Thursday, 8 March 2012

Our Public Duty



On Tuesday I received this self-explanatory email:


Dear Subrosa,
            I am not sure whether you might wish to remind your readers that the closing date for responses to the (not very well publicised) Scotland Office consultation paper on the Scottish referendum is this Friday 9thMarch. Details of the consultation are the Scotland Office website.

I think it is important that ordinary people who are not members of a political party also contribute, as well as the politicians and other interest groups who have the resources to make their views known.

I attach a copy of my own proposed response. I would really like the idea of a Royal Commission to consider options for government of the United Kingdom to be debated, but I am not sure how to kick this off or whether there is likely to be any support. I find it ironic that DFID quite rightly spends a significant amount of the aid programme on “Good Government” yet when it comes to Britain the government seems reluctant to adopt a logical structured, approach to governance.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

James Aitken

Can I ask, if you consider a Royal Commission would be the most appropriate manner in which to achieve opinion and transparency in this important subject, could you please leave your thoughts in the comments.

I, for one, think a Royal Commission would be an excellent platform.


14 comments:

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Great idea SR - only problem is like al others it will be rigged!

tris said...

Mr Moore has already indicated that he will judge the "quality" if the responses and that only ones he considers to be of "quality" will be counted.

Democracy British Conservative style.

Oldrightie said...

Tris, selective not representative democracy!

Fourfolksache said...

Can you provide access to a copy of Mr Aitkin's response?

JRB said...

No doubt Mr Moore and the Westminster government will say of the ‘x’ amount of people that responded to their consultation, the majority were against ‘independence’.

No doubt Mr Salmond and the Holyrood government will say of the ‘x’ amount of people that responded to their consultation, the majority were for ‘independence’.


And No – I do not feel it is my public duty to comment on a referendum on the ‘Referendum’, or on a referendum about the question(s) that will appear in the ‘Referendum’.

Our politicians made there standpoint clear in their manifesto and at the elections – they are payed to do a job - time they got on with it – or do they need another referendum on what to do next?

RMcGeddon said...

I doubt if Dave or Nick give a monkey's what we think about the proposed referendum. Just trying to muddy the waters most likely. Saying it's up to Scotland but of course they have the power to call it an illegal referendum. No ambiguity there. Plus their draft "2012" at the end of their consultation paper says..

"(4) There must be only one ballot paper at the referendum, and the ballot paper must give the voter a choice
between only two responses"

Looks their minds are made up anyway.

pa_broon74 said...

Sounds like an expensive talking shop to me.

Westminster will do as it pleases in any case.

That line about the DFID providing money to encourage good government elsewhere is also a bit of a laugh.

Westminster's idea of good government is Westminster.

pa_broon74 said...

That last post has me sounding like a cynical carmudgeon, we can't have that.

Is there or was there not a constitutional commision set up years ago with representatives from various organisations political and otherwise, could it not be given more teeth in order to investigate.

Perhaps I've misremembered.

I do think there needs to be a clearer non-partisan debate. Far to many snide anologies doing the rounds from both sides.

subrosa said...

Fourfolksache, I will try to put it on google documents if I can work out how to use it. Give me a wee while.
I'll put the link here.

subrosa said...

Fourfolksache, here's the link:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RwQ0wkkt9aEHQ2LDXAb07Dc8a7wE-el04dQx2EKfeaA/edit

cynicalHighlander said...

democracy Labour's way.

Apparently if one alters the wording the form doesn't send!

cynicalHighlander said...

Correction the wording can be altered.

James Aitken said...

Thank you all for your comments, feedback is always useful. I hope you will excuse me for a single response, rather than individual replies.

To put my original post in context, I should explain that since devolution was introduced in the UK, I have always considered that the absence of any proposals for changes in the governance of England has been a major problem with an adverse impact on all the countries in the UK. However I cannot recall a political debate which takes a UK wide view of the future of a devolved UK. A referendum in 2014 could provide an opportunity for such a debate between now and then.

A common theme in the comments is a distrust of elected politicians. This lack of trust is understandable, given recent history. I would guess it is a widely held view and it undermines perceptions of any proposals on changes in government. An independent Royal Commission to consider the options for government in the UK.
Precisely drafted terms of reference and a well chosen membership could to some extent redress the balance of trust as it would be seen to be an independent exercise. Yes, it is possible to fix the approach or ignore the findings but there will be a report and the political parties will have to make their positions clear in evidence.

The current situation under which one group of MPs in England are looking at the “West Lothian question” while Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservative party grandees in Scotland are all separately considering how more powers could be given to Scotland after a referendum is unsatisfactory, not least because it does not take a holistic view of the UK. A Commission could consider, for example how government in England could evolve to provide an effective interface with the devolved institutions in the other parts of the UK.

I know Royal Commissions have become unfashionable, but I think one might produce a better answer than the current separate studies by the political parties. If the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales got together and told Westminster that they wanted a Royal Commission to report by summer 2014 then we might have a constitutional debate which would benefit the whole country.


The next time you run an item about the proposed Scottish referendum on independence, it might be interesting to ask a government minister why they don’t accept a referendum in autumn 2014 and appoint a Royal Commission
Scotland’s choice is a very important issue and there should be a full debate in all of the UK before the referendum. The best way to achieve this would be for the Westminster Government to appoint a Royal Commission to consider options for the governance of the UK, with a remit to report by summer 2014. By considering the UK as a whole, this also could examine how government in England could evolve to provide an effective interface with the devolved institutions in the other parts of the UK.

James Aitken

subrosa said...

Thank you for commenting James. I'm sure readers will appreciate it.

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