Regionalism, devolution and subsidiarity

See here for two explorations of the green ‘take’ on regionalism, devolution and subsidiarity:

Bioregionalism v. Borderline bankruptcy (Irvine)

Devolution and Regional Powerhouses Debate

These issues are becoming more and more critical. Within the rather disunited UK, for example, there are the struggles over the future of Scotland and Wales. Within England there are parallel arguments about the devolution to the regions and a new generation of powerful city bosses (‘mayors’), often presiding over new combined authorities. Then the is the whole ‘Northern Powerhouse’ scheme, very much an inherently flawed attempt to replicate mini-Londons in other parts of the country. There is, of course, widespread and justified resentment of London-centrism.

Outside the UK, there are struggles for regional autonomy if not separation. In  2017 it was Catalonia that, in Europe, provided the focal point but such movements could erup in many places around the world, from Quebec to West Papua. Yet most just look for a different division of the same economic cake and associated lifestyles. Yet ‘business-as-usual’ is simply not sustainable (eg https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/bix125/4605229) We need, then, to look afresh at these matters and tease out a ‘sustainable regionalism’.

Looming over these matters back in Brtain is the push to take the UK out of the EU. In both Brexit and Remain camps, quite obsolete models of governance predominate. Manistream Brexiteers seem to entertain some fantasdy about a new Britannia that once again will rule the waves. Remainers, including some leading Greens such as Caroline Lucas MP and Jean Lambert MEP, have largely abandoned traditional (and valid) criticism and the EU, not least the Single Market customs union and associated free movement of people. Yet the flaws of the EU remain and indeed politicians such as Emmanuel Macron are pushing for even more political centralisation. Again we need to go back to green basic and develop fresh idea.

 

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Northern Powerhouse fallacy

Northern Powerhouse

Not long ago, I was in Manchester. I hadn’t been to the city for a long time. It still has some fine old buildings, mainly inherited from the Victorian era but large parts of Manchester look like some mix of Dallas and Dubai.

All the new development could be seen as a pre-echo of the great Northern Powerhouses chancellor George Osborne says he wants to create. Apparently, he envisages new ‘Londons’ up north. But, as this paper from 2002 shows, London is in state of gross overshoot with, then, a ‘eco footprint’ the size of Spain. Presumably it is significantly worse in 2016:

http://www.citylimitslondon.com/downloads/Introduction.pdf

Osborne et al are right about one thing however. The rail links ‘up north’ are poor. On the TransPenine trains there and back, lots of people had to stand for large parts of the journey, despite having seat bookings. The trains were not just overcrowded but the seat reservation system had broken down while one of the two toilets was out of order on the return journey. Tempers were fraying! It is scarcely any wonder that it is so hard to get people out of their cars.

The solution, however, is not the Osborne one of new high-speed train lines. They are inordinately expensive and destroy large chunks of countryside and indeed some housing. The answer is much simpler: investment in better trains (just an extra carriage would have really helped last weekend) and cheaper fares, plus better signalling systems (which could unlock capacity on some lines thus permitting more frequent trains)

One good thing was travelling Huddersfield (Kirklees council). There was a sudden and indeed dramatic increase in the number of houses with photovoltaic arrays. I wonder why. (Clue: http://www.nef.org.uk/…/kirklees-council-ahead-of-the-energ…).

Some things at the above meeting were a bit frustrating, but the achievements of Andrew Cooper and his colleagues are a stimulating reminder of what can be done, despite all the barriers… if we get properly organised and focused.

CITYLIMITSLONDON.COM