2 thoughts on “An article from an unlikely future. Part 2: Decentralisation”

  1. Posted 17/05/2015 at 19:33 | Permalink

    I’ve long been in favour of quite radical decentralisation in the UK. In fact, I’m in favour of a federal system. Currently, however, federalism is talked about with regard to the Home Nations, something which, clearly, wouldn’t work with England being so dominant.

    Regions would also not be successful because in order for subnational units to be given greater responsibilities while remaining (if not becoming more) democratic and accountable, people need to feel a sense of affinity with them. Regions like ‘North West’ just don’t inspire that kind of sentiment, as the artificial sounding name suggests.

    Counties on the other hand are entities with which people do relate and feel a sense of belonging. And because they’re smaller and greater in quantity than regions would be, the level of competition between them in terms of things like tax and public services would be greater, and they’d be more democratic and accountable because decision are being taken even closer to the people they effect. Of course, I’d like to see decentralisation take place within counties to districts/boroughs and cities, and for areas like Greater London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands become Independent Cities (London, Manchester and Birmingham, respectively) with County level status and powers.

    Decentralising power equally to all subnational units would be key to avoiding the kind of constitutional mess we’re experiencing now with Scotland.

    Of course, for all this to happen though, the message of decentralisation and localism needs to get out there. I’d be very interested in seeing a more detailed IEA piece about the various options for decentralisation such as which subnational entities to use, the powers they would have and the transitional arrangements for achieving this.

    So I suppose this comment is me saying ‘Can that happen, please?’.

  2. Posted 18/05/2015 at 01:42 | Permalink

    I will pass this on to the Centre for Independent Studies here in Australia. Even more is it important here to get the States off the Commonwealth “teat”.

    I would like to see this expanded – how exactly is the transformation to be initiated and carried through? At least in the UK you have no problems with a Second House with an obstructive majority of ALP, Greens and independent Senators.

    The Commonwealth has no hospitals to run, no schools to run (those in the Territories are run by Territory governments) but we have a large Department of Education and a large Department of Health – which at least has the justification of quarantine (think Johnny Depp”s dogs!). The Commonwealth taxes fuel for motor vehicles, and provides money to the States and Territories for roads – very difficult to decide where the balance lies between insufficient funds to States for roads, as motoring organizations whine, or too much, as public transit enthusiasts complain. But while the Commonwealth is willing to give money to the States for major urban motorway projects (East-West Link in Melbourne, cost anywhere between $8B and $18B, and WestConnex in Sydney, at least $10B but more like $15B), not a penny for urban rail or light rail projects which are arguably of better value to more people, and are believed to have better BCRs.

    Good work, I like the article.

    Dudley Horscroft

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