Devolving power – to people or to local governments?

Devolving power is often a good idea. I think it is best done by devolving more power to individuals, families, charities and companies to make their own decisions. It is a good idea to leave them enough of their own money to spend so more can be self reliant. I regard lower taxes, greater prosperity, and more jobs as policies which empower people and devolve power from government of all levels. Often the best way to implement true devolution is to abolish governing quangoes and layers of government. Conservative abolition of regional government in England was just such an excellent move. In successive votes people in various parts of England had made clear their hostility to extra government at regional level.

Many in politics think devolution of power is about shuffling power down from higher authorities to lower or more local authorities, but still keeping it with government. Quite often this policy ends up taking more power away from people and business, and giving more power to government in total. It can lead to higher tax rates, more public spending, larger bureaucracies, more elected officials, more laws, more regulations and more public projects restricting the individual. It is all too easy for a new regional or local government to wish to tax spend and regulate by more than the national government sheds when power passes. Often indeed no power does pass, but local and regional is granted new and additional powers to tax and regulate people on top of existing government demands and decisions.

So what are we to make of this government’s devolution proposals? They have promised us English votes for English issues, which would be a welcome shift in who makes decisions. This does not mean more laws and spending as these decisions are already being made by the Union Parliament. They are encouraging clusters of local authorities to form new more powerful devolved local government, sometimes with elected Mayors. We will need to see if these locally driven schemes pass my true devolution test. Do they reduce central power by enough to ensure people do not end up more highly taxed and regulated? There will be substantial differentiation of these schemes depending on local wishes.

Some object to the development of more of a postcode lottery in our local government arrangements, as different parts of England want different answers. Surely postcode lottery is proof that local decision making has a more important place? If all local areas wanted the same structure and the same policies what would be the point of local decision making? Labour argues a contradictory position. They say they want more local devolution than the government (or indeed than their last government) offers, yet they also say they want a one size fits all solution! That would need to be imposed from above, the very opposite of true devolution.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

42 Comments

  1. Posted October 16, 2015 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Indeed devolving power (so it is as close to the coal face as possible) would be a very good plan indeed. But Osborne even thinks he is the best person to decided wage levels in companies. Companies he has never even visited and knows nothing about. This government think they should, almost completely, monopolise education and health and very much else on a virtual command economy & hugely over regulated basis.

    Cameron’s government even seem to think the EU should decided who can immigrate to the UK, who should get benefits, should decided UK energy policy, environmental policy, control working hours, regulate health and safety, devise banking regulations, decided what we can subsidise, decide on farming policy, some tax levels and countless other things.

    This is not devolution of power it is largely the complete opposite. Cameron and Osborne are nearly always (in their actions anyway) in favour of higher taxes and more and more central control of virtually everything.

    If they are serious start by selling off the schools and issuing education vouchers to parents it they are serious. Do something similar for the command economy NHS. They are not remotely serious they say one thing and do the complete opposite.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      John, if the Regions have been burned why is the National Lottery telling us through its adverts on ITV how it has been divvying out its Money on an EUSSR Regional bases and not as and where it was needed.
      EVEL seems to have been kicked into the long grass so your dear Leader does not upset and show any sign of disloyalty to his Blood Brothers. The English should rename themselves the FAKAAWEE People because the Ultra Unionists continue to kick them into the long grass at every opportunity in order to keep their Empire together.

      Reply We will be debating and voting on English votes on Thursday!

  2. Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    The best example I can think of that best demonstrates true democracy is a free market. In a free market every citizen has a vote and that is exercised either through their wallets or their feet. It comes down to choice of the individual on whether to buy or not to participate in that market or not. Governments on the other hand do not give us that freedom of action as they decide for us by taking money out of our wallets by force if necessary and they decide how that money will be spent.

    Certainly we have some control over governments through the ballot box but ultimately it is not the individual but the state who has control and the freedom of action and take actions that many individuals would not take for themselves or disapprove of.

    Obviously governments cannot be run like a market place that would lead to chaos and lawlessness. However governments do much that could be be transferred from what is now bureaucratically controlled markets where citizens have no choice to free markets where they do. Governments only have one function and that is as guardians to ensure the safety and security of their citizens.

    Over time governments have acquired more and more roles that they had no right to have unfortunately with full acquiescence of their citizens. It is time to reverse that and perhaps devolution is a step in the right direct in achieving that. Immediately all that is being achieved is that representative dictatorship for that is what our current political system is is being transferred from a central body to a myriad of smaller bodies. At least that way a small amount of localism is being introduced and an element of competition.

    It will then be up to the people to learn from being closer by localism to decision making and to compare by observing the competition between government bodies the worst and best practices. Hopefully this experience eventually (it will be a slow process) will make them take back for themselves by divesting governments of things that they should not be doing and only have governments that perform well in keeping them secure and safe and do so in their best interests.

