English Parliament no devolution solution

19 September 2014

And so the Scots have spoken. Not a resounding ‘no’ – but strong enough to hold the union with enough decent to call for real change.

It’s not hard to see why the Nationalists have won so much support. The referendum was largely ignored until the 11th hour, but when it looked like the Scots may vote to break away, the Westminster bubble hurtled up the M1 in a bid to set them straight.

And votes had not even been cast before the debate rapidly shifted from Scottish independence to the possibility of an English parliament.

If you want to argue that Westminster was too obsessed with a ‘we know best’ mentality and more focus on England than Scotland – as the Nationalists do – the last two weeks have provided all the evidence.

So the question is, where do we go from here? For Scotland, it means a fast-track to devolution – whatever that means. We know ‘when’ – thanks to Gordon Brown’s devolution timetable – but we just haven’t sorted out a ‘what’ yet.

And there does need to be a solution for the rest of Britain – but I don’t believe an English Parliament is the right solution.

England is not a homogenised nation anymore than Scotland – or Wales – is a suburb of London and the South East.  It is a collection of individual places with their own economies, localities and personalities.

In the past, attempts to create regional government – London aside – have proved none too popular either. Now is not the time for another expensive layer of Government.

Now is the time to look at devolution of finance and powers to cities, city regions, combined authorities and county-regions. A different approach for different areas depending on local circumstances.

It is unlikely to appeal to Westminster, which would like a clean, clear-cut, single solution – as is offered by a single English parliament. But as the Scots have shown, you can get what you want from Westminster if you fight hard enough.

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