I was the only Englishman in evidence on Princes Street Edinburgh on Tuesday with my placard saying “Don’t Go!” I’m really glad they didn’t!
Now the English want independence apparently… My answer is elected regional government like they have in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Scandinavia and virtually all European countries.
For instance Germany has a central government and 17 regions, the Netherlands has a central government and 12 provinces, France has 22 regions, Spain has 17.
In England we have central government and 152 upper tier local authorities and 326 lower tier authorities. It’s too many. They are too small to stand up to London and to get their area wisely developed and they are relatively powerless.
They have too unequal a relationship with the centre. In the other countries I think there’s likely to more of a team spirit with the centre having to work more consensually with the regions than is the case in the UK.
So I think all the UK’s 12 EU constituencies (9 for England and one each for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) should have their own regional assembly and tax raising powers and dignity vis a vis Westminster. Further the NHS should be organised according to these divisions and so should many other functions of government. Also the nation’s money should be created exclusively by public authority (the Bank of England rather than the commercial banks) and funds should be allocated in a system like the Barnett Formula to be spent into circulation in the regions according to need by the assemblies of these regions in such a way as to develop the life and economy of each region instead of the London-centric life and economy we have at present.
We have hovered around this idea but never embraced it fully. We had a referendum on regional assemblies that turned it down in the Northeast in 2004 under John Prescott. I don’t think that should be regarded as a permanent thumbs down to this good idea. We had Government Offices of the regions eg GOWM for the West Midlands and Parliamentary Regional Select Committees (without other parties except Labour being represented) until the present government abolished them in 2010.
We need this level of government to get a better deal for the regions. LEPs (Local Economic Partnerships) are meagrely funded, undemocratic and business-led and have some very bizarre borders and don’t fulfil this role.
Dick Rodgers 0121 4760789