  3. Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Rather than devolving power, I would suggest many of us probably believe that we have far too many organisations that have power over our lives and the way we live.

    It would seem to me that many local authorities are now little more than a local arm of the National Welfare State and Government, involved in the giving and receiving of money in the form of grants, benefits, credits, subsidies, etc, etc.

    If I go back 50 years I cannot remember local councils being involved in the local community lives of people like they are today.

    Yes they were responsible for clearing ditches, clearing out drains, resurfacing of roads, lopping of trees, maintaining Parks, sweeping the streets and collecting refuse.

    Indeed they even built and maintained their own Council housing estates, but then they also had their own labour force, which gave them the flexibility to deal with problems as they occurred, like the clearing of snow from footpaths and roads etc.

    Perhaps my memory is fading, but then everything seemed to work as it was all done to a sensible set annual, bi annual programme.

    The local residents, they looked after themselves.

    I wonder how many pen pushers/desk bound staff the local council had 50 years ago, compared with now. ?

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Alan,

      No doubt what you say is true. However, if I remember rightly, when I was growing up in the 70s, there was a controllable population, most people had jobs, there weren’t ghettos, there was no uncontrolled migration, the welfare state was a last resort, there weren’t housing crises or lack of school places etc. It seems that the huge influx of migrants has rendered central govt incapable of governing outside of Westminster. And of course we didn’t need whole armies of people whose job is to check health and safety on every blade of grass because there was no ‘blame and claim’ culture.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      “I wonder how many pen pushers/desk bound staff the local council had 50 years ago, compared with now. ?”

      I know our local city council has seventy five people in the ‘Human Resources’ dept for a start. Of course, in the bad old days they didn’t have to wrestle with the special needs of various categories as mostly people were English who read and wrote and spoke it, ate any food which was wholesome and went to church on Sundays.

      Devolution is a chimera as local government is almost entirely hidebound by laws emanating from central government, which in its turn is dancing to a tune broadcast from Brussels, resulting in councillors having to wade through reams of regulations to establish what decision-making freedom they have on any particular issue and for local government officers to copiously brief them. No wonder good quality councillors are sometimes thin on the ground.

      All part of government on the hoof seeking nothing more than ephemeral approbation whilst creating nothing but administrative anomalies and unnecessary expense. Pointless diversion from CMD’s making it up as he goes along renegotiation which is now becoming an embarassment for the government.

      • Posted October 17, 2015 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        Much truth in all that.

        We pay more and more in taxes every year yet receive less and less of any real value by way of public services (of any value to the public) every year.

  4. Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I agree with the principles you set out about devolving power to people and not to other layers of elected or quango government. The very use of the term “powerhouse” appears not to fit well with these principles. The test, I suppose, will rest on whether these new “powerhouses” merely replace what central government does and does not add to or embellish what already exists.

  5. Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Agreed.

    Regions of any form imposed (or induced, pressured, bribed or what ever) by central government is a bad idea in principle and practice. Even if, for the sake of argument, it is accepted that some good does come of it, it is still bad as some regions are looked on favourably by central government to be recipients of their bounty while others are ignored. Central government is supposed to be government for the benefit of us all.

    Further, it is already the case in principle and practise that local authorities can come together of their own accord to take a joint approach on those issue where their combined approach will work best.

    And there still remains the conflict within local government as to their role as a local decision making power and the local agents of central power. Central government must correct this.

  6. Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    All this is bluster to divert the attention of the people of England from the one simple fact: England does not exist in the collective minds of most of those occupying a seat in the houses of Commons and Lords.
    Scotland is recognised and now has it’s own Parliament. Wales and N.Ireland are recognised and have their own Assemblies.
    England is at best ignored, at worst chopped up into imaginary regions by the EU driven desire to rid the planet of a country called England.
    Cameron blustered on the steps of Downing St about English votes for English issues. What happened to that? As expected it got kicked into the long grass and has never been heard of since.
    England deserves exactly the same recognition and level of Democracy given to the three other countries of this laughingly named Union.
    An English Parliament.

  7. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    JR: “Many in politics think devolution of power is about shuffling power down from higher authorities to lower or more local authorities, but still keeping it with government.”
    That most certainly seems to be Osborne’s attitude. We have had a mayor foisted on us whether we wanted one or not. In Greater Manchester one has been appointed (a former Labour MP) on an interim basis prior to elections at a future date. Not only is this move a plan to devolve power to an individual its very conception was done by Osborne with the leaders of 10, mainly Labour, councils. The public’s opinion was not sought nor were councillors involved until the scheme had been agreed between Osborne and the council leaders. Councillors were then invited to endorse the fait accompli. The public has been studiously ignored.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Osborne is not the sort to devolve power closer to the people, whatever he might say. He is someone who can only be judged on his actual actions. He even wanted to deny the voters any referendum on the EU I understand.

