McWhirter on the Brown succession

Iain McWhirter in the Sunday Herald believes that Tony Blair has effectively recognised Gordon Brown as Prime Minister in waiting, and looks at some of the tensions this could cause in the English-Scottish relationship. (hat-tip to the CEP Blog.)

There may be questions about Scottish MPs voting on purely English bills in the Commons, when English MPs have no reciprocal rights to vote in the Scottish Parliament on devolved issues. But there is no reason at all why the head of the government should not be Scottish. All members of parliament are equal under the constitution. The Prime Minister governs in the name of all members of the House of Commons. Brown could be a double Dutchman or a spear-carrying Zulu – if he has a seat in parliament, and can command the support of a majority in the House, then he can and must be Prime Minister.

The article is worth reading in full, but I think McWhirter under-estimates the democratic deficit inherent in the current constitutional position. Scottish MPs voting on English issues are effectively accountable to no-one.

Addressing that anomaly will require a separate English majority, and thererefore a separate English Government and Parliament.



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