At the weekend, I was sent a picture of an SNP leaflet that had been delivered to a voter in Nairn. It was part of an 8 page newspaper published by the Nairnshire, Culloden and District Branch of the SNP. The section that was initially sent to me was a variation on the whisky export meme and, on receiving copies of the full paper, it was apparent that the rest wasn’t much better.
There is far too much to cover in one blog post but – for the benefit of voters in Nairn, Culloden and District, not to mention the good people of the SNP’s branch there – I will be fact-checking the paper section-by-section.
So, page 1:
There are a few topics covered here but let’s start with the main one – English Votes for English Laws.
The meme to the right says that it will “enable Westminster to block Scottish MPs voting on many reserved issues that affect Scotland”. This fundamentally misrepresents what EVEL actually is and does. I attempted to cover this in my blog Hypocrisy is the Root of All EVEL but I would suggest that this, from pro-independence lawyer Andrew Tickell, is the best summary.
Scottish MPs are not blocked from voting on any Bill, as evidenced by this week’s embarrassment of faux outraged from SNP MPs regarding the Housing and Planning Bill. Reacting to the English and Welsh only committee for selected clauses that do not impact Scotland in any way, every single SNP MP turned up to complain that they were being shut out. Contrast this with the number of SNP MPs who turned up to vote on the 2nd reading of the Bill, which contains clauses affecting Scotland and in which they were fully entitled to vote.
The article also claims that Scottish MPs will be excluded from Bills which may have an impact on Scotland and purports to offer some examples: health bills, income tax, Heathrow, etc – “the list of things deemed EVEL, which directly affect Scotland, is long”.
This is pure fabrication. There is no list of things which are deemed to qualify for EVEL, the Speaker of the House makes a decision on a case-by-case basis after receiving written evidence from the House of Commons Library.
The most misleading claim, however, is this:
This is just wrong. Whether a deliberate lie or incompetent error is unclear.
England’s NHS budget does not directly affect Scotland’s NHS budget. Spending on England’s health service dictates the Barnett consequentials that are added to the Scottish block grant but it is entirely at the discretion of the Scottish Government how much of this is then spent on the NHS.
How do we know this? Well, if the SNHS budget was directly affected by England’s then they would increase in equal proportion. Instead, the SNP are failing to match the NHS spending increases at Westminster
There is no “direct proportion” impact on health spending in Scotland.
Reading through the article on EVEL, it is difficult to find a single section which is factually accurate. In fact, it can’t even get the number of English MPs correct, claiming that there are 653 when the entire House of Commons has 650.
Still, at least they got the date right. More in part 2 later…