Fact-checking SNP Nairn’s paper – Part 1

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:

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.

EVEL explained

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.

public whip
That’ll be none, then

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:

NHS balls

meme

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

health budgets
NHS Spending

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…

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Fact-checking SNP Nairn’s paper – Part 1

  1. Mr Fraser. I don’t know how much of this would ever get through to the Nairnshire / Culloden voters but please keep writing. It’s clear to me who doesn’t have the time to understand complexities.

    To publish such lies (that you generously put down to incompetency) the SNP must be held to account. All they are doing is propagating & maintaining a victimhood mentality that motivates their base with a “English done me wrong” mentality. They want it badly and since they can’t get it through economic falsehoods in the last referendum – imagined grievance it will be in the next.

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    1. Hi Jim, thanks for the comment. I certainly agree with you that this is nothing more than attempting to generate grievance and a victimhood mentality. In fact, SNP MP Martyn Day admitted that this was their only hope shortly before the General Election:

      “It’s also [about] convincing our friends. Getting people who were No or reluctant Nos to make the decision that, it’s not so much they made the mistake, but for them to feel that they were conned, that they were betrayed, and they have to take the next step. That’s when we’ll win.”

      Of course, we weren’t conned or betrayed so they have to pull crap like this to pretend we are / were.

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  2. As I understand it, the SNP’s objection to EVEL is not to the principle, but to the manner in which the ‘rules’ have been established – the warping of a unitary UK parliament into a kind of mini-parliament within a larger one, rather than taking the more obvious step of establishing an English parliament or assembly – or of finding a more transparent way of doing things which did not put all the onus on the speaker. Maybe the idea of an English parliament would have begun to look too like federalism – something I believe your party supports? If you look at what Mr Wishart had to say on the subject in the HoC – you will see that the objection is to the creation of two classes of MP – where there used only to be one.

    You are, of course technically correct about the NHS funding, but don’t really address the point at issue – which is that if Barnett consequentials are affected negatively by a decision taken under EVEL, then the Scottish government will need to find resources from elsewhere in the block grant if it does not wish to implement the same decision. Whether that is fair or not – I leave to you.

    The ‘final stage’ is also a bit of a guddle if you ask me, since if you have an EVEL clause passed by English & Welsh MPs which is then overturned by Scots & NI, it rather nullifies the whole point of EVEL – No? Certainly I think under those circumstances English MPs might have cause for complaint….

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    1. Hi and thanks for the comment. I don’t know if you’ve seen my full thoughts on EVEL but I posted them here – https://whytepaper.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/hypocrisy-is-the-root-of-all-evel/

      I agree with your final paragraph that this is not a satisfactory resolution for English and Welsh MP’s and that a longer term, fully considered solution must be reached. I support my party’s call for a Constitutional Convention which deals not only with the assymetrical devolution issue but also electoral reform, replacement of the House of Lords, votes at 16 and de-centralisation of devolved powers to local authorities.

      On NHS funding, it is clear from the debate and from the Standing Order that any Bill which has “material fiscal impact” on the block grants will not qualify as EVEL. Personally, I don’t like the subjectivity of “material fiscal impact” and would like to see a better funding system as I’m not convinced that Barnett does the job any more, if it ever did.

      Finally, on “two classes of MP” – this is just the SNP’s latest line. As far back as 2003, Alex Salmond was calling for EVEL to be implemented in exactly the way it has been – with the Speaker deciding when Scottish MPs should be banned from votes (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3243366.stm). In fact, it appears Salmond wanted us banned from all votes – not just this grand committee between 2nd and 3rd readings.

      I’m unconcerned by these accusations of second class MPs, I don’t care about equality of MP – it’s equality of voters which is important. And there is no doubting that the intent behind EVEL is to ensure equality of voters’ representation in legislation which affects their constituencies.

      As for Windbag Wishart, I’ll refer you to the rank hypocrisy I reference in the first EVEL post – https://whytepaper.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/hypocrisy-is-the-root-of-all-evel/

      This is nothing more than grievance-mongering, as far as I’m concerned.

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    2. I’m afraid Mr Wishart, as with most things, is factually wrong: different classes of MP have existed for donkeys years, with the various nations (apart from England) having grand committees, in which MPs representing those nations meet to consider, at committee stage, bills affecting only those regions, with MPs representing the other regions frozen out at that stage (although they are free to make interventions at all other stages). The addition of the English Grand Committee (which is what EVEL is) only equalises the playing field. Mr Wishart is perhaps confused because the Scottish Grand Committee has not met since 2003, as most of its activities have been farmed out to the Scottish Parliament. So he’s making himself look like an idiot, again.

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