>> 23 Oct 2004

The Morgan Grinder

Leftist solidarity was to the fore when Welsh First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, and Liberal Democrat 'Leader', Charles Kennedy bombarded the unsuspecting folk of North East England to make the push for a 'Yes' vote in the ballot on regional devolution. After fragmenting the cohesiveness of the United Kingdom by adopting devolved models of governance in Scotland, Wales and (sometimes) Northern Ireland, advocates of the Left have now turned their attention to balkanising England: we English are not entitled to a 'national' assembly of our own.

I dislike the whole devolution project. At the moment, fissures in the constitutional structure of the UK are well hidden by the presence of a dominant Labour Party is all mainland constituent regions concerned. The danger arises when a Conservative government (almost certain to be elected as the major party in England only) is returned to power. Indeed, Henry McLeish in his book, 'Scotland First', warns of a constitutional crisis in such circumstances. That's what you sow when you undermine the subliminal objectives of the Act of Union.

It's not only the cost of devolution bothering me, it is the way it is financed. English taxpayers fund the lion's share of running costs for assemblies over which they have no control. Furthermore, Morgan's argument about the 'benefits' brought to the Welsh as a result of devolution must be taken with a pinch of salt. The Welsh Assembly was endorsed by only 25% of those eligible to vote in the principality; it has been a costly gravy train for political near-do-wells; and it lacks any function other than to present a smokescreen of 'democratisation' for decisions essentially still taken in London. For example, whereas the Scottish Parliament can override existing legislation in areas where functions are devolved, its Welsh counterpart can only amend legislation in transferred matters.

Voters in the North East don't need an expensive talking shop with the power of a parochial church council. The respective electorates of Yorkshire and the North West are due to be brainwashed with similar referenda in the coming months. Who knows, if the people of the North East vote as I expect them to, they will save us the trouble of having to give this rotten government a double negative blow.


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