What did I tell you? On Sunday, and again yesterday, Zelo Street told readers that the much-hyped “English Votes for English Laws” story that has been gratefully recycled by the right-leaning part of the press was an exercise in the most cynical and shameless politicking by the Tories, as a way of deflecting attention from their having to be pulled out of the mire by Labour over Scotland’s devolution vote.
I say, you there, Security chappie! Eject that ghastly oik Oborne, will you? And before he asks one of his pesky questions!
That the move had not been thought through by either those feeding it to the press, or those writing it up, was in the realm of the bleeding obvious, as Jack of Kent pointed out (see my post yesterday). Parliament could not be supreme and sovereign, and at the same time a little bit less than that if the MPs sitting there were representing Scottish, or Welsh, seats.
That this was a cheap and cynical slice of opportunism has now been confirmed by the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne, who is, for the Tories, the worst kind of critic: someone of generally Conservative, but clear, thought, and with a tendency to call out bullshit rather than remain meekly on-message. Oborne has rightly identified “a sordid plot to stitch up the Labour Party”.
“The story is damaging for the Prime Minister because it undermines the idea that he is a British patriot who supports the union, and makes him look instead like a worthless political schemer”, observes Oborne. He goes on “I don’t know whether Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s Director of Communications, was the ... source. But I am afraid he must be held responsible for putting the story in the press”.
Why Young Dave and his pal Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, would do this is clear. “As one Downing Street source says: ‘It appeals to the Chancellor on every level’”. And, at a stroke, it cleans from Cameron the taint of his having to be saved by Pa Broon, whom he so clearly detests. Oborne has bad news for Oliver: “[his] plan has backfired”. Why so?
“There is indeed a case for reshaping the way that England is governed along the lines Osborne and Cameron decided over their Downing Street supper. But it is important it is not done as part of some squalid, partisan, political calculation. Messing around with the Constitution needs time and consideration, with all parties (including Labour) very much involved. Ed Miliband is absolutely right about this”.
Cameron is said to have entertained a number of his MPs at Chequers recently, the motivation being to frame the “English Votes for English Laws” legislation. It won’t work. He doesn’t command a Parliamentary majority, and in the meantime the holes in his argument will open up and the whole thing fall apart. Cameron and Osborne have pulled a populist fast one once too often.
Peter Oborne is on the money once more. Pity many other pundits aren’t.