According to The Observer, the Conservatives are set to embrace the idea that "Scottish MPs be barred from voting on
issues that affect only English voters, such as education and health."
Ken Clarke, Chairman of the party’s Democracy task force, told The Observer that English Votes On English Laws (EVOEL) – which should also mean English & Welsh Votes On English & Welsh Laws – would be one of his group’s recommendations. Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler, Sir Christopher Foster, Ferdinand Mount, A-lister Laura Sandys and MPs Andrew Tyrie and Sir George Young are members of Mr Clarke’s task force.
In a move that is likely to upset the Conservative Party’s more traditional Unionists, The Tories are hoping to exploit the fact that Labour is soon set to be a Scottish-led party that rules England largely from Scottish constituencies. Top Labour MPs with Scottish seats include Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Des Browne and John Reid. The Observer reports that "the Tories [are] hoping to force a Commons debate on a bill that would allow the Speaker in the House of Commons to set aside specific days for bills that dealt only with English issues. They would be debated and decided by English MPs."
A recent YouGov poll for The Telegraph found that 55% of voters supported EVoEL. There was even stronger support for a willingness to reduce the subsidy that English taxpayers pay to their Scottish neighbours.
The possibility of much greater independence for the Scottish Conservatives is one of the questions that will be explored in the next ConservativeHome Members’ Panel survey (scheduled to go live tomorrow). An Ipsos-MORI poll for yesterday’s Scotsman newspaper found the Scottish Tories on just 15%. UK Polling Report has compared the standings of all parties with the results for 2003’s Scottish Parliamentary constituency elections:
- Scottish National Party 30% (+6.2%)
- Labour 28% (-6.6%)
- LibDem 19% (+3.7%)
- Conservative 15% (-1.6%)
The figures for the regional vote are slightly different: CON 16% (+0.5%), LAB 26% (-3.3%), LDEM 19% (+7.2%), SNP 28% (+7.1%), GRN 6% (-0.7%) and Scottish Socialist Party 1% (-5.7%).