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City devolution, Manchester & 'Northern Powerhouse' - any thoughts?

(25 Posts)
Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 08:48:44

for quite a while now I've droned on about the public sector vs private sector imbalance of the UK economy, but of course there has been (like many other countries) a regional imbalance, usually north-south.

And in theory there should be no good reason for a north-south divide within the UK, as long as the political focus and investment from both government and the private sector can be put into place at the same time.

But clearly if it was that easy, we wouldn’t have heard about ‘the north, south divide’ for decades; so while any new government initiative should be welcomed, personally I’m not so sure.

”Radical' City Devolution Plans To Be Unveiled”

”The Chancellor will be in Greater Manchester later - the first area to be given more powers over spending under a mayor from 2017.”
news.sky.com/story/1483611/radical-city-devolution-plans-to-be-unveiled

”George Osborne is to unveil plans to give English cities an opportunity to elect their own mayor, who would receive greater powers over housing, policing and transport in their areas.”

That is because, rumour has it, I’m anti fat government and have no faith in the abilities of party apparatchiks of questionable abilities to locally spend taxpayers money wisely.

Indeed and I’m sorry if ignorantly stereotyping, while those up ‘t north view soft southerners and Conservative councils as ‘in bed with the private sector’, down here we view Labour Councils as mainly ‘in bed with themselves’ which can be even more taxpayer expensive, both in initiative and money terms for the local economy.

Now I get (like Scotland, England and Wales) devolved powers are in vogue, but is this REALLY a good idea and possibly a way to smooth out the inconsistencies of government/party policies coming from those in Westminster?

claig Thu 14-May-15 09:25:06

I don't like it. It is what the progressives have long advocated. It is part of the globalist trend which will lead to the weakening of nation states and the empowerment of regions, which is what suprnational power structures such as the EU want.

It will create another tier of government and bureaucrats with all the opportunity to grandstand and take on elected governments. Some cities have rejected the proposals to give them mayors and turn out in elections for electing mayors will generally be lower than for national elections and therefore they will not have a large mandate from the population of the cities and regions.

If progressives like it, then it may not be such a good thing.

This is from Matthew Taylor, who worked for Blair in the Number Ten Policy Unit

"As it is looking in to place, so it is looking out to the world. The brilliant public intellectual Benjamin Barber is completing a new book with the compelling title 'if mayors ruled the world'. In it he argues that global networks of city leaders are making change in ways which seem unattainable for international institutions of nation states. Barber links this to the greater legitimacy of local leaders and their more practical problem solving orientation.

This is not a new idea. It is, after all, fifty years since Daniel Bell said something along the lines of 'in the modern world, the nation state will be too big for the small things in life and too small for the big things'. But whether it is Barber, Richard Florida or Edward Glaeser (to name but three) the contrast between the optimism of urban commentators and the pessimism of those who focus on nations and multinational institutions is striking."

www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/matthew-taylor-blog/2012/10/inter-city-thoughts/

And here is the intellectual Benjamin Barber that Matthew Taylor mentions

"Why Mayors Should Rule the World"

The European: You suggest that cities are not only better suited for battling cross-border problems but also allow for a more representative form of democracy. What is wrong with the nation state?

Barber: It’s too big for internal democratic participation and yet too small for our globalized, interdependent world.
...
The European: Do you think that a local sense of belonging will replace the national one?

Barber: Yes I do. Identifying us as nationals of a given state only points to things like a distant national identity, tax collection or possibly military engagements.
...
The European: In Britain, the central government was for a long time afraid of powerful mayors. The popularity of Boris Johnson seems to confirm that notion.

Barber: The same was true for New York’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Three years ago, in a speech he gave at the MIT, he highlighted that he controlled a police force that is larger than certain national armies, that his city had its own relation to the UN and that it even had its own foreign policy. He said: “Washington doesn’t like it, but I don’t really care about that”. It’s understandable that national governments are deeply worried about the power of certain mayors.

The European: Even though the nation states still have instruments to control local politics.

