Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Propaganda or reflecting the public mood

"My constituents do not believe it is fair that they should face a constitutional discrimination as well as meeting additional costs which identical people in Scotland, and to a lesser extent in Wales, do not face. This is the English Question." This is an extract from a speech delivered today by Labour backbencher Frank Field at the University of Hertfordshire and probably picked out of a press release by a large majority of the media. Whether the current system of devolved governments is, as Field argues, "one of the festering sores in English politics" is a big question. I have seen no opinion poll data to back this up and have not seen it high on the news or public agenda, in fact it is only mentioned when comparing health care, prescription charges and student fees but not seldom is it placed in a wider context. So this may be a personal campaign of Frank Field's that he wishes to promote, and this is a very good way of constructing the argument. While Labour are already in decline in Scotland and Wales, Brown may be counting on the heartland of Britain to retain loyal. Field argues that it is these voters who may "defect to the Tories or British National Party" unless the English are given a parliament. Of course Field does not back this up, basing it on inferences to his constituency, nor can he state to the voters that an English parliament would redress the imbalances in disparities, but it is a very persuasive argument that hits Brown where it currently hurts the post: how to recapture the heartlands of Britain.

2 comments:

Terry Heath said...

“I have seen no opinion poll data to back this up”

Here you go…
The BBC poll 1 “should England have its own Parliament?” (61% said “Yes”)
The Telegraph poll 2 “England should have a Parliament with powers similar to the Scottish Parliament” (68% said “yes”).
Regionalisation Referendum the North East said “no” (78% against) 3
Almost two thirds in England want Scotland to leave the Union altogether 4

1 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6264823.stm
2 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/26/nunion26.xml
3 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3984387.stm
4 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/26/nunion26.xml

“While Labour are already in decline in Scotland and Wales, Brown may be counting on the heartland of Britain to retain loyal.”

“heartland of Britain” do you mean England, because Wales and Scotland used to be part of Britain too?

Labour’s only hope is that the Tories don’t ask it as well because the above figures are simply the result of grass roots reaction to an indefensible, unfair settlement for the Scots Welsh and N Irish. Just think what those figures would look like if a party machine got behind them!

Brown’s answer to the English question is the same as Lord Irvine’s “don’t ask it”, because any answer would hurt Brown’s personal plans. As the PM doesn’t “do” elections and holds his career higher than the party, he is happy to ignore the needs of his core voters and doesn’t give a stuff if it hurts Labour.

“Field argues that it is these voters who may "defect to the Tories or British National Party" unless the English are given a parliament. Of course Field does not back this up, basing it on inferences to his constituency…”

He represents those people. He is doing his job whilst the likes of Alan Johnson are happy to see their constituents get a forth class NHS. I don’t think England will turn to the BNP, we’re too tolerant, but I can see them (including me) turning towards the Tories if they make us equal citizens again. The Labour Party need to decide (like Field) what is good for the Party and its voters in England, but ignore what is simply best for Brown.

Darren G Lilleker said...

Hi Terry, thanks for the evidence, though i do worry about media polls and how informed respondents are about the ramifications, but ok seems there is support for the parliament. Yes I did mean England and not Britain. Does Frank Field know exactly what his constituents want is a broader question, yes he represents them but does he have sufficient contact to know their minds is always a question for any MP. I think often these arguments can be strengthened by demonstrating the strength of feeling and for this to have the unlikely impact of moving Brown it needs to show exactly how strong feelign is among those voters Brown will need to support him and the party, within the seats that are under threat, at the next election. After all if there is sufficient strength of feeling putting the wheels in motion for an English Parliament should cost no more than the blundered attempt to buy the votes in Crewe & Nantwich