Politicians in Scotland are entirely correct to be cynical about David Cameron’s English Votes For English Laws (EVEL) proposals. His position is entirely designed to maximise the chance that the Conservative Party will hold on to power, and has nothing to do with protecting the interests of the United Kingdom.
Whilst I am cynical about David Cameron’s motives, I am rather bemused by Nicola Sturgeon’s response for three key reasons.
One: Whilst her claim that English spending decisions have an impact on the Scottish block grant is correct, it does overlook one key fact. Up until January this year SNP MPs did not vote on issues not directly relating to Scotland – typically SNP MPs take part in less than half of Westminster votes. Furthermore, despite all the misleading rhetoric from the SNP Government now on the dire consequences for Scotland, when asked they declined to comment on the Bill which paved the way for the creeping privatisation of the NHS in England – they left it to the mercy of Westminster.
Two: Ms Sturgeon claims that David Cameron’s EVEL plans are in contravention of the Smith Commission proposals look rather hypocritical when one considers the fact that the SNP have themselves done everything they can to undermine them. Indeed, John Swinney, despite being part of the Smith Commission, attacked the proposals he signed up to just as soon as they were published. Furthermore, the Full Fiscal Autonomy the SNP propose will end the Smith Commission process and the Barnett Formula with it.
Three: Perhaps most importantly, the reason that David Cameron has been able to make his argument so effectively is largely due to Sturgeon and Salmond. Both have repeatedly asserted that they will be controlling Labour after the General Election. Just a few days ago, Salmond was secretly filmed claiming he would be writing Labour’s budget for them. These SNP arguments, which are being amplified by the Tories and Rupert Murdoch, are designed to drive voters away from Labour north and south of the border.
When considering these three points together, the only conclusion I can draw is that Nicola Sturgeon should look in the mirror if she is genuinely concerned about David Cameron’s EVEL plans.