Barber: They do indeed have jurisdictional, legal and financial control over cities and regions. So they can undermine and shape local politics. But that’s a short-term power. In the long run, the city will prevail because it is home to the majority of the population. There will be formations of “urban political parties” that organize around the power of cities, focus on the needs of urban dwellers and will ultimately be able to control national politics and gain more political autonomy for their city.
...
The European: But you still want the state to fulfill certain functions?

Barber: I am a political scientist and I am not so foolish as to think that the nation state will go anywhere. I am merely recognizing the reality of this shift of power towards cities and I believe that it is a good thing – not only for transparency and democracy, but also for global governance

www.theeuropean-magazine.com/benjamin-r-barber/8270-why-mayors-should-rule-the-world

I think the EU will love it because it will help the move towards "global govrenance". No longer will we jut have a metropolitan elite, but eventually global elite.

I think it will end up weakening the UK and creatng tenson between regions and the nation, and I think that will be a bad thing for the nation and the people. Regions will be easier for supranational global governance institutions such as the EU to control than nations and the global elite will be able to carry out global governance more easily.

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 09:49:51

The EU may or may not even be an issue from 2017.

What if (and a big IF), mayors in regional competition with each other for businesses to be located within their own region, keep their own costs lean and keep taxes lower as a result.

What if the economic growth, already widening out from London and the South East brings prosperity to all their citizens.

An argument for NOT narrowing the north-east divide based on the EU's wishes and need to assimilate bureaucrats - and Mayor Boris's popularity (as a character) rather than notoriety as abusing his power - seems voluminous yet weak. IMO

Seffina Thu 14-May-15 09:51:31

I don't agree with big cities with devolved powers, but I would support a revolution to establish a Northern state wink

I do believe some people in the North think that the govt. don't really care about the North, that they don't understand the issues they care about. I remember when the Scottish referendum was in the news, many Northerners were saying "well we don't feel represented by Westminster either"

I don't think a devolved Manchester would benefit anybody apart from those in Manchester.

claig Thu 14-May-15 10:14:20

The problem is that this will lead us on the path to the weakening of the nation and it will not be good for the people. It will benefit the global governance elite and the EU, but not local people and sovereign nations.

'What if (and a big IF), mayors in regional competition with each other for businesses to be located within their own region, keep their own costs lean and keep taxes lower as a result.'

They won't. Remember when Militant Tendency ran Liverpool. Look at Scotland, there is an SNP government and that will in the end raise taxes.

Socialist apparatchiks will stand for mayor etc and they will promise the earth and raise taxes and business will move down south. Regions of the country will be played off against each other and lots of people will be worse off as the unity of the nation is weakened. London will prosper and the metropolitan elite will grow richer while many people in regions will be subject to rule by people they never voted for in a general election.

'Boris Johnson: Government must give London its tax back"

www.ibtimes.co.uk/boris-johnson-london-tax-finance-commission-devolution-467878

And then there is the possibility of mayors challenging the Home Secretary on policing etc

"Water cannon coming to London: Boris Johnson approves controversial crowd control tactic in challenge to Theresa May’s authority"

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-orders-three-water-cannon-for-met-police-9525221.html

I think it will lead to grandstanding, regions competing against each other and a decline in the cohesion and unity of the nation. The global elite will benefit as nations decline in power and sovereignty.

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 10:32:07

Claig ... if you were alive, an adult and following the daily news in the 1970's as I was, those "militant tendencies" in the north are no where near as destructive as they were.

FYI Osborne has already been working with the Council in Manchester for a while now, so I'm assuming both parties think that they can work with, and trust. each other.

As Seffina says, in theory this policy can only benefit those participating, as any regional pooling of investment/resources can only provide 'more bang for the buck' for big projects if costs are shared amongst the large cities - on top of whatever other national infrastructure etc plans/investment that comes out of Westminster.

There are too many 'ifs', but if a city the size of Manchester wants to have a go on a 'suck it and see' basis, if they can't make it work then best the other cities wait and see the results within Manchester.

claig Thu 14-May-15 10:39:33

' those "militant tendencies" in the north are no where near as destructive as they were.'

Not now they aren't. But one day they may come back.

'FYI Osborne has already been working with the Council in Manchester for a while now'

Yes he has been working with the Labour lot. The Labour lot want it because it will give them more power and autonomy.

