Tag Archives: devolution

Put People in Power!

Networked peopleDevolution is boring. Nobody understands it. Nobody knows why it is important. Above all, nobody cares. Why on earth should Liberal Democrats consider put devolution front-and-centre?

At an Autumn Conference event run by a centrist think-tank, Radix, a floor member asked Norman Lamb a question. She said one word that stuck: powerless. The three most successful electoral campaigns in the Anglosphere in the last 10 years are, to my mind: Trump, Vote Leave, Obama.

Agree with them or not, they had two things in common. They were positive campaigns (whether or not …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Champion the North of England

The Devolution agenda looks almost dead in the water to the eagle-eyed journalist looking for the first hint of a Government U-turn on the once flagship Conservative Party policy. 6 months on from the metro-mayor elections the big tests of devolution look to be too hard for its students.

The Northern Powerhouse, once the standard bearer for a new, devolved relationship which will finally bring the capital investment and foreign investment the region so desperately needs, is just a name. Like a flash in the pan celebrity it is now resigned to the history books or to the occasional nostalgic op-ed. Infrastructure investment withdrawal was the last in a list of governmental disappointments.

In the dark, cold corners of the Northern Cities however, things may not seem all lost. Sure, political leadership may be dead in these bastions of ex-industry and trade, but then there was not much of it in the first place. 6 months of political leadership in the hands of a Mayor with devolved budgets and more responsibilities than ever before has left me feeling… nothing.

No mayor policy leads, no new initiatives and certainly nothing to score a single political point in either the town hall or Westminster. Not even my own Manchester, home of science and industry, symbol of human endeavour, birthplace of the alternative can champion devolution under its leader Andy Burnham. That maybe unfair – he did announce the “oyster card for Manchester”, which though promised during the election has failed to live up to billing.

Manchester is the poster-boy of devolution. Its combined authority doesn’t just accept the economic geography of the region, it champions it. The increasing service industry and investment has weathered the financial storm and come out the other side. Cranes and girders litter the skyline. In South Manchester house prices have recovered and booming.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Devolution to get excited about…Part 1

Whatever happens after the Brexit negotiations the problem of ordinary folk not having a voice in the ever expanding global village will remain.  Leaving the EU will not make a jot of difference to isolated Stoke or distant Newcastle.  I firmly believe that the only way to give people a meaningful  voice over their day to day living is through devolution.

As a Liberal Democrat I am excited by devolution.

Devolution is about bringing power, influence and decision making closer to those it affects. It is meant to mean “Power to the People!” So where is the enthusiasm? Where is the excitement? When did you last talk about it down at the pub or around your dinner table?

The truth is that the devolution conversation is limited to politicians who in their clunky, British, evolutionary way discuss, and agree, things like Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships. One step at a time! This hasn’t stirred the local populous and I don’t see many people manning the barricades. We need a singular vision, focus and leadership to thrill people, to show them that there is an exciting future for where they live. A future rooted in their quality of life both at work and at play. This, and only this, will generate the clamour for change.

To develop a coherent and exciting picture for  devolution we have to cover a lot of ground including the areas of life we want to devolve alongside the actual power we are transferring from national government.  For me permission to spend national taxes under the watchful eye of Westminster is not devolution.  Hence I have called this first article Part 1 and rightly or wrongly I am going to start with the geography of devolution.

Like all good presentations I will start with a joke:

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Willie Rennie: Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of devolution

I was still living in England at the time of the 1997 election. As the results came through, I nipped upstairs in the sports centre in Chesterfield where I was at the count to watch some results on the telly. There were was one other person in the room, Tony Benn, who was eating a white chocolate Magnum. Anyway, I was quietly blubbing with joy because I knew that this result would mean that we would get a Scottish Parliament.

A lot has happened since then. Some of the Lib Dems’ finest moments came during their 8 years in coalition with Labour at Holyrood. Free personal care, STV for local government, free eye and dental checks, the smoking ban (ahead of similar measures down south), right to roam, decent freedom of information legislation were just some of the things that we got done. The paucity of the SNP’s achievements in their decade in power do not compare well.

