Keep the English Question on the election agenda: vote EVoEL

This is a bare-faced appeal to my readers to visit the Power 2010 website and vote for the option of English Votes on English Laws (EVoEL).

I’ve discussed Power 2010 before, but just to remind you, it’s a movement for political and constitutional reform that is conducting an online poll to determine the five most popular reform measures that candidates at the general election will be asked to support. An English parliament isn’t on the list because it was eliminated in a public deliberation in December of last year, whose impartiality and validity left something to be desired. But EVoEL did make the cut, and it’s the only proposal that addresses the English Question to be included in the poll.

It’s really important to try and get EVoEL back into the top five, where it was placed up until Monday of this week, when it was overtaken by the idea of an elected second chamber of (the British) Parliament. That was thanks to an appeal to supporters of the Unlock Democracy organisation to vote for that single measure alone. There are only five days left to go, so now is the time to vote!

The idea of an elected second chamber has some merits, but it would certainly not deal with the discrimination faced by English voters under the present system. Indeed, it might make it worse by setting up an upper-house West Lothian Question: elected Lords or Senators from non-English seats voting on English legislation.

EVoEL is currently 94 votes behind an elected second chamber. At one point yesterday, the gap was 98 votes, and it then dropped to 72. So we can make a difference. EVoEL is absolutely no substitute for an English parliament; but voting for it in this poll should be considered a tactical vote. Getting it through would basically keep the English Question on the agenda, and candidates will be asked to commit to supporting fairer representation for English people in Parliament – just at the time when the Tories have now finally abandoned their previous commitment to EVoEL and have decided to adopt Ken Clarke’s ‘English Pauses for English Clauses’ measure: non-English MPs can still vote on English bills at their second and third readings, the only difference being that only English MPs can make amendments at the committee stage.

We need proper democratic accountability: England-only laws enacted by only English MPs; and no MPs whose countries are not affected by laws relating to England should vote on them. So vote EVoEL now!

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