Saturday, May 08, 2010

Wishful thinking?

For some years now, here and on a slightly less sweary blog, I've been advocating a form of radical decentralisation that has - at it's heart - the aim of maximising the benefits of representative government. My problem has always been that I've not been able to see a set of circumstances in which the various forces of history could come together and give birth to the idea.

Today, is it possible that those stars are perfectly aligned? None of the MSM commentators seemed to have picked up the Cyberlock yet, but as far as I can see, it has the potential of making the Lib-Dems impossible to deal with unless they can get the quality of democratic reform that their membership will ask for.

If Labour wants to woo the Lib-Dems, it needs to offer them something dramatic. But it also needs to bring in the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, Caroline Lucas, Naomi Long and the SDLP.

That something could be PR(STV) and a dramatic programme of decentralisation - regional govermnent, delegation of more powers to assemblies and local government. All of those parties have little objection to decentralisation and all of them are a good deal more pro-EU than the two main parties.

A government of national unity that would take the economic steps needed to address the crisis (the deal to the smaller parties is that they let the Chancellor make the big decisions in the short term and stay out of that as long as the cuts are spread evenly), and that it's main focus otherwise is to deliver a Euro-federalist bunch of reforms to the UK.

The only fly in the ointment is my own party. If the leadership wanted to do a deal like this (and it's possible that they don't and would prefer a spell in opposition until the current economic storm blows over) would they be able to exert enough discipline to force the minority of MPs that really hate the idea of PR and Euro-federalism?


Tom Freeman said...

It might be. For one thing, the more parties you have in a coalition, the harder it becomes to manage; for another, to put together a 'government of national unity' while pointedly excluding the biggest party would look pretty suspect.

Another thought is that even if the Tories and Lib Dems do some sort of limited deal, there could be a majority in parliament for an electoral reform referendum anyway. It would need a lot of sceptical Labour MPs to agree, but in theory it could be done without needing the Tories...

Paulie said...

Hard -to-manage may even be good though in the short term? It would de- clutter the legislative programme, get rid of a lot of that daft New Labour 'signalling legislation' and keep the focus tightly on constitution and economy?

Tom Freeman said...

Could be. The flipside of coalition government being less decisive than single-party rule is that the partners tend to filter out each other's stupider pet schemes.