The argument against regional government

We’ve all, I think, noted that the Labour front bench these days is not exactly top notch?

Sure, OK, they’re the B team, the B Ark even, but it does show how thin the talent is in politics.

And we’re going to try and find enough people to fill 6 or 8 regional administrations given this dearth?

Do note that I wouldn’t be insistent that the Tory benches B Ark would be any better.

26 thoughts on “The argument against regional government”

  1. The Inimitable Steve

    Well, elected PCC’s have proved a monumental waste of time, have they not? They’re mysterious like the druids: nobody knows who they are. Or what they are doing.

    Candidly, we have too many politicians in this country and it’s time we humanely hunted them with dogs.

    Imagine how much better Question Time would be if Eddie Izzard was sweating over the possibility of being trampled by posh people on horses at any moment.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    There’s a lot of people don’t mind going in to local politics but not interested in national politics who seem reasonably competent. I don’t have a problem with most of our county councillors. I was also reading about the guy who runs Newham council and he struck me as quite good, as was the guy who ran Manchester, but they’re now going to get fucked over by Andy Burnham.

    Over time it could be a way of sorting out the wheat and chaff of national politics.

  3. What’s wrong with more layers of government? France has about 7 before you get down to commune level, and this makes it a dynamic oasis of economic freedom and… oh, wait.

  4. The main problem is that all the Northern cities would vote for socialism, which is to say massive overspending and penury. Then the national government would have to bail them out, without the voters learning anything at all. The national government itself has the same inclinations but at least can’t pass the buck anywhere.

    How anyone can look at the track record of the SNP and want more localism is a mystery to me.

  5. The Swiss cantons and German Länder seem to manage. Plenty of small countries cope just fine too. Therefore we can conclude that more powers for the regions and/or independence for the porridge wogs is the way to go.

    Mind you, an examination of American local politics will quickly disabuse you of such lofty ideals.

  6. I suspect there is a bigger picture with regional authorities. Set them up, then reduce numbers in Westminster considerably and many ex-Westminster MPs would flock to regional authorities.

    Why should England be regional when other nations are allowed their own authorities?

  7. Some Labour local authorities can be quite free market. County Durham allows lots of building, so much that the Lib Dems have become the Nimbys objecting to building student accommodation which has a view of the cathedral, and objecting to closing a military museum with few visitors. Give councils an opt out on the NPPF,and an opt out on the National Living Wage and there could be fun and joy ahead.

  8. This sounds like a holdover from the EU’s now defunct plans to destroy the traditional nations of Europe by creating arbitrary regional EU satrapies. One of the few bright moments under New Labour was when Fat Bastard Prescott was told by voters to stuff ZaNu’s planned region in the North-East (an EU warm-up exercise).

    Less politics and pork-power in general never mind messing about splitting it up.

  9. Wot BiND said. There are plenty of good people in local politics, particularly at County level, but the mechanisms and processes by which candidates get selected for national seats and government positions seem to pass them by (assuming they want to put themselves forwàrd).

  10. and with regional government will come regional “investment” and regional banks with political ties – it’s like no-one has actually bothered to look at the Spanish caixas

  11. The West Mids, given the choice of a former MP and a bloke used to run John Lewis opted for the latter. Wisely.

    Regional assemblies, talking shops for people aiming to get onto the greasy pole, I think we can do without.

  12. @ The Inimitable Steve
    Elected PCCs are a feature of the Church of England taking New Testament doctrine seriously and not abdicating all responsibility to the clergy. It is possible for an elected PCC to be a waste of time but that is very unusual.
    And they are utterly unlike Druids. 🙂
    I have no experience of secular Parish Councils.

  13. The Meissen Bison

    john77: I have no experience of secular Parish Councils.

    Lucky you. I have no experience of druids on the other hand.

  14. Candidly, we have too many politicians in this country and it’s time we humanely hunted them with dogs.

    Side benefit: You could still use the Oscar Wilde quote “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable” without any modification.

  15. “This sounds like a holdover from the EU’s now defunct plans to destroy the traditional nations of Europe by creating arbitrary regional EU satrapies. One of the few bright moments under New Labour was when Fat Bastard Prescott was told by voters to stuff ZaNu’s planned region in the North-East (an EU warm-up exercise).”

    I think Labour’s pushing of regional assemblies was more in terms of being able to lord it over as much territory as possible, even when out of power in Westminster. I’m sure if it had been a success in the North East, then it’d have been expanded to the North West, and then throughout the Labour strongholds, jerrymandered to take in a few traditionally Tory areas in each “region” in such a way that the tories would be electorally insignificant, until just the South of England was left without an assembly and with direct rule from Westminster only.

  16. j77

    Dunno if you were being sarcastic but 95% confident that TIS was talking about Police and Crime Commissioners…

  17. Yes, local level there have been some great politicians, hard working men and women who struggle with big problems. Never enough money in the budget for all the issues and all the solutions.

    And some right gits out to milk the system for all they are worth. Can be of the same party as the other ones.

    Have sat on boards deciding between candidates for an election – the quality of candidates at a local level was high.
    Just then the voters in the area then elect someone who perhaps isn’t as good, hasn’t anything like the same experience – but belongs to a party the voters believe will give them something.

    Give regions more power and less national interference and there should be plenty of decent candidates to go around.

  18. Have there been many cabinet ministers who made their reputations in local government? Boris? ‘erbert Morrison? Joseph Chamberlain?

  19. @ My Burning Ears
    That never occurred to me. I am so accustomed to people confusing Parish Councils with Parochial Church Councils that I simply assumed TIS had done so. Many people *still* think the PCC should run their village – in my previous parish there was a very active Community Association and I heard several non-churchgoers express the opinion that there ought to be a representative of the (Parish) church on the committee.

  20. I think this is a valid observation Tim. But the important question is whether the scarce talent is because good people don’t get involved, or because good people are somehow selected against by the party system?

    I.e. What characteristics got the thornberrys, abbotts and corbyns selected as MPs in the first place? I struggle to believe that there aren’t more normal, capable people even sitting in their own constituency associations.

  21. Taking Tim’s argument, that there are insufficient talented people in Westminster and that this limited array of talent should not be dispersed round the region’s to its logical conclusion- the available talent should be concentrated in Brussels there to rule us wisely. Or to take it a step further, concentrated in the UN.
    Personally I prefer the opposite argument, that our rulers be as accessable to the people as possible, so that the people can put them right.
    Of course regions in Britain are too large for that, buy more power to counties and districts I say.

  22. Bloke in North Dorset

    Thinking about it a bit more, with national politics the central party has a lot of control and tends to put the party leadership favourites in to the safest seats. Those favourites tending to be the ones who’ve gone up through the central party ranks.

    With local politics it tends to be those who work hard within the local party and gain respect as working hard work for the benefit of the local community.

  23. In the realm of music, do you believe that the current crop of ‘stars’ are the best the world has to offer?

    I don’t. I suspect the “best guitarist in the world” (stupid binary notion, but anyway) is probably some bloke who plays in the pub at the weekend, and has a normal job and a normal life.

    Same with politics. I was speaking to a local politician this weekend who agreed that the higher you go, the less you are likely to actually see any of your efforts be translated into real changes “on the ground”.

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