Friday, January 11, 2008

English devolution

I know and like Ian Lucas (Labour MP for Wrexham), he is is a man I have a good deal of time for - he is thoughtful, decent, hardworking and above all, an honest politician. The latest edition of the Fabian Review contains an interesting article written by Ian on why devolution for England could help save the United Kingdom - it is worth a read.

In all honesty I have long been sceptical about any further devolution of powers away from Westminster but Ian offers some sensible and pragmatic reasons as to why establishing devolved government (particularly at a regional level) will help improve the quality of life for the people of the UK. Ian argues that it is no surprise that economic success has coincided with devolution and that for too long nationalists have been allowed to misrepresent devolution as a transitory stepping stone on the way to independence. According to Ian devolution can help create the structures that would recognise the differences within the UK, indeed he suggests that devolution would 'reflect them and allow them to flourish, while continuing to facilitate a common approach to problems that all of us in the UK share.'

To read an edited version of Ian's piece for the Fabian Review click here.


skipper said...

I'll try and get a sight of the article; meanwhile I thought the article by Ian McWhirter in yesterday's Guardian was an excellent and on the money-though slightly troubling- analysis.

GW said...

Learn from the Welsh experience - Vote No !

wonkotsane said...

England is one country, not nine regions. Yes, we need devolved government but that devolved government needs to be on the same basis as the rest of the UK - it needs to be a devolved national government for the whole of England.

Until the Brit-Scot Labour government acknowledge England's right to determine the best form of government for itself like they did in the Scottish Claim of Right (where Gordon Brown pledged to put the interests of Scottish people first and foremost) then we're not going to get what we want. And we do want it - every opinion poll for the last few years has shown increasing majority support for an English Parliament. The Labour government still refers to a survey that was commissioned several years ago and no longer bears any relevance to public opinion.

Alfie said...

Hey, I've got a great idea! Why not let the people of England decide what they want..... like in a NATIONAL referendum? (Didn't Wales and Scotland - oh and er, Northern Ireland get one.... each?)

I'm trying to think of the word.... what is it? The word? God, if ONLY I could think of the word! It begins with 'D' and ends in 'cracy'....

GOT IT! - 'DEMOCRACY'.... yeah, that's the word. Do you think Gordon Brown, Clegg and Cameron know the meaning of it?

Naw, I don't either.

It's time to give the people of England (the Country) a referendum on what WE want. Then maybe those Welsh and Scots MPs can spend their time pontificating about their own backyards instead of shoving their noses into our democratic deficit - and telling us what we should be happy with.

Devolution has not strengthened the union, (in spite of what Peter Vain keeps telling us). It has merely shown us the willingness of a flawed political class to exclude 80% of the population of the UK in the great experiment - in order to buy its cabal of Yesmen.

(Foundation hospitals, Tuition fees, the current Planning Bill, etc, etc).

This Labour voter of over 30 years has had enough. No more voting Labour - they have emasculated my country and are obsessively committed to its Balkanisation - no matter what the cost. England is the ONLY country in Europe without any elected national representation... Makes you proud to be British, don't it?

An English Parliament is the only solution. If it breaks up the union then tough. If it's good enough for Scotland, Wales and NI then it's good enough for England.

Quiet_Man said...

Unlike you, I have little or no time for Ian Lucas an Englishman (Geordie) serving a Welsh constituency. His toadying to the Pro Europe thinking that England a proud country with a proud history should be broken down into squabbling little non historic regions is as flawed as this current governments scramble to sell us out to Europe with the treaty. What Lucas proposes is the "Divide and conquer" method of keeping Labour in power and it has sensibly been rejected by the English who see themselves as one people, not nine regions.

padav said...

Yeah, that is a good idea Alfie but at least offer them a choice between an English Parliament that is bound to perpetuate the London-centric centralising culture entrenched within the current UK model and an array of robust, semi-autonomous, financially self-sustaining units of governance at a sub-national level.

Anyone who believes (or tries to dupe others accordingly) that an English Parliament will be anywhere other than London is pulling the wool over their own as well as everybody else's eyes.

The UK remains the most centralised, bureaucratic and unaccountable Nation-State in the Western Liberal tradition. Changing the name over the door to England will not improve matters one iota.

If like me, you believe that the United Kingdom remains relevant and that its constituent parts will retain an inherently intimate relationship for the foreseeable future, pandering to the notion of English homogeneity (which doesn't exist) is a certain recipe for destabilising any form of nascent Federal UK framework based on a partnership between equals.

England as a single entity would fatally undermine any such enterprise and cement the malign influence of centralism we perceive today in the UK. What purpose would that serve the peripheries of England?

wonkotsane said...

Padav, there has been a referendum on regional government and it was rejected overwhelmingly. You cannot seriously advocate balkanising England simply because you are of the belief that an English Parliament would be London-centric. England is one of the oldest unified nations on the planet and you'd be quite happy to see it split up and run by EU sockpuppet regional governments? You're in the minority.

Power should be devolved to an English Parliament just like it has in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. If the English Parliament then decides to devolve power further to regional or county level then that is for English representatives to decide, not British. English MPs had no say over whether Scotland or Wales got their own government and Scottish and Welsh MPs should have a say over whether England should be broken up into regions. Neither should it be up to British MPS elected in England because they are not true representatives of England - they are elected to the British Parliament to represent British interests, not English interests in the same way that MSPs and AMs are elected to represent Scottish and Welsh interests alone.

Where the English Parliament sits is irrelevant, England is discriminated against by this racist Brit-Scot government and an English Parliament will go a long way to stopping that. There is no way that regional government will ever compete agains the national governments of Scotland and Wales and London-centricity is no excuse for wiping England off the map. Regional government is not - and will never be - equivalent to the Scottish Parliament and the euroregions in England have no historical or cultural basis, they are entirely made up and history shows us that those kind of made-up "states" never work.