The Attraction of EVEL 160

George Osborne has just proved that absolutely anybody can outflank the modern Labour Party to the left. Given that Labour were pledged to at least match Tory benefit cuts, Osborne’s raising of the minimum wage for over 25s, and tempering of the excesses of non-doms and buy to let landlords, make him look like Leon Trotsky when compared with Cooper, Burnham or Kendall. But then Donald Trump looks like Leon Trotsky when compared to Cooper, Burnham or Kendall.

As I hope I just made clear, I am not saying that this was a left wing budget. The continued wage freezes on low-paid public employees and the cuts and freezes to tax credits and other benefits (of which the details are smuggled in Sir Jasper’s cloak) will hit those already in difficulty hard. And if there is one thing of which we can be absolutely certain in modern Britain it is this. The cut in corporation tax will not result in increased spend on research and development or plant and equipment. It will go straight into executive salaries, perks and bonuses and shareholder dividends.

I am particularly sad at the final ending of student maintenance grants for the poorest. I was educated on a full maintenance grant, and would not have been able to write this blog otherwise. Of this I am sure. Taken together with the major reduction in inheritance tax, the abolition of maintenance grants is extremely retrograde and will help ensure that the poor are kept in their place and gilded youth, as Osborne, Cameron and Johnson were, well and truly advantaged through life, as though that needed further reinforcement.

When I was a very young man, proper socialists (of which I was not one) used to argue about palliatives a lot. Did measures like welfare benefits which apparently helped poor people, postpone the crisis of capitalism and the inevitable revolution? Should they therefore be opposed as unhelpful? Perhaps in darkest Salford there is an SWP branch still earnestly discussing this stuff.

But funnily enough I find myself continually rehearsing in my mind the same arguments in relation to Scottish Independence. I sometimes have to kick myself not to rejoice at the open cruelty of the Tories, which I have no doubt is making Scottish Independence not only inevitable but imminent. Real vulnerable people are going to be hurt by benefit cuts. We have to devise what mitigation through social action that we can. And in England, people don’t have the prospect of a different political system to anticipate.

My answer to the last point is that Scottish Independence will kick the UK establishment so hard that it is the best prospect of shaking up Tory domination of English politics. But the main point remains. I always predicted that the Tories would be back in power after the general election, though I expected it would be in coalition again. My wanting it or not was irrelevant to the fact it was pretty obviously going to happen. But I regarded the alternative prospect of a SNP/Labour coalition as a disaster, because it was the only outcome which realistically might put back Scottish Independence.

I was guilty of not saying that too openly during the election. Furthermore, English Votes for English Laws is entirely what I want to achieve, except that as a slogan it typically ignores the Welsh, Northern Irish and Cornish. The sooner there are no Scottish MPs at all at Westminster the better.

The incredible arrogance of the Tories in enacting EVEL, a major constitutional change, through amendments to standing orders is breathtaking in its audacity.

How far could they theoretically take this? For example, could standing orders say that male MPs can’t vote on certain issues? Or MPs under 50? Or urban MPs be excluded from voting on fox-hunting? The idea that fundamental constitutional change is simply a question of regulations on voting procedure is plainly intellectually indefensible. That it is happening is startling evidence our democracy is dysfunctional.

But it is all gryst to the mill of Independence. The more appallingly the Tories behave, the sooner Independence is coming. They could not possibly be doing more to promote Independence if they tried. I don’t think more than a tiny number of Tory MPs would like to see the back of Scotland, but I do wonder whether there is sub-conscious conditioning at work, as many of them believe England will be permanently Tory.

I don’t quite buy the SNP argument against EVEL that public spending decisions in England affect spending in Scotland through the Barnett formula. Or rather while it is true, I really can’t care overmuch. It comes back to those palliatives. I would much rather the Tories were just Tories, and isolated the Scottish MPs into the second class at Westminster. It will bring Independence sooner. When the Tories rejected every single amendment to the Scotland Act against 95% of Scottish MPs, solely by the massed votes of English MPs, while at the same time proclaiming EVEL, I was thrilled by their blatant hypocrisy. It will bring Independence sooner.

You see I don’t give a fig about the Vow or the Smith Commission. I don’t care who maintains the sewers or designs the road signs. I want my country to be free of weapons of mass destruction. I want my country to be free of the stigma of illegal wars. I want my country to be free.

