Fears for Scots ghetto in Westminster

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In the run-up to the general election Nicola Sturgeon urged the Scottish electorate to vote SNP in order for Scotland’s voice to be heard at Westminster “more loudly than it has been heard before”.

However, with the SNP having won a staggering 56 out of 59 seats (or 95 per cent) from 50 per cent of the vote, is it the case that Scotland, far from making its voice heard, will actually find itself marginalised in the new parliament?

In his article (Perspective, 20 May) Andrew Whitaker pointed out that the collapse of the traditional Labour vote in Scotland will mean that the Shadow Cabinet will contain only one Scots MP, the able Ian Murray, (although Lord Falconer takes the role as shadow secretary of state for justice).

The days of John Smith, Robin Cook, Gordon Brown, Donald Dewar and Alistair Darling – giants of both Scottish Labour and the House of Commons – will seem long gone.

The Scottish perspective (and the rigorous intellect tempered by a Scottish background) will be largely missing from the party which, officially, must hold the government to account.

Similarly, the Conservatives, the party of government, will deploy their one Scottish MP as Secretary of State for Scotland but, other than Aberdeen-raised Michael Gove, will have no Scots in the Cabinet.

But it goes deeper than that.

There is talk of the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) being wound up because, under the rules of parliament, it must reflect the make-up of the Commons.

This means that the majority of its members must come from the Conservative and Labour ranks – which would mean the majority of MPs on the committee would represent either English, Welsh or Northern Irish seats.

This is hardly conducive to an informed discussion of Scottish affairs. The SNP are, apparently, trying to change the make up of the SAC – but would that simply turn it into an SNP “talking shop?”

And what about Scottish Questions? Will we see David Mundell and his deputy (in front of empty government benches) faced by the massed ranks of the SNP all deploying the party line with no input from other parties with an interest in the issues facing Scotland?

Not exactly a recipe for a democratic discussion that represents all views across Scotland.

With an overall Conservative majority, the SNP’s domination of Scottish seats, far from making Scotland’s voice heard, may simply mean Scots will be shouting impotently from the sidelines with little, or no, traction on either the parties of government and opposition or the major issues facing Britain and Scotland.

Will Scotland become, effectively, a “ghetto” within Westminster?

Peter Lewis

Greenhill Place