Davidson and Rennie at odds supporting SNP in Scottish Parliament

Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has hit out at her Liberal Democrat counterpart for refusing to rule out a pact with the Scottish National Party in the Scottish Parliament, the Herald reports.

Whilst supporting Nick Clegg’s refusal to join any arrangement with the SNP in a hung parliament at Westminster, Willie Rennie would not make the same promise regarding the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Lib Dem leader argued that whilst it made no sense to put an anti-British party in power over all the UK, that argument did not hold regarding Holyrood.

However, he claimed that any Lib Dem support for an ongoing Nicola Sturgeon administration would be contingent on the SNP ruling out another referendum on independence (which a Scottish Parliament that did not contain enough separatist MSPs for the Nationalists to cobble together a majority would be unlikely to authorise in any event).

Davidson has attacked the decision, arguing that the SNP has used its time in office to undermine the United Kingdom at every turn. She has completely ruled out providing any support to a minority Sturgeon administration.

Not that her support would have been anything other than toxic to the new, post-referendum SNP, being the socialistic national spasm that it is today. Both the Tories and Nationalists have hardened their positions markedly since the 2007-11 Scottish Parliament, when Alex Salmond’s minority government depended on Annabel Goldie’s Conservatives.

Northern Ireland Assembly votes down gay marriage

Stormont has narrowly rejected a Sinn Fein motion calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriages. Ninety six MLAs took part in the vote, and the motion fell by 49 votes to 47.

Of the 53 unionists who voted, only four voted yes, according to the BBC, with both of the Catholic community parties officially in favour despite the active opposition of the Catholic Church.

However a number of MLAs from the centre-left SDLP and liberal Alliance parties, both of which formally endorse equal marriage, did not attend the vote.

Social conservatism is much more pronounced in the dominant unionist party. Indeed Jim Wells, the Democratic Unionist PPC for South Down, has recently resigned from his post as health minister in the Northern Ireland Executive over remarks he made about gay people raising children.

Thousands are now endorsing a petition calling for the matter to be put to a public referendum in the province, mirroring that currently being held in the Republic of Ireland.

Jones repeats call for constitutional convention over EVEL…

Carwyn Jones, the Labour First Minister of Wales, has taken up the cudgels once again for a British constitutional convention.

The BBC reports that Jones, responding on the campaign trail to a statement by David Cameron on EVEL, expressed exasperation that Westminster was continuing down the same ‘make do and mend’ patchwork route that has served it so badly since 1997.

He hinged his critique on the question of what constituted an English law, in the absence of an English legislature, although advocates of EVEL can quite reasonably reply that any law which only applies to England is a perfectly functional definition.

However, he did concede that it was difficult to argue against English votes “in principle”, which is sure to aggravate those Welsh Labour MPs fighting fiercely against any diminution of their status and influence.

A constitutional convention was shaping up to be the received wisdom amongst those concerned about how our imbalanced constitutional settlement was undermining the UK before the Prime Minister made his ill-considered unilateral lunge for English Votes the morning after the referendum.

…as the Scottish Conservatives defend the policy from SNP attack

Meanwhile, Davidson has attacked Sturgeon for her ‘opportunistic’ opposition to English votes. STV News reports that the Scottish Conservative leader has defended the move towards EVEL, saying it “completely fits in” with the party’s plans for more powers to Scotland.

The Scottish National Party leader has alleged that stripping her greatly engorged phalanx of Westminster delegates of the power to vote on matters devolved to Holyrood is, inevitably, another breach of ‘The Vow’.

However Davidson clarified that whilst all British MPs would vote on the Budget, as set out in the Smith Commission, if some income tax powers were devolved to Edinburgh then Scottish MPs shold not vote on their English equivalence.

She also criticised Sturgeon for overturning the SNP’s long-standing “self-denying ordinance” against voting on legislation that did not pertain to Scotland.

Nationalist deputy Stewart Hosie countered by criticising the Prime Minister for seeking to strip Scottish MPs of votes on subjects where there was a “Scottish interest”.

This is an ill-defined term which appears to involve Scottish MPs getting to vote on legislation which may impact Scotland indirectly but does not directly apply to Scotland, but with English representatives getting no reciprocal say on Scottish legislation (such as tax cuts, as the Parliament gains fiscal responsibilities) which would impact on England.