Manchester rejected the chance to have a mayor. Of course all the bureaucrats, bigwigs and metropolitan elites want it as it will give them more power over the people.

"David Cameron's plans to replace local council cabinets with directly elected mayors have been rejected by voters in nine English cities.

Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Wakefield, Coventry, Leeds and Bradford voted "no" to the idea, championed by ministers."

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17949950

Are they going to put this to the people or has it all been agreed between bureaucrats behind closed doors?

claig Thu 14-May-15 11:33:32

You can see the goal of the progressives in Benjamin Barbour's "Global Parliament of Mayors". This is a progressive paradise, obal governance utopia.

"MISSION STATEMENT

The Global Parliament of Mayors is a new political and civic institution by, for, and of cities: mayors convening to identify and pursue in common the public goods of urban citizens around the world through a new global governance platform deploying collective urban political power that manifests the right of cities to govern themselves, and their responsibility to do so by contributing viable cross-border solutions to global challenges that are also municipal challenges.In an era of interdependence, where nation states have become dysfunctional and cities are everywhere rising, it is time to take the visionary leap from effective local governance to true global governance.

The Global Parliament of Mayors, introduced in Dr Benjamin Barber's recent book, If Mayors Ruled the World, Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities has rapidly generated interest and support from Mayors around the world.

A Global Parliament of Mayors as a keystone in the global arch of civic cooperation and planetary sustainability is not then a discretionary goal. It is rather a concomitant of effective municipal government at home and of planetary survival. If we are to realize both economic and ecological sustainability and live peacefully and justly on an interdependent planet, then we will need to confront the brutal world of disease without borders, war without borders, markets without borders, crime without borders, technology without borders, and climate change without borders with a new civic world we make for ourselves: a world of democracy without borders, citizens without borders, and hope without borders."

www.globalparliamentofmayors.org/

No wonder Farage is not popular with the global governance elite.

"Governments have failed — mayors are the future

The power to effect real change may lie with dynamic city halls rather than ossified national governments
...
As Michael Bloomberg approached the end of his time as Mayor of New York, Americans expected him to run for the White House. He had the money, the profile and the ego to be President. But the problem, as it turned out, was his ambition — he had too much of it to settle for the Oval Office. As he put it: ‘I have my own army, the seventh largest in the world. I have my own state department and I don’t listen to Washington very much.’ His ambition, it turns out, was not to be the next President of the United States. He wants to be Mayor of the World.
...
David Cameron was once enthusiastic about this idea too. In opposition, he had a plan to put mayors everywhere. But of 11 cities asked in a referendum, only Bristol and Doncaster said yes to elected mayors. The policy was half-baked and those behind it felt Whitehall should stay out of it. Nothing scares the British public more than the thought of those in charge imposing more tiers of government."

www.spectator.co.uk/features/9181051/why-the-worlds-most-powerful-politicians-are-no-longer-in-parliaments/

Farage in contrast says give the peopke proportional representation and reduce the tiers of government and unaccountable elites.

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 11:53:25

Jez Claig ... I'm possibly the last person to critic, but can you not summarize your opinion/points and leave links for further reading - rather than post a dollop of 'gloop' with loads of big words to wade through to FIND the point you are making - and even then I'm not sure if I have found it.

claig Thu 14-May-15 11:57:05

No because most people don't want to click and leave the site. That is why I put the key quotes within the post so that those who are interested can see those points.

'and even then I'm not sure if I have found it.'

I'm not surprised. You don't really understand what global governance is all about and why the progressives want this policy.

claig Thu 14-May-15 11:59:23

'rather than post a dollop of 'gloop' with loads of big words to wade through'

But that is the policy you and the progressives support. Big words are used to disguise the intent.

Bragadocia Thu 14-May-15 12:01:50

Northern Powerhouse sounds like a genre of music. I'm spending Saturday night at the Hacienda dancing to Northern Powerhouse.

Sorry to divert from the gravitas of the thread...

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 12:14:18

Claig .. don't be surprised, if we looked at "global governance" every time we looked on moving any power out of Westminster, we'd get no where.

