This is an accurate account (the only one I’ve encountered thus far) of this programme:
by Robert Henderson
Any Questions on 21 Feb 2014 (BBC R4) came from Blundells School in Tiverton, Devon. The panel answering the question were the Secretary of State for Scotland and LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael, Conservative backbench MP Nadhim Zahawi MP, New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny and Labour backbench MP Frank Field. A classic example of the BBC’s idea of political balance one might say with two left leaning MPs in Carmichael and Field, an ethnic minority representative in Zahawi and a hard left ideologue in Penny.
The programme contained this question: “Will England be better off without Scotland?” Carmichael and Zahawi waffled about how successful the Union had been and Penny exhibited routine hard left bile over the prospect of a Tory government in the rest of the UK if Scotland left the Union. But then came Frank Field who upset the politically correct apple cart by berating the present devolution settlement, suggesting that England would be well-rid of Scotland and advocating an English Parliament. I have made a transcript of his words and the programme presenter Jonathan Dimbleby’s interruptions ( The programme can still be heard on the BBC IPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vh0d1 – Enter at 33 minutes 54 seconds )
Frank Field: “I think this question is a really good example of how the elites whether in England or Scotland stitch up issues in that if you are giving one part of the United Kingdom a vote to say damn you we are leaving, I think that should be a vote for all of us to decide. And I think we should be having actually a say on whether we want Scotland to stay with us. And I think that what we might well find is that England would vote for Scotland to leave and the Scotland would vote to actually stay”.
Dimbleby: “How would you vote?”
Field: “I would vote for them to leave. For this reason, I voted against devolution. I feared that once we started this process the inevitability would be an independent Scotland. We have the unfairness now of this Government proposing issues which affect my constituents but don’t affect Scottish constituents and Scottish MPs vote on those issues affecting my constituents. . “
Dimbleby attempts to interrupt but Field shrugs him off.
Field:“And therefore I support Alastair [Carmichael had suggested English devolution without specifying what it would be, but implied he was thinking of English regional devolution not an English Parliament]. I think we actually need as a first step in this an English Parliament. I don’t fear that because as we withdrew from Empire , particularly Scotland but also Wales and also Northern Ireland, began to gain a huge sense of national identity, of not being associated with Empire and actually feeling a proper role for themselves. And I think England has been too giving in this situation, I think we need likewise with Scotland, and with Wales and Northern Ireland to begin to find out what our own identity is, how we then join together mix together, govern together is something downstream, but I do think this huge injustice that the others have assemblies or parliaments and yet the English do not have their own Parliament to make their views known.”
Dimbleby cuts Field off at this point and calls for further remarks from Carmichael who just waffles about England having a voice rather than a vote in the question of Scottish independence.
Dimbleby then tried to distract the debate away from such an alarming (for liberal bigots) idea as an English Parliament by calling for one of the ad hoc pseudo polls of the studio audience the BBC loves to use to propagandise the pc view on anything by asking for shows of hands for those for and against a proposition. In most circumstances they can be certain to get the “right” pc answer because BBC audiences for political programmes are generally packed to ensure that the “right” pc answer will be given. In this instance Dimbleby put the questions “Who thinks England would be better off if Scotland became Independent?” followed by “Who thinks England would be worse of if Scotland became independent?”. This produced the desired pc answer with a large majority saying that England would be worse off.
So far so pc good. Then it all went horribly wrong. Field immediately jumped in and asked Dimbleby to put to the audience the question “Should England have a Parliament?” Dimbleby did this and an overwhelming number of hands went up to say Yes, we want an English Parliament.
When “Any Answers?” went out on 22 February no phone calls were taken or tweets, texts and emails read out on the subject of Scottish devolution and where England should stand in a devolved UK.
The liberal bigot tendency who deny England a Parliament always claim that there is no demand for it. This is the exact opposite of the truth. The only reason there is no overt public demand is because the mainstream media and politicians refuse to address the issue.
Field’s view of England needing to find its identity, and indeed of the other home nations needing to do so after the end of Empire, is mistaken because true nations never lose the habit of knowing who and what they are. Anyone who believes the English doubted the reality of their nationhood even at the height of Empire should read Froude’s History of England (1850~1870), or wonder why when foreigners speak of the UK they to this day more often than not refer to England. It is only a Quisling elite who suppress public signs of English identity and celebration. Take the politically correct brakes off English society and the English will leave the world in no doubt of who they are. The quickest and most certain way to achieve that is the establishment of an English parliament.
View Robert’s original piece via Frank Field calls for an English Parliament on Any Questions.