Why people across England want to dump London government

In the wake of a new poll showing rising support for increased devolution, David Montgomery argues that it’s long overdue

The Houses of Parliament in Westminster (Photo: Shutterstock)

So the people have lost faith in their national political masters.

According to the latest poll, eighty per cent - a decisive figure and not the mere four per cent that decided Brexit - want to have a greater say in how they are governed. The instrument of choice to deliver this is English devolution.

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Local elected mayors controlling the key concerns of local people - healthcare, schools and housing. Why not, especially if you have a vigorous local media to scrutinise their efforts?

However, proliferation of government is not what is wanted. With the transfer of responsibility to local democratic institutions there must also be a downsizing at Westminster.

It is going to be a challenge to get the House of Commons to vote for Christmas.

The 650 MPs need to be reduced in number – a necessary efficiency ever since devolution for Scotland that still has disproportionate representation in the national Parliament measured against English regions with no devolved powers.

Nor does genuine devolution begin and end with political restructuring.

There needs to be creative and cultural devolution as well.

Everything from the Arts Council to all national media, including the out of touch BBC, is run from London along with Google and Facebook. Remarkably, it is a 15 minute stroll between the head offices of these four institutions.

Local media and local culture is getting smothered by these big brutes, aided and abetted by a London Government that does not have the stomach to take them on.

The new opinion poll suggests that comprehensive English devolution is long overdue.

Yes, people want local control over their material lives. Perhaps they also need the freedom to express themselves creatively instead of being continually drowned out by the overbearing London lords of media and culture.

David Montgomery is the chairman and editor-in-chief of JPI Media

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