I look at that "MISSION STATEMENT" above you provided and my eyes glaze, so are you saying that Major's are an excuse for Westminster unable to govern, and it that what this quote of yours about;
"Farage in contrast says give the peopke proportional representation and reduce the tiers of government and unaccountable elites."

So if UKIP had their way, if everyone in different regions had their say on matters that may or may not affect them so much by national Referendums every few week - then what is the POINT of a UKIP government never making a 'kin decision, as Farage and other UKIP MP's pocket up to a £100k MP salary?

“UKIP backs direct democracy and use of referendums”
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27973093

“Nigel Farage has said UKIP wants to give people direct democracy - with referendums to decide some policy.”

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 12:22:26

Bragadocia ... under Labour the cunning plan seemed to be hire 1 million more bureaucrats, managers and non jobbers and spray them around the county as sustainable economic 'growf'.

On the "genre of music" theme of yours, what was all that about, 'The Ministry of Sounds'? lol

P.S. lightening a fairly simple subject thread currently confusing the shit-outa-me, was most welcome. Tnx.

claig Thu 14-May-15 12:23:43

The push for mayors is a progressive policy that aims to strengthen regions and helps the process of global governance by reducing the power of nation states which progressives believe are out-of-date in the modernised gloablised world.

'in the modern world, the nation state will be too big for the small things in life and too small for the big things'

This is the progressive view and the polar opposite of Farage's view where power is placed in the hands of people via proportional representation rather than in the hands of global governance elites who operate outside of nations.

"The Global Parliament of Mayors is a new political and civic institution by, for, and of cities: mayors convening to identify and pursue in common the public goods of urban citizens around the world through a new global governance platform deploying collective urban political power that manifests the right of cities to govern themselves, and their responsibility to do so by contributing viable cross-border solutions to global challenges"

The language is progressive and designed to make your eyes glaze over so that you can't see what its implications for the people are.

"plans to replace local council cabinets with directly elected mayors have been rejected by voters in nine English cities"

"Nothing scares the British public more than the thought of those in charge imposing more tiers of government"

TheRealMaryMillington Thu 14-May-15 12:27:19

Divide and rule innit?

claig Thu 14-May-15 12:31:13

I think that is what it will lead to in the long run and the rule will then be supranational (as the nation's sovereignty declines) and will be by a global governance elite, and we won't be able to kick them out or object to their policies just like what happens in the EU now where we aren't even allowed to have control of our own borders or object to some of our vacuum cleaners or lightbulbs being banned.

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 12:36:38

TheRealMaryMillington .... would the "divide and rule" be because it would be a Conservative government offering devolved power or a Tory 'cunning plan' to divide the North?

As if there is little demand, one must wonder why 'the party of the north' with boots on the ground, thought it was a good idea.

Election 2015:Labour manifesto at-a-glance
www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32284159

Democracy

"The party promises to devolve powers from Westminster and lower the voting age to 16. It says it will:"

Establish a "people-led constitutional convention" to look at governance across the UK
Replace the House of Lords with a senate of nations and regions
Devolve £30bn of resources and powers to English cities and counties
Fulfil pledges to devolve further powers to Scotland and Wales
Give more power to local communities to "shape their high street"

claig Thu 14-May-15 12:40:05

'one must wonder why 'the party of the north' with boots on the ground, thought it was a good idea'

Becaue it will give the party, apparatchiks, bigwigs and bureaucrats more power over the people, along with bigger budgets, salaries, expenses and perks, which is precisely why the people rejected it when it was put to the vote.

Now it is back, but without a vote.

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 12:48:00

Claig .... sorry, you went 'all global governance elite and EU' on me again, sounding more like a Putin mouthpiece than a Farage one - rather than speaking to me address the practical 'pros and cons' of giving local authorities more directional spending power, and 'the hand' went on tilt.

Isitmebut Thu 14-May-15 12:54:55

Claig ... "back without a vote", arguably(?) the Conservatives won a general election mandate for their northern policies including the HS2-3-4 rail link, that began during the last parliament.

What is NOT back is all the layers of fat government you and I oppose, that Labour proposed in their 2015 manifesto.

Is the layer Osborne proposed was my key opening point, before you went off around the bleedin' world!

