I did wonder during the lead up to the Scottish independence referendum why Prime Minister David Cameron was campaigning so hard for Scotland to remain in the Union. With Scotland independent, the Labour Party would be denied 41 of its current 256 MPs. In contrast the Conservatives have only 1 MP from Scotland among their 304 currently in the House of Commons. It would have probably made it impossible for Labour ever to get back into office on its own ever again. While this would not have ensured a Conservative government for ever more, it would certainly have increased the chances of that happening. I realise now that I was naive to wonder why Cameron was behaving in the way he did.
Today the explanation has become clear. In fact it did not matter which way the referendum went, he had plans on how to permanently reduce Labour's majority at Westminster. This can be seen as the next step in his shaping of democracy to constantly favour his party. We know that boundary changes will favour the Conservatives anyway. However, now he is going to exclude Scottish MPs from voting on legislation that is about England (and presumably Wales too). The argument is that with certain powers being given to the Scottish Parliament it is argued Scots MPs in Westminster should not then vote on things that English, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs cannot affect in the Scottish Parliament. Of course, 83% of the UK population lives in England and with the royal prerogative legislation passed can be extended in time or scope without reference to Parliament. Thus, now Cameron can simply introduce purely English laws, be guaranteed of opposition not being able to muster sufficient seats and then extend it to the other nations through royal prerogative.
Cameron has steadily adopted steps to reduce democracy. The introduction of the fixed 5-year term was the first move in this direction, making it almost impossible to break the coalition or bring down his minority government. The vote on proportional representation similarly dismissed another chance to make the UK more democratic. Only one, poor model was offered and yet its rejection is seen as ruling out any electoral reform. At the last election the Conservatives received 36.1% of the vote but 47.2% of the seats; Labour won 29.0% of the votes but 39% of the seats; the Liberal Democrats got 23% of the votes but only 8.7% of the seats, they should have received 149 rather than 57. However, these things such as fair representation are seen as 'not British'. The Conservatives benefit from the fact that most British people feel politics is somehow inappropriate for them even though they complain about its impact.
Of course, the chipping away of democracy was begun under the Blair regime. With hindsight it appears that the governments of Tony Blair had very little to do with Labour Party values, they were simply a repackaged form of Thatcherism something Cameron is taking to new extremes. The erosion of civil liberties under Blair, notably the extension of detention without charge; the declaration of war based on faked evidence, the elimination of some critics and steps like identity cards and the RIPA anti-terrorism legislation which has constantly been abused by local authorities, let alone the constant use of the royal prerogative established a culture in which Cameron's steps to erode democracy can prosper.
In future I will be sure to try to see behind every step Cameron takes and recognise that no matter what he says it is about, all the rubbish about being passionate for the Union, in fact his core agenda is about creating a Britain where the Conservatives will never leave office and many of our remaining freedoms will be gone. Today I really pity the Scots for not having chosen to escape from this developing dictatorship. I know it would have left people in England in a tougher position, but even if you cannot escape from the prison yourself it is always good to see that someone else has made it out. Now we are simply going to share our bitter fate together and I am sure many who voted for Scotland to stay under the yoke of Westminster yesterday will soon be regretting it.