Will a Tory landslide solve the English question?

Tom Griffin
31 May 2008

Tom Griffin (London: The Green Ribbon) Some of the proceedings from last week's Inside Devolution 2008 conference at the Constitution Unit are now available online.

They included a fascinating roundtable discussion on the performance of the devolved governments over the past year: Iain MacWhirter, Martin Shipton, and Robin Wilson provided insightful analyses of the political situation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively. (Audio here)

But perhaps the most interesting contribution came from Peter Riddell, on the impact of devolution on Westminster and on the resurgent Tories in particular.

We've yet to see the Tory proposals on addressing Scotland. I'm sure there'll be talk of a further reduction in seats. I think they're very wary of now of English votes for English laws, because they see the practical difficulties of doing it. I think it's more likely to be a version of the Rifkind formula, of a grand committee.

He went on to suggest that a Conservative Government may not have to answer the English question at all:

If there is a meltdown for Labour, curiously the pressure on Cameron to do anything on the legislative side on Scotland reduces. If he's got a clear majority, he doesn't have to worry about it. It's a notional problem. After all, the whole point of the English issue is only if there's a Labour minority government relying on Scottish MPs to carry through legislation. It doesn't arise if you've got a Conservative government.

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