Reflections on Devolution

I’ve had a thought about possible devolution solutions for England. As a Londoner I don’t think devolution has been particularly successful in London

Devolved power to local authorities

We definitely need decentralisation of power from Westminster. That’s a no brainer. I believe power should be given to regions. There is so much regional differentiation in England not only with services required, but also in terms of political opinion. I honestly don’t think an English Parliament is a good idea for this reason.

Devolved power to local authorities is the best solution, preferably at a regional level (Yorkshire and the Humber, East Anglia, etc.) The problem is one party will dominate a region and create unaccountable dictatorships. Devolved regional power is only possible if it goes hand in hand with proportional representation. This should provide a balance of powers and increase accountability.

An English Parliament?

As touched upon above, an English parliament is theoretically a great idea, but in practically is a little bizarre. A “First Minister for England” who represents over 80% of the population will have a disproportionate amount of authority at State Minister meetings. You’ll have people from Cornwall voting for decisions in Middlesborough, yet both have different concerns. The Prime Minister/Presidential figure will be a bit redundant next the English Minister. The PM will constantly say they shouldn’t be involved in regional decision making and spend most time attempting to influence foreign and EU policy instead.

Instead of a designated “English Parliament”, I believe devolved regional power with proportional representation is the best idea. An English Parliament is definitely not the solution.

Is there even an appetite for change?

We attempted to increase regional devolution with elected mayor referenda. Most cities rejected the proposal and preferred the status quo. We attempted a fairer voting system. The people of the UK rejected the proposal and preferred the status quo.

Such a drastic constitutional change to the UK requires a referendum for people to decide the future. It is likely that will fail. People who vote in referenda like the status quo. Ironically, people who hate politics and want to change the system are unlikely to bother voting in a referendum. It’s a frustrating circle.

I predict some poorly thought out proposal to “fix” the problem will be thrown together in the next month. It won’t go far enough and it won’t solve the problem. UKIP will then start a scare mongering campaign about how the evil Scots and Welsh who are creating all your decisions. Nothing will change. Sorry.

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