What on earth is ‘radical federalism’

BBC – ‘Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said different approaches across the four UK nations to tackling coronavirus are not going to “help us out of this crisis”.’ and ‘Sir Keir said it reinforced his call for “radical federalism” across the UK.’

I have a measure of sympathy with the first statement (although I feel that the island of Ireland should have a united/consistent approach) but is it not completely at odds with the second? And what on earth is ‘radical federalism’ anyway?

A definition of federalism – it’s a type of government in which power is divided between the national government and other governmental units. It contrasts with a unitary government, in which a central authority holds the power, and a confederation, in which states, for example, are clearly dominant.

A definition of radical – advocating or based on thorough or complete political or social change; representing or supporting a progressive section of a political party.

Actually both words are often used to define Liberalism but I can’t say I’ve seen them used as a single phrase before. I think on one level Starmer may mean more power to the regions and countries of the UK which as a Liberal you’ll not be surprised to hear I agree with.

But and it’s a big BUT that aim is completely at odds with wanting something, anything, dealt with on the same basis everywhere. Commonality and devolving power are all but the opposite of each other. You devolve decision making so that power is exercised at the lowest level of government. That means, for example, that you empower Parish Councils with as many powers as possible which can sensibly be exercised at a community level. You only give power to a higher level of governance when it can clearly be seen that it can’t sensibly be exercised at a lower level. But this means that different communities will do things in different ways. At a regional level it will lead to differing approaches too. You can’t have conformity and devolved power.

Yes I’m a political radical and a federalist (I identify myself as a Social Liberal) but I’d love to know what Keir’s definition of ‘radical federalism’ actually is. I fear it could mean federal when it suits and the very opposite when it doesn’t, which sounds very much like a traditional Labour approach. If it does mean that then command and control at a UK level will still be alive and well under a Starmer leadership and sadly it also means he’s neither a radical nor a federalist. To be clear and for the avoidance of doubt I’d like him to be both politically radical and a federalist.

Robert Peston hits nails squarely on the head as he resurrects the Radical in UK politics

www.theguardian.com/media/2017/nov/24/robert-peston-interview-im-not-saying-britain-is-finished-but-our-current-problems-are-not-a-blip

The Guardian has the story on its web site – see link above

After generations of UK political leaders who have just managed our political system and economy at the margins we have almost forgotten (well us Liberals haven’t of course) how only leaders with Radical views can really change things for the better and the common good.

Frankly Peston sounds very much like an old fashioned Liberal Radical in much of this analysis of him, by Decca Aitkenhead, and what he is advocating.

Go on, have read of this fascinating piece (linked above) because whether you agree with him or not he is pointing to real issues where we need radical reform. I’m pretty sure his general analysis is right. If we don’t address things the UK will turn into an economic and social disaster that makes the foolishness of Brexit look like it was only a first if hugely significant starting point in our decline and ruin.

His opinions on Corbyn are interesting but if he (Corbyn) is the nearest political leader we have to a Radical then we really are struggling. A reinvented 1970’s class struggle type-politician will only flatter to deceive.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

General Election – Reflections of a radical lefty

Brexit – Well it now seemingly has huge support as both Labour and Tories were backed to pursue it. What happened to the 48% who voted against Brexit because many of them must have effectively voted for it this time around?

Nick Clegg – Probably for the best that he lost his seat. In many way he was one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable MP in Parliament but because of his poor judgement over tuition fees (he said he would oppose them and did the opposite) he found himself in a place from which there was no return. Indeed, he ended up being blamed for tuition fees when in fact they were brought in by Labour who, in this most recent election, pledged to abolish their own previous policy!

Diane Abbott and Teresa May – They had terrible campaigns, end of. Diane was seemingly incapable of fielding incoming fire whilst submarine commander May kept ducking under the waves to avoid the fire. Has any Prime Minister/Party Leader been so detached from an election campaign before?

Jeremy Corbyn – Well he did not implode as the hostile press said he would, in fact did reasonably well as a 1970’s socialist with a love of nationalisation. Maybe Labour kept sending in Diane Abbott because they knew she would be terrible so taking the pressure of Jeremy? If they did it was a well thought out move.

Ulster Unionists – Oh dear what will become of us now the fate of the Government is probably in their hands? Yes, they will get the blame for supporting the Tories when unpopular things are done but then again on Brexit and Welfare reform the Tories may be relying on Labour backing/abstaining based on recent history. It certainly makes me feel very uncomfortable that our country will in effect be in the hands of a political party which promotes sectarian politics! What’s the chances of it not ending up in tears?

Polarised UK? – Well yes when viewed from some angles but on the biggest issue of the day – Brexit – the Tories and Labour were actually united over pursuing what will inevitably be a disastrous economic process from which the poor will suffer the most.

Pensioners – How many pensioners actually voted Conservative despite their triple lock pensions (brought in by the Lib Dems) being under threat from the Tories? And what about the Conservative’s Dementia tax and their promised cuts to Winter Fuel Allowance? Did some pensioners vote Tory because they still want Brexit at any cost.

Young People – Many voted Labour because of their promise to abolish tuition fees but in doing so they also voted for some Labour MP’s who in effect support the restriction of freedom of movement, via Brexit, which is in no way in the interests of young people. And how on earth did Labour MP Kate Hoey survive? She has been the female bookend to Nigel Farage, representing a constituency which voted heavily (76.6%) against Brexit, yet she was re-elected with a thumping majority?

Tim Farron – He had a decent campaign with the limited exposure he got on TV and radio. He lacks the charisma of Charles Kennedy or Paddy Ashdown but he made a good fist of it.

Conclusion – Not a good election for us radical lefties but then again are they ever? Each time the deck chairs get moved around but the government of the day is always too right wing!