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160 thoughts on “The Attraction of EVEL

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  • Dave

    YO could have plucked that straight out of my head. I agree with every word and sentiment.

  • Anon1

    Your ‘suicide note’ sounds like a load of bullshit, John. Have you got a source?

  • lysias

    There’s an inherent dynamic in first-past-the-post electoral systems for there to be two major parties of comparable strength. We’ve seen that repeatedly here in the U.S.: after one party or the other does disastrously in an election, a lot of people proclaim the party dead, only to see it recover substantially, generally in a very short time. I imagine the same would happen in an initially Tory-dominated England.

  • lysias

    Savilestan, the International Court of Justice (aka World Court), in that opinion that you cite (approving Kosovo’s declaration of independence) also leaves itself an out allowing it to disapprove any declaration of independence that it — or the powers controlling it and in particular its budget — happens not to like:

    The Court observes, however, that while the Security Council has condemned particular declarations of independence, in all of those instances it was making a determination as regards the
    concrete situation existing at the time that those declarations of independence were made; it states that “the illegality attached to the declarations of independence thus stemmed not from the unilateral character of these declarations as such, but from the fact that they were, or would have been, connected with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law, in particular those of a peremptory character (jus cogens)”.

  • Republicofscotland

    Osborne’s budget,is mainly smoke and mirrors, calling £7.20 ph a living wage, whilst cutting tax credits, is robbing Peter, to pay Paul, the living wage in Scotland, is already set at £7.85, Osborne didn’t even have the decency to match it.

    Osborne’s attack on housing benefit for 18 to 21’s will stop, social housing associations building (according to the press) 60,000 houses across the UK for social renting, this defict of affordable, accommodation will only add to the pressure on housing associations, whose waiting list are oversubscribed at present.

    This lack of foresight from a government obsessed with austerity will see people waiting long term for a housing association house, give up and rent privately, which will cost more in housing benefit fees.

  • Dave Hansell


    What you say is accurate – up to a point.

    The key problem I see is the unsaid assumption that because the two parties have different labels and names they are by definition fundamentally different from each other and therefore represent a genuine choice.

    In regards to the UK & USA this may well have been the case to some extent for a short period during the middle decades of the 20th century but it has not been the case for some decades now.

    Both major parties in the USA have been captured by corporate interests (indeed you could fill volumes of books with examples). Whilst here in the UK apart from the odd tolerated and isolated Labour maverick both parties are essentially singing from the same failed paradigm. The opposition are not called the Loyal Opposition for nothing.

    Essentially the so called democratic choice on offer is he equivalent of that offered between Coca Cola in a blue bottle, Pepsi Cola in a red bottle, Virginia Cola in a yellow bottle or Generic supermarket Cola in a purple bottle. Anyone who wants water is going to die of thirst. It is little wonder that sane, rational and sensible people are seeking are way out of this impractical madness through independence in Scotland.

    The other problem also involves an underlying assumption that there exists either a sizable or potentially sizable grouping in the rest of the UK outside of Scotland that are equally sane and sensible to the malice in blunderland policies pursued by the now four Establishment parties in Westminster. It has been many years since I also subscribed to this notion.

    At present I just cannot see it.

  • John

    If we want to fight the tories, we need to be united. We should look to what unites us, not our differences. But Craig, you invent divisions where there are none.

    No one on the left thinks that “palliatives” like benefits and free health care are a bad thing because they will delay the crisis of capitalism and the onset of revolution. Everyone I know on the left, involved with initiatives like the People’s Assemply, will defend these “palliatives” to the hilt because they make life a bit more bearable under capitalism.
    That’s why we’re campaigning to stop the race to privatise all our public services and to defend the gains we have won – which were got through ordinary people struggling for a better life.

    Your constant jibes against the hard left are very unhelpful in the struggle. Your blog is intersting reading and I loved your books, but you’re more of a loose cannon, a lazy thinker, you tend to comment from the sidelines rather than seriously consider how the left can get organised.

    Still, I will continue to enjoy your contribution and hope to see you speaking at events and commenting via your blog in future.

  • Republicofscotland

    One Tory MP in Scotland yet Scottish residents, have to bow to Tory budgets, independence is the only way forward for Scotland, Osbornes budget, of prolonged austerity hopefully, will push more people towards the independence door.

