Lord Lexden, in his News Letter New Year’s Day article, introduces interesting complexities associated with the West Lothian Question.
Unlike his uncalled for, emotive and irrational phrase that this will ‘stoke up ill-feeling between England and the rest of our country’, I do not share his somewhat over-zealous concerns for the voting rights of those who attend Westminster from here.
When are Northern Ireland MPs ever in the House of Commons to hear specifically English business discussed?
The real issue or main concern Lord Lexden omits to mention is, of course, the forthcoming United Kingdom Constitutional Convention. Now, here is a real matter of substance likely to set alarm bells ringing across the nation.
It appears that, as a consequence of the rise of Scottish nationalism, the convention is not only going to face up to the West Lothian Question, but it will force us into re-shaping the political and cultural identities for all future generations in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Many in Northern Ireland have every right to be alarmed at the competence and abilities of those representing our interests.
I, for one, will be most uncomfortable knowing that my future is represented at the convention by the present bunch of MPs who in the Christmas Eve agreement have plunged our economy into an ever deepening black hole, weighed down by massive future debt and borrowing for at least the next decade.
After their role in the agreement signed up to at Stormont House, and failure to seek proper guarantees on parades while crashing out of the Unionist Forum, neither the DUP nor UUP can claim to speak for the whole of unionism.
It seems likely that they will seek to bar the voices of other unionists from the convention just as they barred them from the recent disjointed talks.
The worry Lord Lexden has about English votes for English laws – the so-called EVEL question – is nothing compared to what is at stake in the Constitutional Convention.
Thankfully – and the noble Lord should be glad of this – UKIP will be at the Constitutional Convention, representing all parts of the United Kingdom and resolutely defending the Union.
In this, the 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta, the roof will not fall in despite the formidable opposition to the Union by the Scottish National Party, Sinn Fein and Plaid Cymru, who together make up a highly-dedicated and highly-motivated collective of dedicated anti-British parties.
They will fasten on to and try to open up any chink of compromise by the pro-British parties. It will be these developments that will have a direct bearing on Northern Ireland’s future and not whether or not its MPs can vote on legislation solely affecting England.
New arrangements within Parliament to give equitable treatment to England or to devolve more powers to English regions pose no direct threat to the Union.
What does pose a threat to the Union is the devotion to destroy that Union driven by the Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalists acting together.
UKIP are prepared for the Constitutional Convention. I doubt if the other parties in Northern Ireland are even thinking about it – except, of course, Sinn Fein.
David McNarry MLA
UKIP leader in Northern Ireland