Thursday 28 May 2015

SNP MPs in their white roses derail two flagship Tory policies.

I must say that I enjoyed seeing the SNP contingent with their white roses, at yesterday's State Opening of Parliament. It was good to see them make room for Dennis Skinner on the front bench, and they even took pity on Nick Clegg who was invited to take a seat two rows behind Skinner. Magnanimity in victory is a good thing, although Clegg looked like the man who had just been invited to chomp down on a well filled shit sarnie.

The origins of the white rose as an SNP symbol are lost in the mists of the late twentieth century, but the party's elected representatives do wear them for the state openings of Holyrood, so it is nice to see the tradition being brought to Westminster. It had the added bonus of getting the SNP on all the front pages as well, which gave leader Angus Robertson the chance to put on his happy face. He may have been born in London to a German mother, but as you can see from the photo, he has got the art of Scottish amiability down pat.

Photo opportunities and free publicity aside, the SNP has already been instrumental is forcing the Tory regime to kick two of their major polices into the long grass.

The first was the flagship policy of repealing most human rights' legislation, presumably to allow the police to beat confessions out of anyone that fell into their clutches. Many Tories were unhappy with this, but it was the SNP that began to organise cross-party opposition to the ploy, so the credit for the derailment goes to Robertson's crew.

Secondly, the Tory plan for English votes for English laws (EVEL) was knocked back by the SNP all on their own. The Tory wheeze was to change voting in the Commons by altering the standing orders, but Alex Salmond raised this on a point of order and said that such a major constitutional change could not be sneaked through via the back door. The Speaker replied that the matter needed "serious consideration" before he could reply, and since nobody knows how long the consideration will take it looks as if that is another Tory scheme that has been foiled. Just to be on the safe side, a Labour peer put forward the idea of a constitutional convention to discuss the matter fully. That should keep everyone busy until about 2020 I should think...

Looking ahead, of course the Tories will get the bulk of their policies past the Commons, so long as they stay united. However, the SNP has already scored two major hits in the first week of the new parliament and those of us who are still stunned by England's failure to do its bit for civilised government in the general election can just rejoice at that news.

The denizens of Nuneaton are invited to swivel on it all.

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