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Friday, November 05, 2004

The other election

In the headiness of what's been happening stateside I almost entirely forgot about another electoral event that was happening on the Sceptered Isle. For in their vast and incomprehensible wisdom Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had given John Prescott leave to push the idea of English Regional Assemblies. Well, thursday was the last day of voting for the first of the referendums on these putative talking-shops, in the North-East. The result?

A 78-22 public rejection.

It is moments like this that give me great faith in my fellow subjects. You show them a poor plan, an imposition that would waste time and money and only give Whitehall more practical power, and they spit it right back in your face. With luck the John Prescott will realise he cannot push unpopular proposals on people.

Now, if these proposed assemblies had been given the chance of some real power I'd be far more conflicted about where I stood on the issue of English regional devolution. Ultimately though, I know what I would want - give all those powers back to the County Councils. If the government is serious about the regions, that give it to the counties. For the time being at least the counties still have their own identities. Trust the people, they might surprise you.

As a side note, I very much doubt this will negatively impact on either Tony or Gordon. Thus always was John Prescott's hobby-horse. Since he's not in running for anything important I don't really expect this to impact negatively on him either, unless he tries to force referendums on Yorkshire or the North-West.

Another side note - a fairly impressive turnout. I think this is just about as emphatic a rejection as could be managed in a mid-election cycle.

A final side note - I also guess that this probably marks the start of the run-up to the next General election if the pundits are right that May 5th is going to be the date. I am bored already.

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