Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Shining the green light on devolution and local power

Over the last few days, there has rightly been much talk on the subject of further devolution within the United Kingdom, especially within England which unlike Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland has never had any regional assemblies or an English Parliament. (A proposal for a North East assembly was overwhelmingly rejected 10 years ago, and plans at the time to create more assemblies were cancelled. Labour was in power then and the North East region is the most solidly Labour region of England psephologically)

Although it is obvious that the parts of England need more power, 'English votes only on England-only laws' is not the correct solution and it will clearly benefit the Conservative Party at the expense of the other parties in the House of Commons, without actually devolving real power to local level in England. The United Kingdom, especially England, is one of the most centralised nations in the world, and changing it from a centralised nation into a federal nation similar to the way Germany is will be increasingly necessary not only to reinvigorate local government but also ensure fairer distribution of resources. London and the South East have far more resources per capita for transport than the North East does, for example-this disparity needs to end.

Labour's failure to call for proper decentralisation, as well as its decision to side with the ConDems on the Scottish independence referendum, is already costing them dearly-their lead over the Conservatives is narrowing in England and the SNP are now in first position in opinion polls about voting intention in Scotland, when up until a few months ago they were consistently polling (an albeit strong) second behind Labour; this means Labour in Scotland will lose several seats to the SNP in its strongholds next year. Also, lots of new members have now joined the SNP, to the extent where it is the UK's third largest political party in terms of membership, and Scottish Green Party membership has doubled over the course of less than a few weeks. Hopefully, this advance for the Scottish Greens can indirectly encourage the SNP to stop being 'Tartan Tories' and distance themselves more from the failed neoliberal doctrine.

As for devolution itself, apart from the prominent idea of a Cornish Assembly, I believe England does not need its own parliament, as it is a patchwork of different cultures and regions that socially and culturally are small nations in their own right (or nearly so,anyway). Instead, there should be regional assemblies with strong powers across England, and I believe these assemblies should consist of the following:

Assembly of Lancashire: Counties of Lancashire, Merseyside (not the Wirral as that was traditionally in Cheshire), Greater Manchester (except for the Borough of Stockport, Altrincham, Sale, etc. that used to be part of Cheshire, and not Saddleworth either which will be transferred back to Yorkshire where it originally belonged).

Assembly of Cumberland-Northumbria: Counties of Cumbria, Northumberland, City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear (once part of Northumberland)

Assembly of Durham: City of Sunderland, County Durham, Stockton-On-Tees, Hartlepool.

Assembly of Yorkshire: Counties of North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, West Yorkshire (includes Leeds, Bradford, Saddleworth etc.), City of York, Middlesborough, Redcar.

Assembly of Lindsey: North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire (and also City of Peterborough, which was once part of Northamptonshire), Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Rutland.

Assembly of West Mercia: Cheshire (also Wirral, Stockport Borough, Altrincham, and Sale), Herefordshire, Shropshire ,Worcestershire.

Assembly of East Mercia: Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall).

Assembly of East Anglia: Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire (including Huntingdon), Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex.

Assembly of Wessex: Gloucestershire, City of Bristol, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Hampshire.

Assembly of Sussex-Kent: West Sussex, East Sussex, Surrey, Kent.

Assembly of Cornwall: Cornwall, Isles of Scilly.

Please feel free to comment on my ideas for regional assemblies in England or if you have any similar ideas of your own :)


1 comment:

  1. Great stuff! Devolution of power to this extent is a very exciting idea!