually refuse to listen to the argument, it was only through a bit of invective at a Hansard meeting that Lord Falconer finally admitted to England being a Nation, if sometimes our voice comes over as invective it is through fustration rather than being rude, you mention “offering comparable powers to England”, the only way to be comparable is to offer the people of England a vote for thier own Parliament with exactly the same powers currrently enjoyed by the Scottish model, tinkering with Parliamentary procedure and not giving me a vote for my own Parliament is not an answer at all

  15. Terry says:

    “We Conservatives have accepted the Scottish parliament as a done deal, because it’s clear that most of the Scots want it.”

    Roger, as a card carrying member of the Conservatives, can I point out that…

    A BBC poll* asked the question “should England have its own Parliament?” and 61% responded positively.
    The Telegraph poll** asked if “England should have a Parliament with powers similar to the Scottish Parliament” (68% said “yes”).
    When asked if regionalisation was the answer the people of the North East (an area chosen because it was likely to say ‘Yes’), they responded with a deafening 78% “NO” vote***.

    I’d say this demonstrates the “settled will of the English people” (to coin a phrase). Wouldn’t you?

    You’re right however to point out that New Labour created this mess, but what I can’t work out is why we (Conservatives) are not prepared to put it right.

    Any solution that falls short of the rights enjoyed by Scotland and Wales will not do. Look at what they have and then offer it to me; thank you very much, if it’s not too much to ask (clue, it sure as hell isn’t).

    If this isn’t a rational argument, please let me know where I have missed the point. If the destruction of the Union is the objective of those who promote a bilateral (quad-lateral?)democratic status for UK citizens, they should be honest enough to admit it.

    Inequality is no substitute for equality, so can we have some of it please?

    * http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6264823.stm
    ** http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/26/nunion26.xml
    *** http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3984387.stm

  16. Gareth says:

    Roger, if you have to ask what is wrong with your solution then you have either not read my previous, or you have failed to understand it.

    It’s not just the West Lothian Question that’s the problem, it’s the wider English Question, and your solution creates more problems than it solves. If you don’t understand that yet, then you will soon.

    No invective from me, just disappointment.

  17. Colin Baker says:

    The UK should be split into provinces, with a State Parliament for the UK. Each of the 4 provinces – England, Scotland Ireland and Wales would have their own provincial Parliaments with Mps elected from their own countries sitting 2 days per week in their provincial parliaments and 1 day a week in the State Parliament, leaving 2 days per week for constituency business. That way there will be the same number of MPs as there were for the old House of Commons and the current Members for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governing bodies would not be required. No new institions will be needed as the English parliament could use the House of Commons

    As this will be a considerable reduction of givernment personnel to the current system, whilst granting equal status to all 4 countries of the the UK, what reason do you have for not supporting it; and proposing it to the Conservative Party?

  18. Ian Campbell says:

    Roger,
    Now you are one who is stooping to invective! How can members of the Campaign for an English Parliament be ‘self-serving’? Members are all volunteers, giving up their spare time to try to promote a fair deal for England and democracy for their country. There is nothing in it for them personally. England is a nation. Conservative policy would leave England without a focus as a nation, without an English government or executive, without a First Minister, without any co-ordination,with no voice. Several MPs, not all of them in your Party, have conceded an English executive is essential.

  19. Roger Helmer says:

    I wonder if Colin Baker works for the European Commission? “The UK should be split into provinces”. That’s exactly what they’re trying to do with their regionalisation agenda. The aim is “A Europe of regions governed from Brussels”. Does Colin recall the North East referendum, when nearly 80% of voters voted against being a province? I am amazed that so many intelligent people are exercised about how we divide up democratic accountability within the UK, and fail to notice that we’ve already given most of it away to Brussels. In that context, the English Parliament discussion is a lot like (forgive the worn-out cliché) shifting the deck-chairs on the Titanic.

  20. Tally says:

    Now we get to the nub of this issue, the eu.
    The euro sceptics accuse English Nationalists of playing into the hands of brussels, whilst the europhiles are afraid of a euro sceptic English Parliament.Which is it?

