According to your indefatigable nay-saying columnist Brian Wilson, one of the least desirable consequences of a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum would be that “working people and their families in Corby, Newcastle or Liverpool would find themselves confined to permanent Tory rule” (Perspective, 12 April).
But how dare he anticipate all of the future electoral decisions that our southern neighbours might take in the quite different political context that might then emerge throughout the rest of the current UK.
After all, even within the framework of the Union it has not been altogether unknown for the English electorate to vote on occasion for a Labour government – most notably in 1945 when the post-war reforming Attlee administration was elected with a thumping majority throughout the UK, and again in 1966 with the election of the second Wilson administration and even in 1997 with the election of the first Blair administration. Though in the latter instance, the government’s socialist – or even social-democratic – credentials were suspect.
In any event, is it not patronising of Mr Wilson to assume that in British general elections it is the sole role of the Scottish electorate, and presumably the Welsh electorate, to save the English electorate from the consequences of its own electoral preference?
One of the clear consequences of Scottish independence, assuming a Yes vote in September, is that England gets its independence, too. As a democrat, I can live with that. Why can’t Brian?
Brian Wilson claims that Scottish independence would consign “working people and their families” in Corby, Newcastle and Liverpool to permanent Tory rule. This is not borne out by history.
There is only one occasion since the Second World War when absence of Scottish MPs from the UK parliament would have turned a Labour majority into a Tory majority (in 1964 – a very marginal effect unlikely to be repeated now that there are fewer Scottish MPs). By contrast, in the same period Scotland has had more years of Conservative (or now coalition) government that Scots didn’t vote for than that they did vote for.
The experience of the 1997-2010 Labour government is that the votes of Scottish Labour MPs were used to impose on England policies such as foundation hospitals and university tuition fees that were, if anything, inimical to the interests of working people and their families, that were not being applied in Scotland, and that England’s MPs alone would not have voted for.
Scots should not feel they must oppose independence in order to save the English from government by the parties England votes for.
Bedford Court Edinburgh