The Scottish National Party’s decision over fox hunting has exposed their desire to vote on English only issues

James Nickerson
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Sturgeon won't be make Cameron smile anymore (Source: Getty)

Last night Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, participated in the mammoth discussion with her party that resulted in the SNP's 56 Westminster MPs intention to renege on their promise to keep out of issues that do not impact on Scotland.

And now, while Conservative MPs had been given a free vote on proposals to relax the use of dogs during hunting, the government would have been set for its first parliamentary loss, as the SNP threatened to flex its muscles and team up with Labour.

Aside from the dismay supporters of fox hunting will feel, there is a bigger problem for the Conservatives: they have a slender majority of just 12 MPs, and the SNP – with 8.6 per cent of the seats – could wield power and mess with their agenda.

Read more: Sturgeon - SNP will be the main opposition to Conservatives

Indeed, Bernard Jenkin, former vice chairman of the Conservative Party and executive member of the powerful 1922 Committee, said Sturgeon’s pledge in February that fox hunting was a prime example of the kind of English-only issue her party would not vote on in Westminster is indicative of how her party means to proceed.

“Clearly they've picked on a very painful and contentious issue in fox hunting, which ironically is one of the least important issues in politics,” said Jenkin.

But what is clear is the SNP want only one thing: to ferment dissent and division to ultimately break up the United Kingdom. They’ll pick on any policy area that is contentious to create such a division.

They will exploit divisions between unionist parties on any issue, and we've got to get better at working with other parties who want to keep the union together to prevent the SNP achieving this goal.

The government expected the SNP to honour Sturgeon’s pledge, drawing up the plans in the confidence it could out-gun Labour, even if up to 30 of their backbenchers rebelled.

Sturgeon says she went back on her pledge because of demand from people in England for her party to vote, because changing the law would affect hunting north of the border, and because Cameron has shown little respect for the mandate that Scottish MPs have.

However, former Conservative Party politician and political commentator Iain Dale said the decision by the SNP is "transparently hypocritical" and a sure sign of things to come:

Throughout the last parliament the SNP made a virtue of not voting on English-only issues. Sadly, that honourable position has been jettisoned just to give David Cameron a bloody nose. The SNP are playing with constitutional fire.

The vote has now been postponed, possibly set to take place after the UK government has introduced measures to prevent Scottish MPs voting on purely English matters.

Read more: Vote on relaxing the fox hunting has been postponed after SNP said it would oppose changes

But while this may be an opportunity to hamper the Conservatives for their plans to push through English Votes for English Laws, it may only propel them to accelerate these intentions.

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