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      ” The public has been studiously ignored.”

      @Mr Redwood – Why is your govt ignoring the public?

      • Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Well there is no general election for 4+ years, the public are always largely ignored (but still lied to) between elections.

  8. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    While accepting that there are things best done collectively or by chosen government, I have a preference for devolving power to individuals. I would add that devolving power to government should not be an all or nothing situation. I see government as there to prevent the excesses in corporate or administrative power when dealing with the individual. I would add the comment that to date, government has been very weak in this area of responsibility, witness the pay day loan companies, the ambulance chasing compensation culture, banking and pensions. Corporations are allowed to get far too close to government in the lobbies and the post political job market. It would be better if politicians started by having successful careers before politics rather than looking on politics as a step to a rewarding career.

    Where people have an approaching 100% choice in their life decisions, the end result, in terms of what they get is usually infinitely better than anything government has a hand in. Compare supermarkets or any successful retail outlet with education, NHS, roads, or getting your rubbish collected. Retail outlets that fail go out of business. Government failed services just drag from failure to even greater failure, accompanied by that end line statement that “Lessons have been learnt”.

    So much that government does is driven by politics not by the aim of success through customer satisfaction. Take education as an example. 7% of pupils go to fee paying public schools gaining 95% of the best results in examinations, university places and have successful careers as a result. The answer to this for the remaining 93% of pupils is not to be found in party politics that has, for the past sixty years, created the problem. If you want to start a successful supermarket chain you first look at supermarkets worldwide that work. There is the basic construct for your new business. Good public schools are the basic construct for education in the UK but politicians cannot see it for the cloud of dogma surrounding politics. We would benefit from much being removed from the party political arena, and being judged by results rather than whether it fits into the political philosophy of either Cameron or Corbyn. Local devolved government would be the best place to begin the removal of politics, so that the customer population got the best services available.

    Out of interest what has happened to the resolution of the East Lothian question. Is it now yesterday’s chip paper lying in the long grass beside the road to nowhere.

  9. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I have little faith in Local Government.
    You only have to look at the salaries that the top staff pay themselves – far more for looking after just a county that a similar government official gets for looking after the country. We will have a system similar to the NHS which is totally unaccountable; where they pay huge salaries to get “the best” and huge redundancy pay-offs to staff only to see them move to the next county and take up a similar job. The days of the District Auditor are long gone and it is difficult to question any expenditure.
    A friend served on a District Council for one term and gave up. On various issues he and some colleagues could make no impact on local officialdom; there was always a host of reasons for not doing what was wanted.
    No, I prefer the status quo unless there is some real improvement in accountability.

  10. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    “as different parts of England want different answers.”

    Want? Who wants? When put to the people in referendums it was clear the English people didn’t want elected Mayors. The devolution being foisted on England is a top down project , where people get mayors whether they want them or not, because the British establishment want to balkanise England, and because local dignitaries are flattered at the thought of being a petty fogging dictator over their Mayoral fiefdom.

    If the British establishment were going to reflect the will of the English people in regards to devolution, then we would already have an English Parliament.

  11. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Cameron did indeed promise English votes for English laws but didn’t waste any time in ratting on his promise. What is now on offer instead is English vetoes for English laws, not the same thing at all. It’s still an insult, just a bigger one. It will do nothing to stop Scots, Welsh & NI MPs continuing to vote on and interfere in English only matters. It will not allow MPs squatting in English seats to propose any legislation for England, only to have a final veto on what is proposed by a UK Government, so what is the point of it? And it will certainly do nothing to stop the Scots and the Welsh, who have their own governments, determining who governs England in the future and possibly foisting a Corbyn Labour Government or worse a Labour/SNP coalition on us against our will. It’s a slap in the face John to the people of England who deserve no less than what the rest of this dis-UK have now had for 16 years – i.e. it’s own self determining legislature for all of England, not competing bits of it. Your party’s devolution to cities and local government is balkanisation by stealth, nothing less and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    It should be for the people of England to decide what form of devolution they wish, not 650 self serving UK MPs to decide amongst themselves. UK Governments have done Scotland and Wales the courtesy of offering them numerous referenda on their governance and yet still refuse to ask England just once, despite poll after poll suggesting England too would like what the rest of the dis UK already enjoys, i.e. an English Parliament. Just what are you all afraid of John? Silly question, I suppose. Of course an English Parliament would mean an end to the careers of the majority of UK MPs. Well good riddance to them. They have sat on their backsides and done absolutely nothing to demand fairness for England. Not a whimper when only our kids were the only ones being clobbered with £9,000 tuition fees, nothing that only our sick pay for prescriptions and hospital parking or that only our elderly pay for their personal care. Nothing from them demanding England gets equal funding with the rest of the dis-UK and shamefully it seems they would rather stick pins in their eyes than say the word England when they know full well they are only talking about England when it comes to most matters. Are new MPs primed John? “Don’t mention the word England, ever, whatever you do.”

