Back in the summer of 2015 I voted for the SNP in the General Election. I voted for the SNP for many reasons, and some of them are that I liked the local candidate Margaret Ferrier who, when I bumped into her and her posse out walking Frank was very nice, and that I couldn’t vote for the Green Party in my local constituency. No but two months later we’d started moving to England, to a Labour area, after unceremoniously dumping Tom Greatrex out of office (who, by a funny coincidence, is now the head of the Nuclear Industry Association).
It interests me to think that now the exact party I voted for, and the exact people I voted out (for Scottish Labour at Westminster isn’t a different thing to Labour at Westminster), have blocked in parliament the one thing that I really dislike about living in Scotland. I am being burned by the exact democratic power that I disliked about in Scotland and that I voted for independence to stop – that of “unelected” faction imposing their will on others when they have no direct link to the issue.
“Woah, hold on Mark” I hear you saying – “another politics post? About something that you don’t really know anything about? Come on now, let’s go back to multi-part posts about trivial things please”. But the thing is that this is giving me pause to reflect on the whole business of the English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) that was hastily brought into legislation after being announced the morning after the night before in September 2014. This rather amusingly makes a mockery of that whole idea – the concept is that “English” issues with no impact on Scotland wouldn’t be voted down by Scottish MPs, a strange destruction of the MP level of anyone in Westminster, but that’s a post for a different time. The issue is shops opening longer on Sundays.
In Scotland this has been the case for maybe as long as I can remember. I do remember the novelty of there being Asda stores open 24 hours when I was a high school student, driving about in our parents cars. I have grown so used to it it has taken months for me to grow accustomed to the shops closing at 4pm on a Sunday here in Cumbria. So when I heard Lizard Prince Osborne was going to introduce this after their win in May I was actually happy – the first time since their announcement of the building of a new fleet of Nuclear Power stations that I’d agreed with a Conservative Polcity (not quite making up for all the other abhorrent things that I disagree with). It was a strange feeling.
To my dismay the party that I did support voted against it. But then, can I be annoyed? I can be disappointed, yes, but not annoyed – they’re doing the exact thing I voted them in for, to protect the Scottish interests, and they make a politically nuanced point about how it might impact Scottish workers and the protection they are afforded.
It does feel strange being on this side of the border and feeling marginalised in the way that for generations I’ve felt in Scotland. Decisions being taken out of “our” hands by others, so to speak. There are a great many things that I disagree with that have been in the name of government (that’s what happens when you’ve got a political viewpoint that is opposite to that of the majority, I guess) and this is one that I did agree with, in principle. Derek, a close friend, made a point that I hadn’t realised before that maybe we do need a day off from the work, or those that work in those industries do need a day free from the pressure to work. I hadn’t thought about it that way, and it softened my approach. And now I am living it, and having gotten used to rushing to Tesco late on Saturday night, it isn’t so much a problem.
Either way, it serves as a strange quirk of the constituency system and the cross-border issues created with the non-federalised UK devolution system. The EVEL idea, if it can be blocked by “Scottish” MPs on an almost exclusively “English” issue like this, maybe there does need to be more reform, and this time let’s strive to make it fairer eh?
You know, fair for everyone and that.