Posts Tagged ‘regional assembly for the north east’

The real battle for the future of the English regions is just beginning

04/11/2010, 03:00:36 PM

by Kevin Meagher

THIS time of year, as the bonfires blaze and the fireworks bang, many keen regional devolutionists will commemorate waking up to find a different political revolution (albeit one with more modest aims) had bitten the dust. Tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of the ill-fated referendum on an elected regional assembly for the north-east of England.

As you may recall, back in 2004, Labour promised referendums would be held in the north-east, north-west and Yorkshire and Humber regions about whether each should have an elected assembly.

The powers on offer were not vast. At that stage, frankly, neither should they have been. This was never a call for mini-parliaments. Or regional prime ministers. Or declarations of UDI. It was about creating small, strategic bodies to democratise decisions taken by unaccountable public officials and act as all purpose galvanisers, instigators and cajolers for northern interests.

In the end, just the north-east, long thought to be the likeliest harbinger of regional devolution, was given the go-ahead. The government had got cold feet, fearing the message about “creating another tier of bureaucracy” was too potent. So it cancelled the other two votes.  The entreaties of campaigners in those regions counted for little. For a government hooked on winning things, the prospect of a triple whammy defeat was too much to bear, so they sought to minimise the political fallout. (more…)

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