    The most stupid thing in all of this is the Tories, who would not exist if it were not for England, have everything to gain if they demanded equality for England and yet they continue to treat us with the same contempt as the other anti-English parties. They make me sick.

  12. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I am not all together sure about devolution. Certain areas have different ethics according to their lifestyles . When many are either under the influence of their religion, their materialistic views on life, their educational backgrounds etc there is an accumulation of type. The lynch mob effect for the bullies of these groups could prove to be dangerous. The power seekers with the intention of gaining purely the power for themselves would revel in a chance to extend their own prestige. I have seen it and local mafia- like mobs do have an impact.

  13. Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    It sounds attractive – devolving power so local representatives of the people make the decisions and spend the budget.

    Then – you realise this means local government getting bigger. And if there is one branch of government that is over-staffed, overpaid and underworked – it is local government. I know, my wife used to work in it.

  14. Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    You are correct John. Services should be different in different parts of the country due to different age demographics, rural versus urban balance, and so on, but it should be driven primarily by individual citizen choice rather than as it is as the moment (and more so under the Chancellors plans) due to dictat of local mandarins.
    The NHS is a classic case in point. Many simple examples. In some parts of the country when blood samples are needed the GP takes the blood themselves there and then, or gets the practise nurse to do it. In other parts of the country you are given a slip to take to the local hospital to have your blood sample taken (where an army of phlebotomists deal with all the blood samples for the area). It does not take a genius to work out that having the entire areas sick population descending into the central area of the major hospital to have their blood taken is a recipe for spreading germs, and exactly what should not happen for infection control reasons. But once GP’s have been told they are too important to take samples, and once phlebotomists have been hired (when there is a natural reluctance to make them redundant), the chances of this area of the NHS moving to the other way of doing it are none existent. No consideration for the fact the patients have to take another half day off work to visit a phlebotomist either.
    Or insulin dependent diabetics are supposed to be entitled to an insulin pump if they meet NICE criteria. Yet we have some regions giving approx. 0.2 % of such patients pumps, and others giving approx. 40 % pumps. And the very same patient if they move geographically within the country with exactly the same symptoms can find they suddenly become entitled to a pump having begged for one for years in their previous area. Indeed we have some large parts of the country where we have large numbers of Consultants in Endocrinology/Diabetes who openly acknowledge they know nothing at all about pumps, in one large county there is only one consultant with any pump skills who is totally overwhelmed while his colleagues are tolerated not knowing anything about pumps. Indeed this is one area where educated patients or the better GP’s are significantly improving their long term survival prospects by demanding “out of area” referral (and long may that continue), which is at the mercy of the clinical commissioning group approving – but it’s amazing the numbers of patients who definitely meet NICE guidelines according to one set of consultants who did not according to previous lot. So the peer review of the consultants decisions on meeting NICE criteria is not there, and in some areas the consultants are clearly pressured by the NHS to keep the numbers on pumps low as a short sighted cost saving attempt.
    Or let’s take a young adult patient in a GP office for an unrelated matter discovered to have an extreme high blood pressure. Let’s remember here the primary symptom of concern is that blood pressure which is easily measured and not subject to any great thought processes. The blood pressure numbers which will trigger an immediate admission to hospital for urgent diagnosis of the underlying cause is published amongst GP’s in each area and those numbers are radically different in different parts of the country, not just a little different massively different. So the patient if being seen by a GP away from the home area can find themselves admitted to hospital where a lot of worthy consultants spend great energy looking at them to return home to their local GP to be told in their area that symptom is regarded as minor and looked after in primary care. A ridiculous set of affairs. And there is no scientific review of which approach is producing the better or more cost efficient outcomes.
    Or take superficially simple stuff like verruca treatment. Some clinical commissioning groups have taken the stance that all treatment is to be done in primary care, and there is no funding for secondary care to look at these. In other areas they are choosing to do more of the work in specialist teams in secondary care, more specialism allowing folk to get better at dealing with them (and indeed proper dermatologists involved). So the same patient in some areas is being seen by a consultant, in others a GP is treating them on their own (or worse being palmed off for a nurse to deal). Many patients it won’t make a lot of difference as the various treatments can bring good results easily. However with say diabetic patients (where numbers of limb amputations vary wildly around the country too) where a long term open wound and infection risk brings a real amputation risk is it really right that primary care is being allowed to try and fail to treat verrucas for multiple years? Without any peer review of their care, or ever being told they have tried long enough it’s time to pass to secondary care? Or in some areas the GP’s know they have tried too long and it should be passed to secondary care but there is simply no funding from the CCG to look at such cases. Indeed some GP’s have been told in no uncertain terms by out of area consultants that they have tried and failed to resolve for far too long and they should refer to secondary care! only to do that and local secondary care to turn around as say “sorry it’s not funded”, so even when accidental 3rd party peer review spots a problem nothing can happen to fix it.
    Or take serious stuff like prostate cancer prevention and cure. In Australia men get the PSA test far more routinely at regular GP check-ups than they do here. Reasonable numbers are referred for further investigation. Far more prostates are removed early than they are here. Far more of other advanced treatment like Brachytherapy are done (again we tolerate consultants without the skills here etc.). Nothing the CCG’s are ever likely to do will move us to the Australian improvements in care, it would only come from empowered patients. Here people even if accidentally diagnosed early are often left to die slowly and painfully with nothing but morphine from this supposed “envy of the world”.
    So really the model of giving local mandarins devolved power, in the case of the NHS the CCG or PCT before them, or whatever it is the Chancellor is putting in place in Manchester, is not delivering targeted optimised care. That can only come from empowered patients able to take their business where they want. It is real power in citizens hands that would bring real service improvements, but it demands a change of heart that the public sector just doesn’t get no matter how much its failures (examples above) are staring them in the face.

