The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-
Well if you’ve stopped by this blog site previously you will probably know that I’m no fan of elected mayors of any type, indeed my view is that they are a backwards step not least because they concentrate powers in the hands of one person and this, together with the related City Regions, ends up with big cities being favoured to the detriment of surrounding towns. And no, of course more elected mayors are not the solution to the north – south divide.
We need serious devolution in England akin to the powers of the devolved nations of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland because England is far too centralised and the issues of ‘the north’ are always looked at through the eyes of the Westminster-based elite and their officials.
For all bandwagon Burnham’s bluster last summer nothing useful came of it, he has no significant powers and he was ignored. Such will continue to the case until we have proper regional governance across England, preferably without elected mayors.
It all sounded so easy when the Tories announced they were going to level up so that ‘The North’ would no longer be at a disadvantage to the south. So far not much levelling up has happened but then again we are living through a badly handled (by the Tories) health crisis/pandemic so they do have some excuse for the lack of anything tangible happening. However, that excuse won’t wash for long.
The other problem is that Johnson’s government seems incapable of handing just about anything well or even for that matter adequately. On that basis there can’t be much confidence that they’ll fix the north/south investment imbalance even when they do actually start doing as opposed to just talking about it.
Jim Hancock has an interesting take on all this. Please have a look what he has to say via this link:-
Jim, as often is the case, gets what’s going on when many other commentators flounder. Not only that but he’s capable of putting it all down in understandable words; he’s part of a dying breed in journalism sadly.
I agree with Jim about Prescott and his wish to bring in regional governance which somewhat fell apart in English terms. I’m no fan of City Region Mayors, I never have been. What with the half-hearted devolution packages handed down when they were foisted upon us and the majority of them not really changing much at all I’d rather be shut of them in favour of proper regional governance via elected assemblies.
Prescott in government was a chap of typical old fashioned Labour hang-ups. On the one hand he had what all but amounted to an approach to this subject that Liberals had been articulating for generations. However, he was also one not to work across political boundaries because all he’d been taught in the insular Labour movement was against working with others who may hold similar views. I guess he was ‘our way or no way’ a view which has bedevilled Labour and stood it firmly against truly progressive politics for generations. Of course he lost his internal battle in the Labour Party over regionalism and having not built any bridges outside of that party his ideas sadly floundered.
I’ve never ceased to be amazed at how Labour can attack others who broadly agree with a policy they are trying to take forward because those others are not 100% backing of the Labour view. Labour has to build coalitions within the party but they won’t build them outside of it and Prescott lost regionalism because of that flawed attitude.
The BBC has the article on it website – see link below:-
I often think of Gordon Brown in a similar way to ex-US President Jimmy Carter, far more impressive out of power than when he was in it. But seriously this is a big issue and Brown, if belatedly, is hitting the right nail on the head. Regionalism has been at the heart of Liberal thinking for generations so of course he is right to start to champion it in England.
This, a direct quote from the BBC article, is pure Liberalism – “We have to give more power to people in the communities and in the localities and the regions. We have a far too over-centralised state based in one part of the country – an administrative, political and financial centre that excludes power from people out in the regions.”
And yes I accept that Labour did bring in regional government for Scotland and Wales as a positive step forward but to have stopped there was a mistake, a big mistake. If more powers had been devolved to the regions of England we may not now be in the sorry sate that we are. And no I’m not talking up City Region Mayors, they are just sticking plasters over the wounds of our great cities. Their powers are both concentrated in the hands of one person (wrong in my book) and too few to make much difference anyway.
I hope Labour takes up Gordon’s liberalising agenda.
With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting
Take a look at the posting via the link above. Iain, lays out the issues very well indeed. It makes you wonder why we in the north of England have accepted being governed so poorly and so remotely (from London) for so long. He makes the Liberal cause of devolution, campaigned for over many generations, seem even more important today than ever before.
Regions would get their own minister
The Labour party has announced that nine English regions would get their own Government minister if the party were to win next year’s election. The network of “regional ministers” would form part of Ed Miliband’s drive to devolve power and bridge the north-south divide. They would champion their areas and supervise plans to transfer £20bn to “city regions” over five years to be spent on job-creation, housing and transport. Ministers would be appointed for London; the South-east; South-west; West Midlands; North-east; North-west; Yorkshire and Humber; East Midlands and the Eastern region. Meanwhile, an editorial in the FT calls on Whitehall to give more power to the UK’s cities. The piece argues that Whitehall has too much power over local spending and that larger cities need to have greater control over important areas such as housing, skills and infrastructure.
Well here we have the Party of centralist control seemingly saying it wants to give power away, but it does not take long to realise that what they are really saying is that they will send a Minister to supervise, direct and control things! Another smoke and mirror policy announcement I fear from an ever desperate Mr Miliband seeking attention.
Of course the regions of England need power devolving to them, of course Westminster is too powerful – Liberals have been arguing this for generations. But you don’t decentralise by sending a boss from London to oversee what the ‘plebs’ are up to and keep them on the straight and narrow. Real decentralisation gives power away and trusts people to make decisions that affect them their families and their communities. You trust them to make mistakes as well!
Of course Mr Miliband’s problem is that he does not trust his own Labour troops in the regions of England; give them too much power and the next thing they will be promoting socialist ideals and doing left wing things.
This all highlights Labour’s fundamental problem; a right wing leadership (which at times pretends to be left wing) with a left wing activist and councillor base which most of the time is forced to do right wing things!
With thanks to the LGiU