Following the historic vote by Scotland against independence David Cameron and the Conservative party are already reneging on their promises.
A scant few hours after the results were tallied normal service resumed in Westminster, where the Conservatives Cameron supposedly leads, began to rail against the concessions the Prime Minister had promised.
Former environmental secretary, Owen Paterson, has spoken out asking for a recall of parliament from recess and has stressed that the “chaotic and narrow No vote undermines” the UK. Paterson described the promises made to Scotland as “rash” and said they were unacceptable concessions; made by a government overreacting to a threat. He also graced BBC Shropshire with an interview and called the Barnett Formula for calculating Scotland’s share of cash, was “unfair”, “It’s such a lopsided settlement, it cannot last,” he said. Mirroring a similar statement made by the leader of UKIP Nigel Farage, Paterson said “It is unfair Scottish politicians will continue to vote on taxes raised from the English, while voting special tax raising powers to Scotland alone. Such a lopsided constitutional settlement cannot last; it is already causing real anger across England. If not resolved fairly for all the constituent parts of the UK for the long term, it will fall apart.”
Andrew Rosindell, the MP for Romford, has also requested for parliament to be recalled and has indicated that he thinks that the timetable presented by the Prime Minister is far too short for any real devolution to be accomplished. “I think what we need to do is to make the right decision for the long term future of our country,” he said, adding that “If we rush into something, if we don’t consider the long term implications, you might finish up with a sticking plaster and another Scottish independence referendum in a few years.” Romford also suggested he would favour a permanent parliamentary solution would be required for the overall health of the “British family”.
The most damming condemnation of Scotland and the plans for devolution however come from senior backbencher, Bernard Jenkin. Jenkin has suggested that Scottish ministers might be passed over for senior positions including; but not limited to, chancellor of the Exchequer. “I’m mightily relieved but very concerned that this episode has thrown the whole of the UK constitution into a state of flux rather than settled anything.” Prior to Salmond’s resignation as First Minister, Jenkin also stated “And you can hear Alex Salmond teeing things up for the next row with Westminster because we’ve really no idea what these promises of extra powers actually are or what is meant by honouring the Barnett Formula… We need also to address the answer to the English question, it’s no longer the West Lothian question.” He also added “Whatever the promises made are they have to be honoured and we have to respect that a lot of Scottish people voted for separation and that’s all got to be addressed. But what is right for Scotland is also right for England and I think the prime minister should engage much more with his MPs because in fact his MPs represent a majority of constituencies in England.”
This last statement may be the most telling for Cameron as it seems to suggest that the Prime Minister did not consult his party before he released his statements and plans for Scotland. This is concerning as it appears to be a unilateral decision made by the Prime Minister in an almost Presidential fashion. This feels drastically unrepresentative as well as politically unwise for Cameron to do considering he may be the leader of the party but not a voice of all people in his party, and certainly not all people in their constituencies; as stated by Bernard Jenkin.
The announcement by Cameron was a necessary one, but the people of his party have a right to question and approve his policy before he announces it; that is just how party politics works. The policy had to be announced to galvanise the No voters, following the promises made in the Better Together campaign. However the policy should probably have been discussed at more length than the people who happened to be in the room with the Prime Minister at the time he was formulating his morning remarks to the press, and therefore the Scottish people.
No matter the announcement there will be great difficulties faced by David Cameron following the referendum vote. Both because the Scottish people are angered by Cameron’s lack of involvement in the campaign whereas Labour have been perceived to be heavily involved based on former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speeches and promises. More worrying however is that Cameron has now got real opposition in his own party unlike anything he has faced thus far.
A great thing happened when Scotland decided to stay with the union, but it appears nobody made any plans for what would happen when Scotland decided to stay. Hopefully a plan can be worked out soon and put into practice which will help all sides be happy with and allow us to move forward as a more successful country and union.