    • Posted October 18, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      You are so undermining it is rude. Many of the Practices Nurses and Nurse Practitioners are far more experienced and qualified to carry out procedures and diagnosis than Doctors . I myself have been highly trained and continually updated for 40 years…this is a profession.. and cannot begin to talk about the dross some doctors and managers come up. We have brilliant doctors and GP’S , we have brilliant general practice nurses and practitioners but trying to put down those of us who use daily expertise isn’t going to you anywhere. I personally take my own bloods , decide which bloods are relevant investigations as does the doctor. We do not think we are too important to do it and are glad when anyone can help us carry out this important skill which many consultants cannot do.
      NICE guidelines are guidelines not law. We have leeway.
      I do yearly PSA checks
      I attended a lecture by a Nurse at a conference in Manchester. He exploded the myth that only very smart highly paid Doctors are the ones who should lead. We should continue with insulin pumps and updated versions of them, controlled by those with knowledge , not titles. It costs £2,500 to keep one patient one night in a hospital bed due to a hypoglycaemic attack. Compare that.
      Come down from your wooden high horse.

      • Posted October 18, 2015 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        You are missing the point, well actually you are missing quite a lot of points.
        Firstly the different regional approaches to care in the English NHS demonstrate that there is already some “Devolving of power” within the NHS (as an example of a public service in response to Johns post). Examples include:
        1 the blood pressure which on its own will result in you being admitted to hospital there and then for investigation
        2 interpretation of NICE guidelines on insulin pump use
        3 whether verruca’s are dealt with in primary care only or whether podiatrist and dermatologists will do work on these in secondary care. Especially an issue for complex or long running issues, especially in those with enhanced amputation risk.
        4 whether bloods are routinely done at point of request or farmed out to phlebotomists centrally.
        In none of these cases are the differences the result of differing patient needs or choice, they are all inventions and fashions of local mandarins. They are not even subject to any rational scientific analysis of which is producing the best outcomes or overall cost effectiveness.
        If there was any patient choice, or competition between GP’s, do you really think GP’s who force patients to take another half day off work to queue for a blood test would still be in business? Of course not but it’s imposed on the region by the regional NHS (mainly the CCG).
        Devolved power should be devolved to improve the citizen service and that is best done by giving the citizens as much power as possible, not moving the power from central government to local mandarins.
        So what I was trying to say to Johns post was that yes regional differences should exist but only in response to different citizen choices, not allowing lots of local mandarins to play with people’s lives.
        For what it’s worth I think NICE guidelines should be enforceable by law, and that the people who decide whether you meet those guidelines should not be employed by or under pressure from the people who face having to manage the financial consequences of that decision. Your rights in the NHS should be enforceable like a medical insurance contract, with clearly laid out what you get out in what circumstances and not the random haphazard luck of the draw we get now. As far as pumps go there is no discretion once a consultant has said you meet the criteria, the problem being that the consultants are being nobbled and heavily manipulated by their employers very much to the detriment of their patients.
        I have friends in the nursing and medical world. I have a lot of respect for senior nurses, especially in fields like psychiatry where they are often keeping the show on the road in the way high profile patients like Alastair Campbell don’t understand (he would never have had the consultant attention from the NHS if he himself had not been so high profile). Another problem with the NHS is that it has become very much a different service according to your status and not your need.
        I agree there are dross docs and managers, same some dross nurses. Indeed in specialized areas like diabetic care the educated patients can often give their medical team a run for their money on knowledge. All the more reason to have proper peer review, and samples of patients being looked at externally and not a mass of patients left for one GP to treat for years on end etc.
        You don’t have that much leeway, the leeway has been given to the CCG and the mandarins. CCG’s were supposed to empower GP choice but they have done nothing of the kind.
        Where is the peer review of the areas giving hardly any insulin pumps etc? What is your nirvana system going to do to optimize things?
        Give the patients real rights and entitlements which can be enforced. Give the patients real choice of providers. And take away choice from local mandarins who should be diverted to meeting the buying choices of patients.
        As for dumbing down there is no getting away from the fact we have nurses doing docs jobs, and junior docs doing consultants jobs, and so on for no other reason that attempts to cost save. We should have people doing diagnosis having done medicine and not nursing at college. To plan anything else is just plain money saving attempts. You can bet your bottom dollar if the PM is taken ill he will not be diagnosed in an out of hours clinic by a nurse like many of us would be.
        The mark of a true professional is to know when you are out of your depth and need to pass the case onto someone else, GP’s or practice nurses failing to cure verruca’s after years of attempts are an easy example of where the NHS itself is stopping good professional escalation. And worse there is no random sampling of the work being done like this, it’s all completely free of any external peer review.
        Sorry you think I am rude, in the circumstances that the NHS has killed several of my family, and let us down repeatedly I think I am being rather moderate in the way I express things.

