The Campaign for English Regions (CfER) has apparently risen from the ashes with an article in today’s Guardian by their Chairman, Phil Davies, calling for more regional government.
The CfER is headed up by Phil Davies, former Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council. Davies was sacked a few years ago following a vote of no confidence and was parachuted into a job with a couple of Labourite regional quangos – Transport West Midlands and the West Midlands Regional Assembly – where he wouldn’t be at the mercy of voters or an elected council.
Davies campaigned with CfER for regional government in the West Midlands a few years ago when John Prescott promised referenda in every euroregion in England and then cancelled them because the North East gave the wrong answer. He helped set up the West Midlands Constitutional Convention which wasn’t the talking shop to discuss ideas or gauge public opinion that you would expect from a Constitutional Convention but had only one stated objective – to come with ideas on how to introduce regional government in the West Midlands.
The Constitutional Convention died a death – their website hasn’t been updated for nearly four years. The CfER website is now owned by a search engine company and the West Midlands Regional Assembly is being disbanded in 2010. Not the kind of record that looks good on a CV!
When the CfER was first campaigning for regional government it was calling for regional government with the same powers and the Scottish Parliament. Now they’re calling for the same powers as the London Assembly – a glorified town council. Davies says that he wants a return to the time when English cities and counties had the same power as the Scottish Parliament like in the second half of the 20th Century – the Scottish Parliament was only created in 1997 and hadn’t existed for night on 300 years prior to that. He cites the regionalisation found on the continent as an example of how great things would be if we were to carry out the EU’s directives on elected regional government but fails to mention that fact that no member state has a mixture of national and regional governments in place at the same time. Can you imagine a single government for Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) with a national government for Belgium, a national government for Luxembourg and the Netherlands broken up into regions? Of course not, it wouldn’t be fair but that is what is being proposed for England.
I don’t know which is sadder – that abject failures like Phil Davies still manage to get themselves presented by the media as a credible source of innovation or that people like him really believe that if they write to enough newspapers promoting their regionalist agenda they’ll somehow convince the people of England that what they really want is for their country to be broken up and to be run by toothless regional governments answerable to the EU Committee of Regions.