The United Kingdom maintains its roots of government, but perhaps it is time for some major changes to occur. Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England all have a say in the UK government, but is there fairness in the representation? Currently all countries have the ability to decide on what happens in the United Kingdom government, which is not a bad thing if you consider that major legislative changes can affect all four countries. However, what about local Westminster changes that affect only England?
Scotland’s residents are due at the polls this year to discuss independence from the United Kingdom. Scots and MPs from the other union countries currently have equal say on matters that involve only English residents. Is it really fair for English citizens to be held to decisions that other countries in the UK are making, when these decisions affect only England and not the constituents of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
The Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, or CCSR, drafted a paper in 2008 to examine this issue of democratic governance and representation and whether citizens are really getting a fair deal in the United Kingdom. It is 2014, and though the survey is already six years old, changes still have not been made with regard to representation of UK countries. The fact is, this is an area that remains neglected with regard to innovation and reform.
To answer the question of whether the system is currently fair and whether the English should gain more representation to make situations better, it is best to look at a couple of things. There are 650 MPs currently representing the UK in the House of Commons. Most of these representatives are Conservatives, with the rest mostly from the Labour Party. When looking at what decisions are going to be made, it is imperative to remember that they are made not only on a country basis, but also on the basis of which party has the majority of the vote.
Certainly there is a need for reform in how many representatives there are based on the population of each country. With most of the population in England, it would make the most sense to have more representatives to protect the rights of people. The downside is that it could create a disadvantage for other countries when it comes to their needs.
This is often why nothing is done regarding reform to make the situation fairer. Rather than the number of MPs from other countries being increased or decreased, there needs to be a separation of what can be voted on by Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland when it comes to English-only laws or laws that affect only England.
Local independence is the way certain laws need to be voted on rather than full UK votes. In other words, a separation of local government from UK government is necessary to bring fairness into politics for England. It is not a matter of getting more say in terms of the number of representatives, but getting English say for England-specific laws.
There is no need for Scotland or Northern Ireland to vote for something that is not going to affect them in any way. So to answer the question, it is not more say that is needed, but independent say with regard to what affects England versus any other country. It is understandable for English residents to be angered over equal say from other-country MPs on issues that have nothing to do with these other countries. It is better for reform to happen with independence in the government on country-specific decisions.