Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “Devolution”

Mundell worried about Structural Damage: Scotland & Brexit?

The Secretary of State for Scotland has said he is worried about “structural damage”. However he said this in relation to the second fire at Glasgow’s School of Art (The Macintosh Building); I have not heard him say anything similar about the constitutional fire that his happening on his watch.

The “Scottish Question” is becoming more poisonous as the Tory Government in Westminster seems determined to implement its policy of “Brexit at all costs” – the “Will of the People” apparently. Read more…

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No Mayor, No Wey-Aye

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that a planned devolution deal for the North East will not go ahead after a majority of local leaders voted against it.

Mr Javid said he was disappointed that four of the seven councils to form a planned North East Combined Authority – Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, and South Tyneside – voted against the deal.

He insisted they would have received guaranteed investment of more than £1 billion and powers over transport, skills and regeneration.

Legislation to devolve the powers and enable 2017 elections for a North East mayor has now been shelved.
Morpeth Herald (quoting Reuters), 8 August 2016 | North East devolution plans shelved after local leaders reject deal

This sounds like petulance – on both sides, but I suspect it is more complicated.

First the £1bn is not as massive at it sounds; it is £30m a year for 30 years. For a population of a little under 2 million, that is £15 per head per year.

Read more…

North East England is not Metropolitan

The mini devolution deal for North East (of England) is apparently in danger of running out of time.

In a letter sent to the councils which make up the North East Combined Authority, and which has been seen by the BBC, Mr Javid said: “I reaffirm the government’s commitment to implementing the North East devolution deal in full.

“[However] without an elected mayor the deal cannot progress.

“There is a significant risk now that we will run out of time to implement the deal unless you publish your governance review and scheme, and move forward with the consultation immediately.”
BBC News Website, 26 August 2016 | North East devolution delay ‘risks £900m investment’

Why does an area that includes two conurbations (Newcastle-Gateshead-Tyneside and Sunderland-Washington) and a huge rural area (Northumberland and Durham) need an elected mayor to manage transport, skills and training? The LEPs (remember them?) where set up by the Conservatives to address issues that included skills and training. Read more…

England’s Confused Nationalism (1. Sport and Athems)

During the Summer of 2014 Democratic Audit ran a series of posts about the (English) National Anthem in response to Roy Hodgson’s call for England players to sing the National Anthem at the World Cup (An Association Football Championship, m’lud).

The issue of course is that the Anthem in question is “God Save the Queen” – one of the hardest working Anthems in the songbook as it fills the following roles:

  • National Anthem for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Salute for the Head of State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (and other Realms)
  • Default Anthem for some (not all) England sporting teams (most notably the Association Football and Rugby Union Teams)

I have always found this odd, reflecting the confused national identity of England and indeed the United Kingdom. Given that the Scots (or more accurately, those in Scotland) have had a thorough examination of their national identity, perhaps England may reflect on its sporting identity as a preliminary warm-up to a more thorough review.

In the new year (2016) Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins intends to bring his English National Anthem Bill to Parliament on 13 January.

Read more…

President Gideon and Lame Duck Dave

Listening to our future leader on the Andrew Marr Show (BBC1 22 November 2015) it strikes me that we (the UK) have a very odd national political leadership.

The Chancellor is becoming increasingly Presidential speaking on all sorts of matters and appearing in photo-opportunities such as in GCHQ and in various provinces as “their leaders” sign up to his preferred mayoral (presidential) form of local government.

The Prime Minister seems to be increasingly irrelevant as he puts his remaining energies into his final tilt at the European windmill.

Is this just an extreme version of the always difficult relationship between the Prime Minister and “his chancellor”? I think not. Read more…

Labour “split the atom” policy

“Renewed Labour” is going through growing pains:

No doubt the UK Conservative party will try and make hay with these developments – but then they tend to go for the “easy” short-term debating-club win rather than look at the strategic picture and the danger these developments could present. Read more…

Is an Unrepresentative Parliament a necessary EVEL?

The Scots (specifically the Scottish Nationalists at Westminster) look to be about to “save the fox“. That raises yet more questions about Cameron’s piecemeal approach to a new “constitutional settlement”.

This arises from the unanswered question about what the UK Parliament at Westminster should be. Whilst I have often complained that I am unrepresented in Parliament, I none-the-less subscribe to the belief that a Parliament should be a representative body rather than merely a body of representatives.

The difference is important and possibly holds the key to the current “Westminster Question”. Read more…

Scotland: Again?

If the Edinburgh Pandas do give birth to a single cub – there will be as many Pandas in Scotland as there are Labour, Liberal and Conservative MPs combined.

But how much of a tizzy should we get into about this (sensational) result and how should the UK Parliament respond? Read more…

Scottish Options

The old elitist parties are getting in a right tizzy about the prospect of the Scottish National Party holding the balance of power in the next Parliament.

But they only have themselves to blame. Read more…

A Programme for the Majority?

Just imagine the following programme for government:

  • Reform
    • A shake up of Westminster
    • Abolition of the House of Lords
    • A fair voting system
  • Public Services
    • No tuition fees
    • Educational Maintenance Allowance including part-time college students
    • The NHS in public hands, halting the tide of NHS privatisation
    • Abolition of prescription charges
    • Explicit protection for the NHS on the face of the TTIP agreement
  • Fairness
    • Pensions that protect our older people.
    • A decent welfare system that helps people into work
    • Eradication of working practices that have no place in a decent, modern economy
    • a Living Wage nation
    • Strengthening of the law against domestic abuse – speed up the court process, give more support to victims, and expand schemes to help offenders change their behaviour
    • Gender Equality: Removal of Systemic and institutional barriers – the pay gap, occupational segregation, a lack of affordable childcare and, sometimes, just outdated attitudes
  • Other
    • No new generation of Trident nuclear weapons
    • Deficit reduction but not slash and burn austerity
    • Stay in Europe

If we could break the internal coalitions in the old elitist parties, could we envisage a parliamentary coalition to support this programme? Read more…

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