  21. Tom Long says:

    Roger – did you know that the Scots are laughing at the English ‘dullards’ who allow a situation where the Scots vote for a man who only legislates for the English and not for themselves, where the English have to be subjected to ‘British’ rule without a voice or a forum – English Parliament? – that speaks for English interests.

    If the Scots aren’t laughing at the English they’re feeling sorry for the English, a few examples that induce these emotions being ;

    – English students paying tuition fees sitting next to Scots students who pay nothing (legislation swung by Scots MPs)
    – England being ruled by a ‘British government that spends less per person on the English and then denies the English medicine available elsewhere in the Unequal Kingdom on the grounds of cost etc.

    What a sad state – England – a country that fought a civil war to establish parliamentary democracy for its people now finds itself without a parliament and subject to governance by politicians from other countries who only have the interests of ‘Britain’ at heart.

    Do you concur that the English are dullards?

  22. Ian Campbell says:

    The question of ceding sovereignty to the EU, Roger, is of course a separate issue and while I am glad that you and your colleagues are fighting that battle it is not relevant to the question of an English Parliament. From the English point of view, England is not represented in the EU whereas Scotland and Wales, as regions which happen to be nations, are. The UK is a multinational state. Two of the nations in Britain have national assemblies. If the UK were divided into provinces, England would become one of the provinces with its own national assembly and so would have the same representation in the EU as the other provinces. Each province would have the same relationship with the EU as Scotland and Wales do now but, in addition, the English government would be elected democratically by the people of England who would regain control of their own domestic policies insofar as the EU allows. Whether one agrees with the foundation hospitals policy or not, this could not have been imposed on England had Scots, Welsh and Irish MPs been excluded from voting. Whether free hospital car-parking for visitors, as now obtains in Scotland and Wales, is a ‘sensible idea’ or not, the Minister of Health in an English government would be more likely to respect the wishes of his constituents than is Mr Bradshaw who is a member of the UK Govt which can call on votes from MPs from outside England and can dismiss English concerns out of hand. I’m sorry that you haven’t commented on the ‘Salisbury solution’ to the English Question, which I mentioned above, and which is the best idea so far to come out of your Party – it is a pity that it is not Party policy. It answers all your criticisms of an English Parliament and could be accomplished with the minimum of fuss.

  23. Gareth says:

    Mt Helmer, you ask for rational argument but then fail to engage in it. Perhaps I can ask you for some clarification on your position?

    1. Are you aware that Conservative Party policy is English Votes on English Laws, but may change to the Clarke/Rifkind solution of competing vetoes between English MPs and the House as a whole, and; do you recognise that this is entirely different from the “English Grand Committee” that you tout as the Conservative solution?

    2. Is it right that some British people should have two Parliaments to shout for them, whilst the English make do with the UK Parliament, and; should the English, if they desire it, be permitted equal democratic representation that reflects their national identity (the most recent MORI/Ministry of Justice polling demonstrates that the people of England, across all ethnicities, have a greater sense of identification with England than they do with Britain)?

    3. Do you accept the point I made here that an English Grand Committee would marginalise non-English constituency MPs in the Commons, and – logically – lead to their exclusion from the executive?

    4. Do you understand that solving the West Lothian Question is a different matter from solving the wider “English Question” – which is a matter of the governance of England rather than a technical matter of voting privileges in the House of Commons?

    I hope that you will answer the above.

    Patrick Harris (above) raises a very good point. When Theresa May tabled her wrecking amendment on the Government’s regional select committees (which gerrymander Labour majorities on all English regions, the Tory MPs hardly turned up to vote. If they had they would have defeated the Government because the Lib Dems were onside and there were several Labour rebels.

