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