I need tea, lots of it, and a sit down in a dark room after that exchange.

claig Thu 14-May-15 12:55:37

Farage is anti global governance and anti EU, anti supanational governance and pro the independence of the nation state.

This is a progressive policy, just like hugging huskies, and I think it is a mistake. It will eventually lead to regions such as London demanding more power and the ability to keep more of their taxes to the detriment of less prosperous regions of the country.

We have seen what has happened in Scotland when more power was devolved. I think regions of England may be in competition in the future against the wishes of the electorate as expressed in a national general election.

claig Thu 14-May-15 12:59:49

'before you went off around the bleedin' world'

You gave to understand what progressive politics and modernisation is all about in a globalised world.

"The European: What is wrong with the nation state?

Barber: It’s too big for internal democratic participation and yet too small for our globalized, interdependent world."

claig Thu 14-May-15 13:45:32

Interesting Guardian article on how Osborne came to the polic.

"At the turn of 2014, Osborne was a politician under pressure. His party was in deep trouble in the north-west where, in the words of Liverpool’s mayor, Joe Anderson, “Tories are as rare as rocking-horse shit.” It was worsted by Ukip and its MPs were furious at ever more concessions being offered to Scotland, but denied to England. The last straw was the May local and European elections, with the Tories beaten into third place by Ukip and Labour. Osborne needed to do something dramatic, and in his own political backyard.

There now emerged into Osborne’s ken an economist called Jim O’Neill from a bank whose grotesque wealth makes Tory and Labour ministers alike go weak at the knees, Goldman Sachs.

A year earlier, in May 2013, a report on city finance had been commissioned by London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, from a group headed by Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics. It pointed out that just 7% of the taxes paid by Londoners were spent by locally elected bodies. The rest went straight to the Treasury. This “hollowing out” of democracy disempowered local leaders, and was in stark contrast with cities abroad. Londoners, said Travers, should control more of the taxes they paid. Johnson, seen as a political rival to Osborne, trumpeted the report to the skies.

After the Tories lost the May elections, Osborne moved with remarkable speed.
...
Aggressively referencing London’s mayor, Osborne called for a new civic leadership, based not on political parties but on elected mayors. “Every northern city needs a Boris Johnson to fight their corner on the world stage.”

Elected mayors were now central, almost obsessively so, to Osborne’s initiative. He admits he came to them late, but he calls them “my red line”, the crucial link in the chain of local accountability. It is hard not to detect here the influence of Tory elder statesman, Lord Heseltine, parachuted into the Cabinet Office by Cameron and longstanding champion of mayors. Osborne admires, indeed envies, Heseltine’s charisma. Heseltine has convinced him of the value of mayors.

Osborne told his Manchester audience, “Today I am starting the conversation about a serious devolution of powers and budgets” to northern cities. This offer would be open “only to any city that wants to move to a new model of city government – and have an elected mayor”. When Labour HQ called its Manchester leader, Richard Leese, and asked him to bad-mouth Osborne’s speech, he is said to have told them to get lost, with an expletive. The “northern powerhouse” was already looking suspiciously like Manchester."

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/12/secret-negotiations-restore-manchester-greatness

claig Thu 14-May-15 13:55:08

"Yorkshire’s spokesman, Peter Box of Wakefield, was scornful of Leese’s capitulation on mayors. “Such innovations,” he said, “do not suit Yorkshire.” He spoke to Nick Clegg, a Sheffield MP, who promised him “the same devolved powers without having to accept an executive mayor”. Clegg was clearly off Osborne’s message.

Manchester’s rival as second city, Birmingham, was equally put out.
...
Previously the core cities had stood aloof from London, regarding it as a wildcat for having an elected mayor. In November they swallowed their pride
...
Even before the ink was dry on devoManc, Leese went public. “Our ultimate ambition,” he said, “is for full devolution of all public spending in greater Manchester.” That referred to the entire £22bn of state spending within his city region, including health and even welfare. He wanted to decide business rates and stamp duty. He even mooted taking over the NHS region, an act that would sensationally end Bevan’s concept of a “nationalised” health service.

In private Osborne accepts that this is “where the debate goes next. Cities could one day have greater control over raising taxes.”

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/12/secret-negotiations-restore-manchester-greatness

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