Admission time. I have taken to reading the Guardian. Normally I am refreshingly surprised at the quality of much of the writing and the seriousness of the content. Even if it is worryingly earnest at times. I am also, almost without exception, staggered at the wrongheadedness of many of the views expressed.
Yesterday was one such day. I'd managed to plough through most of the journal over my Colmar baguette outside the Royal Courts of Justice when I came across the letters page. Marc Moore is an irrational Scot from Bristol University. Aside from much of his prejudiced blathering there was one passage which raised my shackles.
I suspect that preventing Scottish MPs from voting at Westminster on devolved issues will lead in time to coverage of such issues being removed from Scottish TV screens. Scottish voters will then vote their MPs into parliament on the basis of reserved matters only and the UK will effectively become a federal state. If Scots are relegated to the status of second-class citizens, who face the inevitable prospect of being governed by a prime minister from outside of their day-to-day political arena, then what chance does the union itself stand in the long run?
I suspect that this correspondent was probably one of the numpties who supported devolution in the first place as a way of raising Scotland's profile in the political process - as opposed to the alternative of actually physically raising its profile. That shouldn't be any excuse, however, for crediting the entirety of Scotland with a disturbingly low IQ. Why shouldn't Scottish voters be able to discern between matters on which the Scottish Executive will govern and matters on which Westminster will govern when it comes to casting their vote? The rest of the country does alright when it comes to Council elections for crying out loud. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Mr Moore himself distinguished between matters for one body and matters for another body during the elections for the European "Parliament". Of course, what may actually happen is that Scottish voters elect their MPs on the basis of matters only affecting the whole of the UK, rather than seeking to impose their view on the English. As for his statement that giving the English just the same representation as the Scots have at the moment would make the Scots second-class citizens, rather than just putting everyone on an equal footing... maybe the Scots have a greater chip on their shoulder than the Scousers...
Then another correspondent weighs in:
Legislation such as tuition fees does impact on voters from outside of England. Scottish and Welsh students go to universities in England and will have to pay the variable fee there. It is therefore right for MPs outside of England to vote on an issue that affects their constituents and limits students' options as to where they can study. The Conservatives proposals to exclude MPs from Scotland and Wales voting on certain issues is far more likely to end the union, the very thing Conservatives seek to preserve than the present imperfect yet adequate constitutional arrangement.
And they say educational standards aren't falling. Doesn't he get it? His very argument is a reason why English MPs, say, ought to be able to vote on educational matters in Scotland as well. The system is not adequate when the English have no say on issues affecting them, either because they are reserved to Scotland or Scottish MPs outvote them in Westminster.