Wednesday, 3 March 2021

The answer to the devolution question is real local democracy.

        I recently had my attention drawn to an article in the Telegraph by Nick Timothy, who was Mrs May’s SpAd, which suggested the answer to the issue of Scottish devolution would be the creation of an English Parliament with further powers devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In brief his suggestion would see the creation of an English parliament to balance the devolved governments in NI, Wales and Scotland and the creation of a new federal government for the UK. So, by my reckoning that is a net increase in the number of politicians in the UK which I’d be totally against.

I don’t disagree with the basic principle of an English parliament to discuss English business but I believe there is a better solution than creating another layer of politicians over us.  Like so many others, Nick Timothy hasn’t really opened his mind to consider other possibilities which are outside any current thinking. 

The first key point to make is that while I accept the current devolved governments are probably here to stay our second demand for ‘Real Local Government’ makes their role less important. Our idea of ‘Real Local Government’ is based on the county structure with them being constitutional entities in their own right with legislative and tax raising powers. The more ‘Local’ government is to the people they serve the less importance the devolved governments in NI, Wales and Scotland have.

This is not to say that there are not matters that need to be discussed on a Northern Irish, Welsh, Scottish or English basis but this could be done by the one set of UK MPs sitting, when necessary, in their ‘Regional’ governments in Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and say Manchester for the new English parliament. Then they could all come together in Westminster to discuss matters of national importance.

While this would likely see an increase in local politicians and certainly in their powers it would not see an increase in National MPs who would double up when needed in their respective ‘Regional’ governments.

Although in our pamphlet we mention a figure of around 300 MPs in the House of Commons I now believe a more realistic total would be around 450 but that would still be a reduction of 200 MPs. As to the House of Lords I believe we only need around 300 members with a third each elected, appointed and chosen by a system of Sortition.

In conclusion there is a strong case to be made to the people of the UK that what they really need is more local government rather than further devolution and the creation of an English parliament with its own complement of politicians. What I have outlined above greatly reduces the number of politicians overall while increasing local democracy, allowing the N. Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English to address their own particular issues with the same body of politicians who then come together in Westminster to discuss matters of national importance.

Real democracy is governed by the closeness it is exercised to the people and not by the total number of politicians you have lording it over you.   



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