You may have noticed the Prime Minister is beginning to devote more of his time to the Scottish Question. He was up there recently wooing voters with a pledge that he would be prepared to concede even more powers to a Scottish Parliament.
Last Wednesday I asked the Prime Minister, given that he is now going to devote more time and thought to offering a ‘devolution plus’ package to Scotland, whether he would give equal time to the English Question.
Questions should be short and I could not make a speech on this issue. But I had time to draw attention to the growing grievance that voters in England feel now that powers have been devolved to Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parliaments or Assemblies.
Devolution has been accompanied by two major discriminatory moves against England. The voters in each of these devolved countries or provinces have far more cash spent on them per head than do voters in England, and it is English voters who overwhelmingly pay all the bills.
Equally disturbing for English voters is that since power was devolved to Scotland, Scottish MPs have a right to vote in the UK Parliament on laws which only affect England or sometimes England and Wales. They are voting through measures which will not affect their own constituents.
This was the issue I was trying to get the Prime Minister to focus on. He had just been given a roasting by Ed Miliband and was not in the best of moods.
That may account for the brisk dismissal of my question. The Prime Minister started waving his arms and legs about saying he had a passion to save the Union.
I do not have quite that passion but what I was suggesting was probably the only way he might be able to save the Union. I was suggesting that he now turn his mind also to consider what powers need to be devolved to an English Parliament.
The truth is I was pleased with the Prime Minister’s slightly angry response.
It means that he is not going to deal with the English Question for the time being, and that gives Labour a chance to position itself.
Some of my colleagues are apprehensive about the raising of this issue.
They know that currently a majority Labour government usually relies on a large contingent of Scottish MPs.
My line is that at some stage the Tories will realise their folly in thinking they will conquer Scotland, and will quickly assume the mantle of ‘the English party’.
As things are currently cast they will naturally assume that role. My plea is for Labour to get in first, to speak genuinely and forcibly for English voters and their interests, and so make an issue, which could politically destroy us, be a game changer in our favour.
Will English voters, who make up four fifths of the electorate, have the chance to mark our card with an indelible cross as pro-English?
Has Labour the nerve to make a game changing strike?