Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, September 22, 2014

More devolution in the UK?

The Scottish example has more people in the UK seeking more political independence.

Ignored and fed up, U.K. regions call for Scottish-style devolution
A big gap has widened in Britain in recent decades between cities and regions at each end of the country. The ‘North-South Divide’ came about because manufacturing and mining industries in the north and midlands failed while London and the south east saw a boom in financial and media industries.

It’s a source of bitterness for many British voters, who see London as a city state increasingly detached from the rest of the United Kingdom not just economically but culturally…

Now however the Scottish referendum, coming after the United Kingdom endured several years of recession, has prompted local politicians, leaders and businessmen to shout louder for the regional autonomy they need to boost growth in their areas too.

Nearly half of Britons - 48 percent - support more decision-making powers being devolved to English and Welsh cities and regions…

In England’s biggest county, Richard Carter launched the “Yorkshire First” campaign in August, calling for devolution to a regional government.

With a population the same size as Scotland and an economy twice the size of Wales, Yorkshire is suffering because it has the powers of neither, Carter says…

Elsewhere in the north, many inhabitants of Greater Manchester agree.

The county in north-west England has a bigger population than Northern Ireland and a larger economy than Wales. That makes it a prime candidate for devolved powers, says Phillip Blond, director of think tank ResPublica…

Yorkshire, with its white roses fluttering on flags over city halls across the region, and Manchester, with its engineering output and cultural profile, have, along with other English cities like Liverpool and Newcastle, strong identities that help fuel their inhabitants’ desire for autonomy.

Not all parts of Britain can say the same however and so far, attachment to local regions has not translated into enthusiasm for what devolved power is currently available.

Towns and cities have been permitted to have elected mayors since 2000 but few have taken up the opportunity. In 2012, 11 of England’s largest cities voted on whether to introduce an elected mayor with 9 of them - including Manchester and Newcastle - rejecting the idea.

In part this is down to public distrust of politicians…

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