Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bright sunny day + The England Question

Just recently got back to the flat after a completely unexpected trip to see a friend, was rather nice. Would've written about the Dunfermline result, but, well:
it has wiped the smirk off Labour faces
Couldn't have put it better myself Paul. Gordon Brown's got a new MP, innit funny? Wonderful example of our tired government failing.

The two posts on Northern Ireland have provoked some excellent, and thought provoking, comments, and I'm very glad I finally kicked that can of worms; been meaning to for awhile.

Lastly, Gareth and JohnJo have both linked to a study by noted academic Robert Hazell entitled "The England Question". I've got a full printout, and am reading it through. It does appear to address the issues thoroughly, and raises many of the concerns I myself have been voicing; it is rather dry and academic though, so not something I particularly wanted to read while walking the cliffs of Bude. NB, I have read a criticism of the Constitution Unit as being "Government Funded". Well, yes, it's part of University College London; all but one British University is largely government funded. It also does paid-for research. Govts don't always like the results of academic research they've paid for...

A full review will follow soon; not setting a deadline for myself though, I want to make sure I really understand it, and possibly check some of his sources. In the meantime, for anyone interested in devolution issues generally and English governance as a specific, I strongly recommend reading it.

Aside: Gareth also has some pictures of some gorgeous ice sculptures up, well worth a look.


Anonymous said...

The Oxford article you link to is pretty superficial.

They state that regionalism is the only feasible solution to the England Question, which in my view is correct, and commend the sorts of efforts that the Maples electoral bill is making on constituency sizes.

There is pair of enormous smelly elephants in the room with the good Professor Hazell: horizontal and vertical fiscal imbalance. The closest he will allow himself to come to addressing their existence is when he notes that a demand for equality of standards in public services creates a drive towards centralisation. If I were a Labour or possibly even Lib Dem partisan, I'd shut up about this. If I were a Tory partisan, I might gaze on Raging Pachyderm Horizontal Fiscal Imbalance with considerable interest: regionalism might be a means to the end of reducing redistribution of wealth. Of course it may be possible so to draw regional boundaries as to create entities so impoverished as to qualify for transfer payments from the EU rather than only the rest of the UK.
But I'm not a Tory partisan so I don't think that.

The vertical fiscal imbalance question seems to me much harder: how big a tax base can you have that doesn't cross regional boundaries in messy ways? If I live in East Anglia and commute to London, whose government should get my income tax? Well, neither - it should be collected nationally, leaving little insufficient fiscal muscle at regional level to motivate the sort of fiscal feedback necessary to get democracy to work.

Anonymous said...

should of course have read "pachyderm of", rather than just "pachyderm"