Today I received a letter from my MP, Hugo Swire (Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport), in response to my detailed complaint about the Conservative policy of English Votes on English Matters (EVoEM).
My letter spelt out all the problems associated with EVoEM and asked Swire whether he supported the policy in light of the problems. This is what I get back.
Thank you for your letter about English Votes on English Laws. You certainly raise some important issues. Let me start by explaining why I support the principle of this policy. I believe that the West Lothian Question is unfair to England and that doing nothing about it will undermine the Union, an outcome I would find most regrettable.
The next issue is the best way in which the West Lothian Question may be answered. There are a number of complete answers - independence for Scotland, the abolition of the Scottish Parliament or a fully federal United Kingdom. However, I fear that each of these is either undesirable in itself or would cause more problems than it would solve.
In the case of a fully federal UK, I would not want to see England dissolved into artificial regions with their own Parliament and I do notr believe that an English Parliament within the UK would be workable in practice. Quite apart from the costs of electing a whole new tier of politicians, I do not believe it would be stable to have a federal arrangement with one overwhelmingly dominant constituenty part. I can't think of a successful federation in history where such an imbalance has occured.
I have therefore concluded that the principle of English Votes on English Laws is most likely to provide a satisfactory answer to the West Lothian Question. I certainly accept that there are many practical details to be resolved, and these are currently being considered by the Democracy Task Force which has been set up by David Cameron and Ken Clarke.
I do not wish to prejudice these findings but I trust these, in time, will answer all your detailed points.
As you can see he has entirely evaded my questioning. He is simply unprepared to explain to his own constituents how EVoEM would work in practice in case he prejudices the findings of the Democracy Task Force, and this is despite the fact that EVoEM was Tory policy at the last election.
Is there a Conservative in the land who will explain to us how this policy will work? I've written to my previous two MPs - James Paice MP (Cons) and Jeremy Wright MP (Cons) - as well as to Oliver Heald MP (Shadow Constitutional Affairs), and to the Democracy Task Force but none of them can answer simple questions on their constitutional policy. I'm getting really angry about this, really very fucking angry.
Dear Mr Swire, reading the letter that I received from you today (dated 12 July 2006) left me incandescent with rage.
You state that you are not prepared to defend the policy of English Votes on English Laws lest you prejudice the findings of the Democracy Task Force.
I'm sorry Mr Swire but that just won't wash. The policy of English Votes on English Matters was in the Conservative Manifesto. I have had the dubious privilege of living in three Conservative constituencies over the past three years and despite writing to my previous two MPs (Jeremy Wright and James Paice), as well as to Oliver Heald on numerous occasions, and to the Democracy Task Force, outlining my opposition to this policy and stating why I think it is unworkable, none of you are able to do anything other than trot out patronising obsfucation of the type I have just received from you.
You stood for election on the policy of English Votes on English Matters. You must envisage it working somehow; why can you not tell me, your constitutent, how it will work, and; why are no Conservatives prepared to answer questions on this policy?
The other day we travelled out to Thomas Hardy's birthplace to take a peak at his humble origins. A very nice cottage it has to be said.
Even Tess D'Urbervilles kennel isn't bad.
But Hardy was embarrassed by what he saw as his humble origins and in his writings he always elaborated on the size and grandeur of the cottage. Today it's hard to imagine that anyone would be embarrassed to live in such a delightful place.
Earlier I had visited Sir Walter Raleigh's somewhat less humble farmhouse (still a part of a working farm), just down the road from me in East Budleigh, Devon. In my capacity as an über chav I turned up with an England flag on my car - Sir Walter would have approved!
There's a recently unveiled bronze statue of Sir Walter in the town.
Some locals objected to the statue on the grounds that Sir Walter Raleigh was responsible for the deaths of millions by introducing tobacco to Europe. Funnily enough the £30,000 statue was paid for by British American Tobacco.
Local MP Hugo Swire commented:
I hope the statue will become a tourist attraction and I think it is very exciting that, after all these years, we will finally have a lasting tribute to our most famous local son."
"If there are any objections to this from people who think we shouldn’t do this because its sponsered by British American tobacco, I think I shall emigrate.
"I cannot believe that there can be people around who would be so churlish and politically correct to assume because weve got sponsorship from a major international company we should somehow turn it down.
"I just would despair at that point. We want the statue, they’ve been hugely generous - thank you, thank you, thank you."
Sir Wallter also introduced potatoes to the British Isles and subsequently, in 1846, a potato blight caused a famine in Ireland resulting in the deaths of thousands and a great exodus from Ireland. What a bastard! And just think of the cost to the health sevice from all those chips and crisps we now consume. King James showed great foresight in chopping the blighter's head off.
Some more pictures of East Budleigh.