Christine Constable: City Regions, the West Lothian Question and the future of England
Christine Constable is Director of the English Constitutional Convention.
It was predictable timing that Ruth Kelly published her white paper on “city regions” two weeks ago, as Labour rush (yet again), into another disastrous policy to avoid answering the West Lothian question before they get booted out of office. This time the model is even more bizarre, advocating Mayors you won’t have to vote for, an end to local government as we know it, and the giving of desperately needed public cash to bribe councils to do away with themselves.
This in the same week the English Constitutional Convention launched itself in the House of Commons, with the simple demand for a public debate on the future of English devolution. Is this really such an outrageous request?
What do the people of England need to do to get their voice heard? The government ignores a million people marching in Whitehall, MPs ignore the sack loads of letters calling for an English Parliament, politicians dismiss opinion poll after opinion poll confirming England wants equality with Scotland. The POWER Commission reports that the people have lost faith in politicians and that most people consider the political system to be corrupt, dysfunctional and undemocratic, with politicians coming lower than estate agents in the trust stakes.
If Conservatives think that their “English Votes on English Legislation” will be the final word on English devolution they are very much mistaken. Any scheme of devolution for England will HAVE to have the consent of the people if it is to win support, without it this debate will run and run.
Is it too much for the Conservatives to bite the bullet and show leadership here? Don’t the people of England have the democratic right to choose their own method of devolution? Scotland had it, Wales had it – the precedent has been set. Please don’t retort that a vote on English devolution will destroy the Union. England was not to blame for devolution. The English were never consulted. The politicians made their constitutional bed - now they must “collectively” lie in it. England wants to preserve her nationhood, democracy and right to self determination, just like Scotland – what democrat would deny England the same rights?
Related link: Priscilla Cullen writes that 'There isn't enough concern about asymmetrical devolution'.