Gareth Young points us to the Daily Telegraph, where Jack Straw has some advice for the Conservative Party:
In the 1955 general election the Conservative party
not only won a majority of seats in Scotland but a majority of the
votes – the only time that has been achieved by any political party
since the war.
Today it is impossible to imagine
such an outcome. The Conservative party is in danger of becoming a
party of narrow English nationalism.
it prepares for its annual conference in Blackpool next week, it must
come to terms with a stark reality: it is no longer the party of the
There are a couple of elements to this, one is the familiar Brownite theme of Britishness, which is partly sincere, but also partly a calculated attempt to ward off any challenge to Brown’s legitimacy based on the West Lothian Question.
The other is the attempt to stake out traditionally Tory territory that dominated the Labour Party conference.
The Tories’ commitment to English votes for English laws can easily be portrayed as anti-British, not least because it is an incoherent policy that is open to a number of legitimate questions.
It seems to me that the Tories and indeed the Liberal Democrats have two options on the West Lothian Question. One is to endorse the current settlement, with all its iniquities. The other is to support an English Parliament.
This might be an easier move for the Lib Dems than the Tories, given their tradition of constitutional reformism. Indeed, it was the Liberals who produced the Home Rule All Round proposals which Straw mentions in his article.
Gareth is no doubt right that the Irish home rule debate of the Nineteenth Century was a very different issue from those facing Britain today. One thing it isn’t though, is a precedent for the idea that constitutional anomalies can be ignored indefinitely.