A Broken Constitution


We’re SO all in it together. Professor Sir Peter Hall of University College London, an expert on regional economic policy, had this to say about the figures in George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review:

“Even on capital spending, which Osborne claims to be boosting – actually only after election year 2015, but let that pass – two-thirds of planned spending on regional transport infrastructure is going to London, a staggering 86% to London and the South East, against 6% to the North and just 0.4% to the South West. The same discrepancies appear when spending is measured per head of population: Londoners get more spending per head than people in all other regions combined.”

There’s a lot of anger this week about MPs getting a 9% pay rise. Now, there’s an argument that MPs are indeed underpaid compared to what the commercial sector offers and that better paid MPs would have less of an urge to see what they can get away with on expenses. But the least we should expect in return is results. How can the majority of us believe that our MPs are guarding well our interests when they allow Osborne and his chums to grab all the goodies for London?

Three reasons are claimed. One is that London and its hinterland jolly well need the money. That’s where the growth is happening. And that’s where it will go on happening if London continues to gorge itself on taxes raised from all other parts of the UK. If London’s infrastructure is groaning under the weight of its own prosperity, it’s about time it lost some fat. Centralisation produces ‘apoplexy at the centre and paralysis at the extremities’ and that’s never going to be healthy.

Then there’s the old ‘world city’ argument. There are places that count in the global economy and places that just don’t. We should be proud to be London’s serfs and not someone else’s. Why? What benefit do WE gain from watching our taxes bail out incompetent toffs? London’s clout just forces up the cost of housing and farmland in Wessex and destroys both our environment and our communities.

So is there a third reason why the legislature is failing to do what the constitutional theorists claim is its job, of holding the executive to account? It would seem so. MPs from Wessex and other disadvantaged regions could deny the Coalition its majority if they acted together against the robber barons of London. All that would be necessary for that to happen is for MPs to put their party – and their lust for ministerial office – in second place behind the interests of those who elected them. Us. That will happen only when we have Wessex Regionalists representing Wessex at Westminster and not the cardboard cutouts from the London parties we put up with today. UKIP? EngDems? Two parties for whom England is just London’s back yard, so expect nothing different from them.

Remember those figures. London and the ‘South East’: 86%. ‘South West’: 0.4%. Because the ‘South West’ doesn’t have such things as problems with transport, does it? So remember. You get what you vote for. Vote for a London party and you get London put first.

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