    If Theresa May had been successful (had she had the support of the Tory front bench) then we would now have regional English Grand Committees instead of Regional Select Committees in which Labour MPs constitute the plurality irrespective of the region’s party preference. This would have given the Conservatives a strong hand in preventing Labour overriding English local democracy (especially in respect to planning laws and transport). The Conservatives really let the people of England down on that one, big time. Regionalisation is Labour shorthand for replacing local democracy with authoritarian central government dictat.

  24. David says:

    Roger, if you want to read a blueprint for how an English Parliament would work within the context of a federal UK, check out my post on the subject. The CEP, on the other hand, support a devolved English parliament. This would work in exactly the way the present devolved bodies for Scotland and Wales work. It would just mean that the numerous UK government departments that presently deal with exclusively English concerns would become properly English bodies, in name and democratic accountability as well as in fact.

    The size of the UK parliament could then be greatly pared down, as its MPs would be dealing with only the 30% or so of government business that was properly UK-wide. Much simpler and less Jesuitical than the various Conservative (non-)policies over the years. And more democratic. It would almost certainly mean no more absolute UK-wide majorities for the Tories, though; which is probably the main issue, when all’s said and done.

  25. Colin Baker says:

    If you think as you do about the EU why don’t you resign in protest?

    Please will you answer the question?

  26. Anthony D Beardsley says:

    To all the correspondents who have submitted views may I thank them. I would just lke to point out however that I only resorted to the vitriol and tirade when I felt I was being fobbed off yet again and patronised against by being told by Mr Helmer that by blaming the Conservatives as much as Labour I know little about politics I was also referred to in an email as ‘Beardsley’ when it should have been Mr Beardsley. In no way did I address him as just ‘Helmer’. To me, for a paid statespersson of privelge and influence to behave like that was discourteous to me and not befitting of a mature and resposible politician and surely lacked class. Also attacking my grammatical content and literacy again I feel Mr Helmer as detracted away from the issues I was raising. Does it really matter I never went to Eton, Harrow or Oxbridge. I like to believe I am a man of the people and for my people.

    I also wish to point out that I have emailed Mr Helmer to put an end to this hostility and try to work for a soultion which primarily benefits my nation England. I just wish to have parity within the union (although I admit I am a Cromwellian against it) for England and let English people have the same benefits the other contituent nations enjoy at our expense.

    Also whilst we English are being blatantly ignored and discrinmated against then the consequences could be that greater numbers feel that marginalised and let down they sadly turn to the BNP or even worse the National Front then we would all suffer.

    Also to Mr Helmer, yes Labour as made a real mess of things thats why under what is probably been the worst government ever the Conservative Party as been a very ineffective and impotent opposition. Your party been guilty of apathy, well thats not what Conservatives voted for. They want action to save their nation from further irrevocable harm. In my opinion you must all accept you have made errors and miscalculated the situation. I have made many in the past and I am not ashamed or feel demeaned in any way by this admission. Being human is not a crime but the only way we learn is by looking at the effects our decisions have on others and listening to their concerns and suggestions. Its called democracy and I believe in it.

    Please Mr Helmer I promise in future I will refrain from using such strong words again BUT only on the condition you and your party listen to the public who elect you to represent them. The country does not deserve another term of Labour misgovernment, dictatorship and deceit. Are you however mature enough to rise to the challenge? I wonder?

    PS On a lighter note if there are spelling, typing or grammatical errors in this message then I humbly apologise. Best wishes to you all for 2009

  27. Tally says:

    Will Mr Helmer as a member of the Freedom Association come out in favour of a referendum for England on this issue? if not why should Brown give a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?

  28. Roger Helmer says:

    Two fair questions requiring fair answers. Why don’t I resign as an MEP in protest against the EU? Because I can do a much more effective job in opposing the Lisbon Treaty, and all the rest of the EU nonsense, as an MEP. If I resigned, it would get a few column inches, and after that I would have no platform for the work I do. Bear in mind I was not elected to represent the EU. I was elected to represent the people of the East Midlands in the European parliament. At the moment that parliament is 80 to 90% europhile. If you want the sceptics to resign in protest, it will be 100% europhile.