On this 20th anniversary of the devolution referendum, Willie Rennie said:

Liberal Democrats are proud of the part we played in bringing about the devolution voted for in 1997 and enacted from 1999. A decentralised United Kingdom, with decision making closer to people, with a pluralist approach at its heart, reflected decades of campaigning for Britain to become a modern democracy.

Liberal Democrats were part of the civic movement in Scotland, through the Constitutional Convention, that set down the clear path for a devolved parliament with real powers. And they were able to take up their places inside the newly elected Scottish Parliament after the first elections.

Liberal Democrats can be proud that the big difference made to people’s lives in Scotland –free personal care for the elderly and the revolution in renewable energy to name just two – came as a result of the work of Liberal Democrats in the first term of office. People even now still demand that governments of all stripes get as much done in their terms of office as we did back then.

The whole of the UK has benefited from devolution and the transfers of powers that have taken place since 1999.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Caroline Pidgeon writes…Brexit demands greater devolution – a new deal for our regions

Back in 2013 I wrote an article for Lib Dem Voice setting out the case for London and other cities to have more financial control.

The vote to leave the EU makes the case for devolution and fiscal devolution more urgent. Whatever Leave voters felt they were voting for, it was not ‘business as usual’. It was not an endorsement of centralised power, simply removing it from Brussels to Whitehall and job done.

The referendum result not only affects the country as a whole but also within our nations, regions and cities.  The uncertainties from Brexit may well be better managed at a local level, with local and regional government able to respond more effectively.

At present, virtually all taxation in the UK is determined by central government. Only council tax (and in England from April 2013, a proportion of business rates) can be seen as local taxation – and even this is subject to cumbersome controls, including referendum rules set by central Government.  When you compare this internationally you realise what control Whitehall holds.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Farron: The Northern Powerhouse is a sham

Tim Farron has been in Yorkshire twice this week. He spoke at Yorkshire and the Humber (note, the name of the region is right this time) Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday and he was back for the Annual Dinner in Greg Mulholland’s seat on Wednesday.

While he was there, he spoke to the Yorkshire Post and was not impressed by the Conservative’s model of devolution:

One of the reasons the northern powerhouse is a sham and a failure is because this Government are now so obsessed with making sure that we reduce the size of the state that we are therefore not investing in the rail services that we need, in the housing that we need, the green energy we need, the broadband we need.

“Whilst the Labour Party is completely wrong-footed, completely in denial that the deficit needs to be reduced, cleared and to balance the books, George Osborne is mistaking the need to make sure you balance the books on your day to day expenditure with having to at the same time not invest in capital expenditure.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 17 Comments

How should we approach the devolution debate? A perspective from York

York Liberal Democrat Council GroupSince the elections in May Liberal Democrats in York have been faced with ongoing questions surrounding devolution. The recent Summer Budget announcements on devolution pose us with many challenges however they also gives us a welcome opportunity to ensure that decisions can be taken closer to the communities they affect, rather than in Whitehall.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has paved the way for devolution in England with Nick Clegg announcing their City Deal in March 2012. They will hold the first elections for a directly elected metro-mayor in 2017. Authorities across the country and in Yorkshire now have the opportunity to follow this path and submit a bid to gain similar access to devolved budgets and power.

Yorkshire is an enormous geographical area which already has two Combined Authorities and three Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) in its boundaries. The number of possible deals is almost endless. There are debates raging about which towns and cities should and should not be included in any proposals to government.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 9:08pm
    @ JoeB, I normally agree with Stiglitz but not this time. A two tier, or a multi tier, euro wouldn't really solve anything. In every...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 18th Nov - 8:51pm
    And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.
  • User AvatarGlenn 18th Nov - 8:49pm
    The cut price less sonorously Machiavellian British Kissinger, but only because he as a squeaky voice.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 8:46pm
    @ Andrew Melmouth, You could be right about John Lanchester. There are those who do understand what a complete cock up the introduction of the...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 8:21pm
    @ Christopher Haigh, 88% of economists would have said, prior to 2008, that the GFC could never happen. @ Andrew Melmouth, The problems of the...
  • User Avatartonyhill 18th Nov - 8:09pm
    Mike Read is right - I'd forgotten quite how poor our 2010 results were in many places. I'll leave it to those who know more...