Weekly Review No.8: Good triumphs over EVEL

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Now that I am back from gallivanting around the Lake District, I thought I’d treat you all to a double whammy – TWO weeks worth of review, in one post. This week, the government buries something beneath the budget, it's decision time over airports and good triumphs over EVEL.

1. Budget Burying

Obviously the budget is the biggest story of the week, a summary of the key points can be found here. But, another thing emerged on Budget Day that many people didn't even notice (but don't worry I did), the government proposed relaxing the ban on fox-hunting – and the vote will take place next week.

In their manifesto, the Conservatives promised a free vote on repealing the hunting ban – a ban which most of the public agree with, but most Tory MPs don't. This vote is the first step towards that vote. The Prime Minister has tried to present this as reasonable “don’t worry, we're just bringing the law in line with Scotland". Currently in England only two dogs can flush foxes whereas in Scotland the number is unlimited. It's also a clever attempt by the government to encourage the SNP to abstain on this England and Wales only issue (they would most likely lose the vote if the SNP vote).

This clearly puts the SNP in a very difficult position, their party position is that they will not vote on matters that do not affect Scotland, but the object in principle in Scotland. If they vote then the Conservatives can point to this position and justify English Votes for English Laws (see later). Personally, this blogger hopes that the SNP abandon this position just this once – the law in Scotland is currently under review as the ban may be being flouted, so they could easily justify not changing the law until that review is finished.

While this blog was being published, Matthew d'Ancona, suggested that lifting the ban could retoxify the Tories – something that may well happen.

2. How do you solve a problem like runways?

It was nearly two weeks ago, but it's still one of the most important things that has happened in politics recently – the Davies Report into airport expansion. It probably concluded the worst thing for the political parties – a third runway at Heathrow. The Coalition commissioned this report to kick into the long grass, but now it's back with a vengeance.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrat coalition rejected a third runway at Heathrow back in 2010 after the previous Labour government had given approval to the project. The Conservatives now have a difficult decision to make, they can approve the airport and break a major pledge (could this be as bad as tuition fees?) or do they reject it, potentially damaging the economy. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems can continue to oppose from the sidelines, helping them rebuild in their South-West London constituencies.

The best solution seems obvious, a new runway at Gatwick, which would be much less controversial – and constructing a high-speed rail link between both airports helping create a new hub. This, combined with HS2 to connect Birmingham and Manchester airport to London should address the need for airport capacity.

3. Good triumphs over EVEL

This week, the Lib Dem former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael managed to force a debate on the government's controversial plan for English Votes for English Laws (who said the Lib Dems aren't relevant anymore?). The government wants to change the House's Standing Orders (the rules that govern the Commons) in order to exclude Scottish MPs in certain votes, plans which many say would set a dangerous precedent.

The opposition complained the government are rushing into the change without a proper debate. All this resulted in the government losing its first vote (well, effectively), most Tory MPs abstained meaning that the opposition won by default. The government has delayed the vote until the Autumn, giving more time to debate this issue.

Chris Grayling, the Leader of the Commons, should now reflect on this and return with different proposals in the Autumn. However, ultimately the only way to solve this problem in the long-term is for the UK to become fully federal.

4. And finally...Lamb or Farron? It's time to choose...

Two months after the general election, the Labour party are no closer to picking a new leader, and there are still another two months to go – but the Lib Dem's have steamrolled ahead, with their new leader set to be announced at the end of next week. Norman Lamb and Tim Farron have been battling for the position for two months and that’s time enough. The Lib Dems now need to rebuild before they become an irrelevance, and a new leader will help them do that.

This blogger has voted for Mr Farron, not because his politics are fully in line with my own (I'm definitely lean more towards Lamb), but because he is the charismatic and down-to-earth person the party needs to rebuild. The Labour party could learn from the Lib Dems, dithering for four months doesn't help, look at what happened last time.

That's it for another a week in politics, as always, let me know your opinions by commenting below or tweet me.
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