  15. Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Here in the East Midlands we are being pressurised into having a super mayor and having devolved power. Again there has been no input from the public just foisted on us from above.
    It smells very much of the EU regional policy and is being actively promoted by all 3 parties.

  16. Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The possible future Mayor of Manchester has already been determined as is well-known without any vote by the public.

    If Sheffield becomes a hub for Mr Osborne’s imposed agenda local informants say the Mayor has already been chosen and they have named that person.

    Of course Mr Osborne’s Devolution has nothing to do with democracy.

    Make it the rule and the law that a Mayor must have at least NOT 55% of votes cast for ALL candidates but at least 55% of all those eligible to vote. You will then see how much democracy is involved in this Devolution idea and also how not one candidate manages to get into office.
    Make the election of local Councillors also depend on obtaining 55% of the votes of ALL ELIGIBLE VOTERS . If insufficient votes are cast then Central Government must run the resulting Council until the local electorate are sufficiently motivated and their belief in what now laughingly passes as democracy in our Country is restored.

  17. Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    A very good post this morning ; I support everything mentioned . In business I learnt one effective lesson – no matter how good the leadership is and the forward planning , it fails if there is ineffective first line supervision . Delegating responsibility ultimately comes down to what happens on the shop floor and , if direction and control is lost , results suffer .

    Disseminating power from Central to Local Government has merit ; it also has a serious flaw and that is the effect of “local graft”. Local Government skill level and its integrity leaves a lot to be desired and I do not have a great deal of faith in how many of its policies are front line implemented .This shortfall has to be addressed and the system of supervision put in place first before the delegation occurs .

  18. Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I sincerely hope that the government will avoid foisting elected mayors on communities. The idea was tried under Labour, and was rejected. Elected mayors might work in the USA and in parts of Europe, but they have no part in our traditions of local government.

  19. Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    A great many of the old urban and rural district councils were excellent and quite efficient. There were some that were not. Instead of dealing with the odd wrong ‘uns it became politically correct to reorganise it all on a far more centralised basis.

  20. Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Very eloquently put and I agree fully with your view. Do you know how effective Carswell’s and Hannan’s The Plan relates to your view?

  21. Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Devolving power to OFGEM and the DECC certainly seems to have been a big failure. Looking at the detailed figuring behind the National Grid Winter Outlook assumptions shows they are assuming 22% of wind capacity (some 11.9GW total capacity) will always be available, along with assumptions that the French and Dutch interconnectors will supply between 0.5GW and 3GW.

    http://www2.nationalgrid.com/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=43310&utm_source=WOHome&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=WO2015

    Throughout most of the past fortnight we have seen the French Interconnector oscillate between supplying us half the normal 2GW, and the UK supplying France with 1GW (as it is as I write). Moreover, with nearly 7GW of coal capacity due to close by March, should any of that capacity suffer a problem before then it will close early.

    Forecasters are suggesting we might even have a 1 in 50 winter – yet the forecast is based on just a 1 in 25 winter on the demand side. It is no surprise that finally Mr Cameron seems to be waking up to the very real threat of blackouts this winter, and at the very least cutbacks of industrial production and reliance on high emissions diesel generators from STOR. However, it’s too late to do anything about it, except to plan for the contributionn from emergency services should widespread and lengthy blackouts occur in cold winter conditions.

    Many of us have been warning about the complacent attitudes at DECC for a long time.