    Meanwhile Osbornes tax credits cut on a third child, will mean Kate and Willie, will only be able to have two kids, of course they could get a job and give up their life on benefits, but I doubt that will happen.

  • John Goss

    Node 9 Jul, 2015 – 3:56 pm

    The story is definitely there, at least the headline, but it is behind a paywall which didappears the story if you disappear the paywall.

    Anon1, agreed. I left a comment on the previous thread.

  • OldMark

    ‘The parallels between Poor Law ideology and the governments current demonization of the poor seems to me to be absolute.’

    Daniel, your summary of the Poor Law Amendment Act took me back 40 years to my time studying economic history, but you’ve really taken leave of your senses if you think the parallel is absolute. The ‘less eligibility’ principle was applied with an inhumanity in the Victorian era in a manner inconceivable today, mainly because ‘less eligibility’ back then ‘worked’ due to conditions in the prisons being even harsher than those in the workhouses. AFAIK the Justice Ministry has no plans to reinstate the crank or the treadmill (standard punishments 150 years ago), or restrict inmates to a diet of bread, water and gruel.

    In women’s prisons today there is a large population of Nigerian drugs mules for whom a spell in chokey over here is a much better deal than spending another five years in a slum back home.

  • Anon1

    John Goss

    “Anon1, agreed. I left a comment on the previous thread.”

    Good of you, but you only bothered to come back and admit to it after Ba’al-Zeus hauled you up on the other thread. I find it quite incredible the things you are prepared to believe. I suspect you doubted it yourself but chose to pass it around anyway. Dezinformatsiya is something you learned from your mentors, right?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    The ‘less eligibility’ principle was applied with an inhumanity in the Victorian era in a manner inconceivable today, mainly because ‘less eligibility’ back then ‘worked’ due to conditions in the prisons being even harsher than those in the workhouses. AFAIK the Justice Ministry has no plans to reinstate the crank or the treadmill (standard punishments 150 years ago), or restrict inmates to a diet of bread, water and gruel.

    Point taken, but are you really so confident that the (intentionally) gradual stripping-away of protections for the poor isn’t heading for a similar social model? Victorian society was on the up. We’re on the down – yet to emerge from a massive financial crisis which will probably recur. Our economy’s based on a model which institutionalises large pools of unemployed (keeps wages down), and migrant labour (ditto). One which is intensely relaxed about gross inequality. One which prioritises magnitude of corporate profit over individual welfare. Standards may very well slip – or be adjusted – to the point where treadmills and the cat are seen by the Daily Mail as the only possible treatment for poor people, and where the Daily Mail leads, the Tories are never far behind.

    Though the treadmills will undoubtedly be digital, and connected to Global Powerco’s grid.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    John Goss 9 Jul, 2015 – 5:55 pm : “The story is definitely there, at least the headline, but it is behind a paywall which didappears the story if you disappear the paywall.”

    How strange. I can see the full article and I assure you Murdoch has had none of my bawbees. Maybe you’re allowed to read 2 or 3 articles before the paywall appears. That’s the case with some paywall sites. Do they keep track with cookies? Seems too easy – I could just clear my cache. If not, how do they know how many times I’ve visited their site?


  • RobG

    Oh my God, did anyone listen to Iain Duncan Smith on the Iain Dale show on LBC this evening?

    It was like a tory party propaganda broadcast. IDS didn’t take any calls from listeners, and after the interview, Dale asked people to call in. I think only one person did. IDS and his brand are obviously so unpopular that LBC couldn’t risk letting real people on to air their views.

    And all the while, in the news bulletins, we kept having dire Foreign Office warnings about terrorism in Libya.

  • lysias

    Such equality as most of the populations of Western democracies enjoyed through most of the 20th century were due to (1) the military importance of mass armies; and (2) capitalism’s need to compete with communism and fascism. At least until very recently, neither of those conditions continued to apply.

    After the failure of a conscripted U.S. army in Vietnam, so-called “democracies” no longer wanted to rely on mass armies, and military substitutes were found. The smaller professional armies that have existed since then have not had much luck fighting guerrilla forces, but increasingly the real reason for armies is as a potential fighting force not against foreign enemies, but against a rebellious internal populace, a function for which a conscripted army would be extremely unreliable.

