London is the Final Nail in the Coffin of Legislative Devolution

August 7, 2018


Here’s a good example of why having devolved legislatures (legislative devolution) doesn’t work in practice. 


When one part of a unitary country, like the U.K., has its own devolved legislature it encourages that area to ignore it's given responsibilities (or devolved remit) of looking after its own local affairs and get involved in national matters that concern the whole U.K. (the reserved remit that only the national U.K. government should get involved in). This encourages that devolved region to think of itself as a sovereign nation in its own right and encourages separatism. It promotes the fragmentation and balkanisation of the unitary country


This process is clearly happening in London. Mayor Sadiq Khan is getting involved in reserved (U.K.) matters like Brexit and acting like he is the Prime Minister of a sovereign independent country, rather than just the Mayor of a devolved region of the U.K. with responsibilities over local London matters only. 


London has absolutely no need for a separate tier of government distinct from the rest of the U.K. What real purpose does the London assembly serve? None. Why does London need to be separated administratively from the rest of the U.K.?There is no argument for this due to any kind of functional reality. Everything that the assembly does now can be done by the House of Commons, or other bodies. You don't need a separate assembly to physically carry out these functions. Neither is the 'democratic deficit' argument valid. Before devolution London was perfectly well represented by MPs in the Commons. MPs are directly elected by the voters of London by secret ballot so there's no need for a separate assembly there either. The Greeter London Authority is just an unnecessary extra layer of government.


Added to the above, there are unwanted side effects of London devolution. The biggest one is that it accelerates the process of the balkanisation of the U.K. that legislative devolution has also introduced into other parts of the United Kingdom. It does little to improve the life of ordinary Londoners (certainly that couldn't still be done through the Commons or other bodies) and has the extremely unwelcome effect of serving to further fracture the integrity of a unitary U.K. by encouraging the idea that London is somehow separate from the rest of the U.K. There have been numerous occasions in recent years that the cry has gone up from London that 'Londoners don't really consider themselves to be part of the U.K.', they think of themselves as a 'different country'. It is quite clear to any moderately sharp observer that all the introduction of legislative devolution in London has done is promote a feeling of separatism amongst Londoners and this could easily accelerate into something that could threaten the unitary nature of the U.K.


A second similarly unwanted side effect of London devolution is that it strongly aids the propagation of cultural-Marxism in both the capital and the U.K. Don't be mistaken. London has always been a revolutionary minded place with free thinking rebellious people that don’t like being told what to do or think at all, who like to go against the grain of accepted thought and do things their own way. This can be a very good thing indeed. Free thinking always is. Look at examples like the Reformation. London (the South-East generally and Scotland) took to these new ideas as a great innovation and liberty whilst many in the land failed to see its advantages and look how right they turned out to be.


However, not all new innovations are positive and one such example of this is the London Mayoralty. One aspect of London devolution is the introduction of an elected mayor.What's wrong with that? On the surface nothing. A closer look reveals that the office of mayor has simply been used as a conduit for certain far-left ideologues to push their left-liberal and multi-cultural agendas. This is most strikingly true with the current incumbent, Sadiq Khan. He has used his position to advance a multitude of left-liberal ideas. Practical experience of the last twenty years of devolution in London has revealed that the mayoralty has simply been employed by people like Khan and others (such as Ken Livingstone) as a medium for the propagation and advancement of the holder's agenda. As London generally tends to be of a left-wing persuasion, this invariably means London is controlled by cultural-Marxist ideologues intent upon thrusting their agenda forward.


Another very important argument against London devolution is that it's really just a completely unnecessary extra tier of government. You don't need a whole separate assembly just to deal with London's local government.A s is the case with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is not necessary to have a separate executive to deal with purely local matters (I.E. London's in this case) in order to prevent other areas from deciding how you run things. The answer (as with Scotland, Wales and NI) is administrative devolution. London has LEGISLATIVE devolution (I.E. it has its own assembly that can legislate on certain matters- it's devolved remit in other words).However, under ADMINISTRATIVE devolution power relevant to local (I.E. purely relating to London, or Scotland, Wales and NI) governance would be devolved to local bodies (like councils),organisations and individuals. This way democracy and power is kept localised, close to the electorate and there is no interference from outside forces in London’s local affairs. There's no assembly. This means that the creeping balkanisation of the U.K. that legislative devolution has introduced, with the constituent parts of the U.K. drifting apart on a path of separatism, is halted and the concept of localism is fully served. Everybody's a winner!


It's time for a re-think on London's constitutional arrangements. It's clear that the current situation is undesirable and reform is needed. Apathy is not an option. We need to act to rectify this situation before it's too late. We mustn't be afraid to advocate this kind of reform even though we will face a chorus of execration from our opponents on the liberal and multi-cultural left.


The same process is happening in the other areas of the UK with devolved legislatures Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, particularly Scotland, where the nationalist SNP has often ignored its devolved remit and got involved in reserved matters, like the constitution and Brexit. What’s more, it’s been going on for 11 years now (in Scotland) and it doesn’t look like they will stop interfering in reserved matters anytime soon.


Tony Blair’s legislative devolution ‘settlement’ has failed. It has promoted balkanisation and fragmented the once homologous and united U.K. into a warring hodgepodge of disunited regions.


We’ve  had this system for twenty years now and its proponents have signally failed to make it work. The various nationalist groups and individuals like Khan have made the system unworkable by abusing their remit and getting involved in reserved matters.


The only way forward now on the constitutional matter is to abolish the devolved legislatures and replace them with a system of administrative devolution. Under this, the constituent parts of the U.K., including London, would have control over purely local matters (IE Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland and London concerns) devolved to local councils, organisations and individuals (like the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and NI, for example). This would keep power localised to the regions of the U.K. and democracy close to the people. It also one hundred per cent guarantees the Union as there are no devolved legislatures that can be utilised by nationalists or individuals like Khan to ignore their devolved remit and push their part of the U.K. towards breaking away from the unitary polity


The experience of legislative devolution in London backs up the negative experience of it in other parts of the U.K. into which it’s been introduced: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It has led to inefficient government that has done little to improve the living and working conditions of ordinary citizens. In fact, they have significantly deteriorated in Scotland, London and Wales where conditions in several areas (such as the economy, education, health, crime Et Al) have markedly declined. Added to this, and importantly for Unionists, it has displayed the same extremely worrying tendency to promote fragmentation and disintegration of the unitary nature of the United Kingdom. It is now clear that legislative devolution has proved to be extremely deleterious to the integrity of a unitary U.K. everywhere it has been introduced and it has been thoroughly disproved as a viable constitutional model for the U.K. The disastrous experience of it in London has been the final nail in the coffin of those who still advocate it.


© Stephen Bailey 2018.

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