Monday, May 29, 2006

English Devolution: how far?

Bishop Hill has followed up on my post from Friday about the need for reform of how England is governed:
I reckon in fact that the advent of an English Parliament would be good not only for the English but also for the Celtic fringe, in that the loss of their subsidies will force them to embrace business in the way that their brethren in Ireland have done.

How then to square this with the ideas that I have put forward here and at Liberty Central (and that MatGB seems to share) for devolution of power down to the lowest practicable levels? What is the point of an English Parliament if all the power resides at community level? It's hard to think of many areas of policy which would sit naturally at an England level were this kind of constitution to be enforced
He follows up with a discussion of Bondwoman's excellent post at the Sharpener and concludes:
The answer then appears to me to be that there may in fact be no need for an English Parliament, because the constitutional imbalance can be righted and more local government delivered, without it.
This is, essentially, my position; we need to localise power. That it is, as Stuart observed in the comments, "for the English to decide how their country is governed, not the Scots, not the Welsh and not the Northern Irish" is unarguable. Where I disagree with him is his desire to see an English Parliament first. I want a Convention that will discuss how we are governed, followed by a preferendum to the people asking them how they wish to be governed. That has to be an essential cause that all reformers can agree on, regardless of what actual outcome we want, right?

I'm not closing comments on this post, but I'd like to keep them all together either here where I asked the questions or on Bishop's post here if possible? Danke.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll comment here if that's OK. I just wanted to say that whatever our differences on this matter we can agree that the situation needs to be addressed, and on the need for an English Constitutional Convention, and a referendum, for the English to be givenm their say.

Once the English, as a nation, are given a say, then no one can have any grudge about the outcome. Unless, of course, it is run in the same hopelessly incompetent manner as Prescott's regional referendum campaign, half-thought through, full of poliical bias, and morally bankrupt. 

Posted by Toque

Anonymous said...

Unless, of course, it is run in the same hopelessly incompetent manner as Prescott's regional referendum campaign, half-thought through, full of poliical bias, and morally bankrupt.  

Absolutely agree. That white elephant was a waste of space, didn't devolve any real power, didn't give anything useful to the localities, and appeared to be just another layer of bureacracy. Did more damage to the idea of decentralisation than any other single act. 

Posted by MatGB

Anonymous said...

As a wild piece of speculation, I'd suggest that up until Welsh/Scottish devolution, the English considered themselves to already have an English Parliament: Westminster. They had the vast majority of MPs and the English are much more prone, in my experience, to confuse Britishness with Englishness (i.e. not only that if you're English, you're also British, but also that if you're British then you're also English). Devolution has raised the West Lothian Question, which is enhanced in importance in a Parliament controlled by a (smallish) majority government with disproportionate support in Wales/Scotland. 

Posted by Simstim

Anonymous said...

How far?All the way, Mat, all the way.

The genie is out of the bottle, no amount of 'local empowerment' (however emasculated) will stuff it back in. I want local power - sure, but I want it under an umbrella of a national government. That national government is an English Parliament.

The current system of Health, Education and Public Services Apartheid as practiced in the UK is nothing less than disgusting. I'm English ergo I don't have the same benefits that my celtic cousins have in the major public spending sectors. In fact I'm penalised - just for being English..... APARTHEID if ever I saw it.

Do you really think that those power mad numpties in Westminster will give up power over English Health, Education, Planning, Transport, etc, etc? Currently at Westminster 85% of debating time is taken up with purely English matters - so if Blair, Brown, Cameron, Ming and the rest of the Cabal of Comrades DID empower local communities with at least the power of the Scottish Parliament, what the hell with those boys be doing for 85% of their working day.... playing Croquet, cadging holidays?.....

Local empowerment will never happen until we have a national government not obsessed with losing power. A Westminster goverment IS, a national English Parliameent will have a more secure modus operandii, they will HAVE A MANDATE FROM THE PEOPLE - democracy in action, ain't it wonderful?

We're past navel gazing, action is required. Honestly, the inability of so called brain of a planet politicians who fail to think right through to the zed box just appalls me. Or maybe it's arrogance.... Blair thinking he could get away with giving 15% of the UK population democratic treats while failing to address the other 85% is just criminal.

Don't you agree? 

Posted by alfie

Anonymous said...

'stim, you are, in many ways I suspect, correct. Some of us have been in favour of decentralisation for a long time (I personally favour the Spanish model), one oof the (many?) great failures of this Govt has been to botch the decentralisation; some of them are in favour, but Blair both "didn't see any votes in it" and also "didn't want to give any power away".

Alfie/Steve? One of the problems this debate has is the hyperbole it sometimes attracts. An Englishman living  in Scotland has access to the same priviledges that a native born Scot has. The Scottish have decided to spend money in different ways. Is it an equitable settlement? Hell no. But apartheid? By using such language, you colour the debate and, more importantly, devalue your point. Scots in England are subject to English restrictions as determined by Westminster. Angles in Scotland are subject to restrictions as determined in Holyrood. That's not apartheid, there is no discrimination based on anything except location.

If we're to decentralise, pointless lnaguage such as "postcode lottery" must be dismissed as the flasehood it is. I want the decisions that affect me to be taken as close to me as possible. Westminster is too remote, as would be any Parliament for all England.

Do I think Westminster politicians will give real power up? Some want to, and are on record as having wanted to for many years. Others? Well, we can get rid of them. We need to take the power back. That's why I back a broad, cross-party constitutional reform movement. It can't concentrate on any single issue, no matter how individually important (to me, voting system is far more important as a basic problem, but I recognise the validity of others).

I'm afraid I don't actually understand your last point, could you rephrase it? 

Posted by MatGB

Anonymous said...

It's gratifying that the debate has moved to this point. Personally I want independence for England so a further localisation would be more than acceptable to me without having to worry, then, about the subsumation of England by a Blair-esque PM or the EU's sneaky power grabbing... 

Posted by Gavin Ayling

Anonymous said...

if we the english are denied equality with the scots and welsh we should forcibly remove this lot of self serving parasites from office.and then we should re nationalise all of the things blair gave to his fat cat business cronies.we should also do away with the 30 year rule,if any government officialhas commited wrong there should be a trial and if found guilty go to prison.the greco,german,scots royal family can piss off aswell.the lottery would stay as is except,the money raised in england would be spent in england,and the prize fund similarily split.if needs be we should fight our celtic oppressors and yes i mean have a war.

MatGB said...

Have a war with our celtic oppressors?

Bwah ha! Oh, wait, are you serious? You think the English are being oppressed? What colour is the sky where you're from?

(also? Site closed, commenting here a bit pointless, but there y'go)