    Will I call for a referendum for England? No, because (A) I haven’t seen a sensible plan that is worth putting to the people: and (B) unlike the EU issue, I have no sense of widespread public concern over the issue.

  29. Barry (The Elder) says:

    So Mr Helmer has not seen a sensible plan that is worth putting to the people, read that as ‘I really do not care’, the disparity within the Union can continue, I am all right jack. Is it not funny that the politicians that are our elected servants can not come up with a sensible plan that would appeal to the people of England some 10 years after devolution, yet when we offer solutions to the devolution problem they are ignored out of hand, but the telling point in Mr Helmers latest reply is that he has no sense of widespread public demand, you can bet your bottom Dollar when there is widespread demand Mr Helmer will change his mind like the wind, and as has happened before will more than likely plagerise words from the CEP

  30. Barry (The Elder) says:

    I have to submit again if you please, although having submitted twice regarding the democratic deficit that I feel that I have not been afforded the right to vote for my own English Parliament and the Uk Parliament like my fellow British in Wales and Scotland, I have yet to receive a direct reply, am I to continue to be treated as a second class citizen within a Union which is built upon equality?

  31. Roger Helmer says:

    Those who are interested in the question of an English parliament might like to see a relevant piece on Conservative Home at http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2009/01/you-want-an-alt.html#comment-144671428

    In reply to Barry the Elder: I agree that there is a problem to be addressed, but as it happens I don’t agree with your proposed solution.

  32. Barry (The Elder) says:

    Thank you for your reply Mr Helmer, so you and I agree that there is a problem, the CEP have put forward a proposal that you do not agree with, so what is your solution to this problem? Please do not mention Regions and tinkering with Parliamentary procedures as this does not solve the democratic disparity that the people of England have.

  33. Roger Helmer says:

    Sorry, Barry, but I have made my position clear in earlier posts, and will not repeat myself. What I will repeat is the point that we’re all wasting our time until we take back control of our affairs from Brussels.

  34. Gareth says:

    Roger,

    If you have any intention of putting anything to the people, then why not call for a constitutional convention so that the UK can decide its EU future and England can decide its constitutional future within the UK?

  35. Barry (The Elder) says:

    Mr Helmer, no need to repeat yourself, your message is loud and clear, have a Grand Committee for English legislation within Parliament and not allow the people of England a national voice, a democratic vote for thier own Parliament. Mr Helmer there are EU elections in 2009 and I am assured the English Democrats (EDP) will be standing against you, I for one hope the people vote against you, and for the EDP, they are really our only hope

  36. David Ford Lane says:

    Mr Helmer, you and your party have badly let down the people of England; unfortunately reading your comments it seems to me that you are either too stubborn or self -serving to admit you are wrong….shame on you!
    English Democrat

  37. Anthony D Beardsley says:

    It is just typical that in todays Britain the press are more interested in Prince Harrys harmless private remark than investigating the crass inequality England suffers within this so called union. How can any union possibly work when one constitiuent member suffers considerable disparity with the other members whilst contributing more and subsidising their benefits.

    Yes Mr Helmer this can also apply to the European Union, which I too believe we should leave post haste or at at least after England has had its promised referendum.

  38. Roger Helmer says:

    Gareth: I have repeatedly called for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which is my prime concern. But it is one thing to call for a referendum (or a convention) — another thing to get it!

  39. Gareth says:

    I’m pleased to hear it Roger. I hope that you get your referendum, though I imagine that Mr Cameron will be hoping that the Irish do his bidding.

    The accepted rule is that the people should be consulted on constitutional questions (as parliament should not bind its successors) but as someone born after the last referendum, who watched Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do their own thing from England, I’ve never been consulted on anything despite sweeping transfers of power away from Westminster.

    I’d rather like the opportunity to vote no to further EU integration and yes to an English parliament.

    Out of interest, Roger, what do you make of Alex Salmond’s plan to have Scotland’s votes counted separately in any EU referendum?

  40. Pingback: Little Man in a Toque » Blog Archive » Roger the Dodger

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