  22. Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    It seems to be coming clear that England is being run by an elitist clique with an internationalist agenda. Regional ‘powerhouses’ are the latest nonsense to come out of Downing Street, cooked up by slick talking politicians with a Scottish and Irish aristocratic background. They even have a plan to waste even more money on a ridiculous 250mph train between the largest cities in Lancashire and Yorkshire. What are the citizens supposed to do- commute between Leeds to Manchester and vice versa? What would be more helpful would be road freight improvements between these areas to customers in other areas of England. While the new unelected Labour mayor has already decided that Mancunians should scrap their diesel cars. One wonders what other hare brained expensive ideas these mayors will come up with.

    While the Powerhouse is progressing, with a new minister who did not attend the debate in the HoC about closing steelworks, the employees are trying to get help to arrange a takeover and save this valuable works. But the ministers are only interested in offering redundancy packages. Why? Because EU rules prevent subsidies and the carbon taxes and energy policy makes it too expensive to compete with other countries with lower costs.

    Other countries have their elite too. When we wonder why Germany has invited in millions of economic migrants, without asking the Germans, we have only to google Deutchebank/migrants to read that this bank thinks it will be just the right thing for their country. The Irish UN refugee chief, Mr Sutherland, thinks they are of economic benefit too and should automatically be accepted. By the way he was with Goldman Sachs, who also like migration.

    While in the UK, we now have Sajid Javid promoted to Business minister. Sajid went to Exeter university to learn economics and politics, then had a big job in banking in New York and then with Deutchebank, where he was in charge of loans for emerging markets. Unfortunately, they managed to lose an incredibly large amount and had to explain that it was because of an economic crisis. He then decided to go into a job which involved the other part of his degree. Sajid is now well in with Gideon, who must value his experience in business, having had to deal with an academic before and having no experience of his own. (re Wiki)

    No wonder the Powerhouse has lost a coal power station, cancelled a daft CCS project and closed a steelworks, with others tottering on the edge,in its first few months. While the coal stations converting to burning American trees at three times the cost are being exposed as saving little CO2 and may run out of trees. And all of this is because of legislation passed by these elite politicians, who do whatever the EU and UN tells them to.

  23. Posted October 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Labour’s devolution plans have truly created an unholy mess. I agree that there is no “one size fits all” solution, but this is becoming so messy it’s unbelievable.

    In theory the devolution of responsibilities to “mayoral” super-constituencies seems ok, but only if the whole of England gets essentially the same. In practice, though, lack of competence may indeed lead to greater taxation and waste at local level. I hope not, but it seems inevitable.

    More importantly, though, what has happened to EVEL? Not that that is my favoured solution for fairness for England, but it would be a start. It seems to have totally disappeared from any agenda, along with the Bill of Rights, and no doubt various other election manifesto items.

  24. Posted October 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    John, I have to say I’m very suspicious about all this “Northern Powerhouse” stuff which seems to require an ‘elected Mayor’.

    I don’t think I’ve heard Osborne (whose wheeze this is) exactly explain WHY an elected Mayor is neccessary.

  25. Posted October 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree John and its therefore a real shame and also very damaging to local economies that this Conservative government has allowed organisations such as SEEDA to be replaced by LEPs. In my area the so called Local Enterprise Partnership is NONE of those things its not local it incorporates Kent Essex and Surrey ! Its not enterprise its the County Councils , unitary authorities and Police services, very little enterprise. Oh but it has got a budget of £70 million. Then we have the absolute disgraceful Business Improvement Districts, non elected tax raising private companies with no control or guidelines and no set achievement targets and absolutely no way of getting rid of them when they seriously unperform. Our local BID just provide totally made up statistics ( they even contradict the Councils stats ) to pretend they are making a difference yet they have put a dozen small retailers out of business.

    There are too many quangoes, unelected private operators and too many levels of government. The taxpayers money saved by scrapping all of this and spending the money on critical local services is what should happen. We do NOT need 3 layers of local government

  26. Posted October 16, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    The Homes ( Human Habitation ) Bill showing on TV LIVE as I write has about 10 MPs strewn liberally irrespective of literal Party affiliation on House of Common benches. Even if Mayors and Powerhouses had any public support whatsoever, ( which they do not ) surely it must be obvious that Local Government, not in front of TV cameras, is going to have even less a proportion of elected members actually turning up for work.

    Better to dismantle the whole of Local Government sending Councillors cross-party who are elected with in some cases a majority of a 15% turnout back home where they can count the money from their most valuable contributions paid to them for “service to the community”. Instead, replace them with a much smaller number of paid professionals.