    And until recently, both fascism and communism appeared to be spent forces that capitalism did not have to try to compete against any longer. Both fascism and communism now seem to be in the process of being resurrected, as the failures of capitalism become more and more manifest, but I’m not sure capitalists are aware of the danger. Anyway, they may hope to rely on fascism in the future.

  • nevermind

    English votes for English Laws, the kind of laws who do not accept the rights of the child, are the sort of English votes for English laws as we make them up to suit us, to subject you all to more of the same, forever and ever, sort of laws, and may the FoI’s help us with that.

    The SNP should stand in England, for a choice of proportional fair voting system here, for a root and branch investigation/cooperation with others into tax havens and those who have bypassed exchequers for decades, to pile up and compost their money, turning it into a stale number.

    How about some action for Africa, specifically Ghana, where multinational seed mafiosis want to stop farmers gathering their seed for the next crop, [patenting the food chain because some politician was nobbled.

    Question to Craig, is this stranglehold part of the IMF deal you were talking of. This came into my inbox today.

    “Right now in Africa, big business is trying to snatch control of land and food. They’re doing it at the expense of the small-scale farmers who feed 70% of the continent. And they’re doing it with the full support of our government and our aid budget through a G7 initiative called the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

    Can you take action today?

    Projects backed by the New Alliance threaten small-scale farmers’ control over land and seeds, marginalize local markets and contribute to loss of biodiversity and soil fertility. They enable transnational agribusiness and big seed companies to capture the African market, privatising seeds and land.

    For example, countries involved in the New Alliance have to introduce new laws giving ownership rights over seeds to big companies. These seeds then cannot be saved or stored by farmers.

    Ghana is one such country considering new legislation. Last month I went to meet Ghanaian farmers to find out how this would affect them. Here’s a short video about what I found out. You can also find out more by reading my blog.

    Just like we are fighting back against TTIP in Europe, civil society groups and social movements in Africa and beyond are fighting back against the New Alliance. Together we have issued a call to the G7 governments to stop supporting the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

    Global Justice Now is standing in solidarity with them. Will you join us today and email Grant Shapps, Minister of State for International Development, and tell him to stop using UK aid money to fund the corporate takeover of African food and instead invest in positive farmer-led alternatives?

    At Global Justice Now we believe that when ordinary people come together they can change the world. Whether it’s stopping TTIP or challenging the corporate takeover of Africa’s food, together we are powerful.

    To find out more about our food campaign and our fight against the corporate power grab of Africa’s food visit our website at

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Question to Craig…

    I would be more than interested in the answer, too.

  • Resident Dissident

    A node

    Perhaps you should read your own links

    “After months of negotiations, Mr Miliband and Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, have agreed that Labour will stick within the departmental and welfare spending totals for 2015-16 laid down by Mr Osborne in his June 26 spending review.”

    Yesterday’s benefit cuts were not in those totals. Why do you think that Labour repeatedly asked for details of how the Tories were going to reduce the deficit during the election if they had agreed with the secret plans all along?

    All you are doing is adding to Craig’s initial deception.

  • Resident Dissident

    I could also add that the SNPs budget plans were for a slightly quicker reduction of the deficit than Labour – or at least that is what the IFS said in a report I linked too during the election.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    “You see I don’t give a fig about the Vow or the Smith Commission. I don’t care who maintains the sewers or designs the road signs. I want my country to be free of weapons of mass destruction. I want my country to be free of the stigma of illegal wars. I want my country to be free.”

    I assume you are talking about England, and I couldn’t agree more.

    Anyhow its been confirmed – they both sheepishly told us together tonight.

    What I don’t quite get – is that I seemed to be the first one to know. I told my wife 3 weeks ago….but she didn’t believe it.

    We are going to be Grand Parents.

    About time too. I didn’t realise our kids knew how to do it.

    I really like babies.


  • John Spencer-Davis

    09/07/2015 8:51pm

    Many congratulations, Tony.

    Kind regards,


  • Daniel

    “Michael Meacher deconstructs the Tory gloss”.

    The analysis is sound. However, ‘Multiple Houses’ Meacher leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Daniel

    “Though the treadmills will undoubtedly be digital, and connected to Global Powerco’s grid.”

    Very good. That made me laugh.

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