One of the great things about the SNP’s Pete Wishart is that he is consistently inconsistent in his views. His remarks on “English Votes for English Laws” (EVEL) yesterday are no exception.
Despite claiming eye watering expenses and a full salary, Mr Wishart has one of the worst voting records in Westminster (less than 50% in 2010-15) as he only votes on issues which were relevant to Scotland. Indeed, this reflects the principled position adopted by the SNP as a whole. For example, the SNP Government declined an opportunity to comment on a consultation relating to David Cameron’s creeping privatisation of the NHS in England.
Within this context, I find it hard to understand the concern Mr Wishart has regarding the move towards EVEL as it is entirely consistent with his own views – it would mean English MPs have the last say on English issues.
Indeed, just last week Mr Wishart complained vehemently about English MPs daring to vote against his party’s wishes on Full Fiscal Autonomy. Furthermore, in Wednesday’s debate he claimed the EVEL proposals were a “constitutional outrage” despite having said in 2014 that EVEL was an “inconsequential issue” that Scottish voters did not care about.
If the SNP is to be taken seriously as a political force in Westminster, and that is everyone’s interest, they must adopt principled positions on the issues of the day. The political opportunism and the manufacture of grievances must be set aside. Sniping from the side-lines was fine when the SNP was a small force in Westminster and had to fight to be heard, but now that they have 56 MPs it is time for a mature debate.