    Naturally one will hear of an upsurge of revolt about such a measure. However the revolt will be by Ex-Councillors themselves, their families, those coincidentally given jobs who happen to know or are related to Councillors and their families or those who coincidentally got jobs in the Local Authorities by knowing the leading political party members in the area.
    No real revolt by the non-voting silent majority will be at all evident.

    Hopefully, real revolt against non-elected officials will rise anongst a disenfranchised local electorate. OK. Good. Then a trial/pilot scheme can take place to see if Local Councillors can be elected by a turnout of well o0ver 55% of the electorate; if not, continue with non-elected officials until such time opinions change.
    The plus side is that perhaps more well educated paid officials may do a better job if their appointment is in no way dependent on a local committee.

  27. Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I should add that there is now news of the loss of 1,200 jobs at Tata, Scunthorpe – another “win” for DECC’s expensive energy policy.

  28. Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    All this talk of devolution within England is a deceit, a diversion from the need for proper recognition of England as a unity, a nation like any other, but the British/Unionist Establishment are desperate to avoid such talk, they will do everything in their power to ensure the English are prevented from establishing their own unified identity, and thus we have divisive activities and policies.

    They know that if England were to have a true parliament, as is enjoyed by Scotland, it will bring about their end – so England is being denied, again and again. They are more than happy to recognise Scotland and encourage it to develop its own identity, but no such treatment for England.

    Deceit and Hypocrisy go hand in hand.

  29. Posted October 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Ps. I have to say that things have improved markedly in Plymouth since the non-active Labour MP was replaced by Johnny Mercer, and the local quasi-marxist city council became NOC.

    I would like to see a local person elected as a mayor, (or alderman perhaps?) for Devon, Somerset and Cornwall – someone who genuinely understands this part of the world and who can attract the right investment and exploit the dynamics of the West Country. This appears to be the kind of ‘devolution’ Osborne is seeking, but then that would be at odds with the enthusiasm for granting more autonomy to Cornwall, a county/duchy which badly needs English money.

  30. Posted October 16, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    It’s perfectly clear that the leadership ( joke ) of Labour have no interest in devolution for England

    It’s a fact that they are heading for electoral oblivion in Scotland and it’s hard to see how they can come back as a cohesive party with policies that would have any chance of getting them into power at England, even if there was an English Parliament.

    Their only realistic chance of power would now appear to be in running Northern regions of the UK through councils and elected mayors. Even that must be in doubt with their chaotic behaviour and with UKIP ready to take their place.

    Turning to the Conservative party, I suppose it is just about possible that the party could take some of the Mayor appointments in the Northern Powerhouse but that would require a total Labour meltdown and for UKIP to be discredited.

    However, the big prize for the Conservatives would be England if only Cameron can be persuaded to fullfil his promise to implement a proper equal devolution settlement for England rather than his current half-baked and ineffective proposal.

    I’m not hopeful : Cameron’s heart is not in it and he’s listening to the arguments from the discredited Gordon Brown and the Nationalists who are all saying this is unfair to Scotland. How can it be ?

    Looking ahead, I think the most likely outcome of the EU referendum is for England to vote to leave the EU and Scotland to remain in. Hopefully the UK-wide vote would still be in favour of leaving, after which Scotland must be allowed a second referendum on whether to remain within the UK, outside the EU. I suspect the voters of Scotland would still vote for the UK rather than an uncertain future inside the Euro.

    If there was a very small majority in favour of remaining in but only because of Scottish votes, that would be a real dilemma : the tail would really have wagged the dog and it’s hard to see how the UK could hold together in those circumstances.

    Frankly, it would be the worst possible outcome.

  31. Posted October 17, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    “It is a good idea to leave them enough of their own money to spend so more can be self reliant.”
    It’s not just a good idea. Anything else is theft. Tax is theft. It removes money from the person that earned it and allows politically motivated politicians to redistribute to gain votes for themselves. Theft.

  32. Posted October 17, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    “We will be debating and voting on English votes on Thursday”
    This is it then when the English get their own Parliament because surely that is what will be “voted” for.?
    We all know it will be a white wash. Mr Redwood thank you for all your work you have done for England but I am afraid to many of your colleagues will not give a hoot.
    If by any chance it comes good for England I will show my bottom in one of M&S windows.

  33. Posted October 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Catching up.

    On this one I split the world into two:

    Tribal based come “multicultural” as the modern term
    or
    Roman derived countries being societal based

    Tribalism (multiculturalism) isn’t doing very well when we look at the Middle East and Africa where it is still practised.

    Tribalism is your “devolved” power structure “devolution”.

    It breaks up a common belief and connection amongst humans. It is the consideration of others that makes us human. Looking at the tribal ISIS and the many tribes in Africa the consideration of others is lacking completely.

    No body voted for devolution. The Scots the Welsh and the English where never given the opportunity to vote on devolution or to have a discussion on what it meant.

    I do not want devolution.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page