Friday, October 01, 2004

New Links says No4TheNorthEast

Time for some local politics instead of the three ring circus that is the US Presidential Campaign.

While checking out the Geordie Translator I saw a banner ad in support of the North East Regional Assembly campaign (yes4thenortheast) so I went to their site to have a squint. The first page has a truly laughable quote on it:
On November 4th 2004 we will have the chance to vote for a regional assembly. It will take power from government in London and hand it to the people of the North East.

What a load of shite! As far as I'm aware hardly any power is being devolved from London so surely that should be 'London will patronisingly give us a token bit of power just so we can make this ludicrous claim'. The proposed Regional Assembly is just another excuse for well connected people to get their nose into a trough and spend waste yet more of our money.

From their FAQ:
What powers will it have that will make a difference to my life?
An elected North East Assembly with significant powers over economic and social issues will be able to implement policies that can have enormous impact on our day-to-day lives - for example: economic development, transport, environment, land-use planning, public health and further education. What can be more important than jobs, education, health and the environment?

The modern world in which we live requires flexible and efficient regional government which can react quickly to changing events. Whitehall cannot respond quickly or appropriately enough to our needs.

An elected assembly will also give this region a distinctive political voice. Too often we have lost out to other regions ? whether it?s over the Barnett formula or the Capital of Culture bid ? and we?re not being listened to under the current system

There seems to be a lot of overlap with local councils and One North East in that statement. Where are the powers they are taking from central government? Or are they just taking powers we already have in various bodies already? Some detail on actual powers being devolved would be useful so you would know what you were actually voting as the vote is very soon - 4th November in fact. That's a NO from me then.

Roll on the rebirth of the Kingdom of Northumbria - we'll show them what real power in the North East is! ;)


ILuvNUFC said...

I've yet to cast a vote in my lifetime but i think i may be time to start now. I don't fancy the idea a regional assembly and if i can be @r53d i may get off my lazy old behind and vote NO.

I would however be willing to give my life, well possibly some time, to the NewLinks reclaim Northumbria campaign.

Merg said...

Vote YES for extra bureaucracy without any benefits!


Dogs said...

I'll vote YES (for extra beaurocracy!!!) if it means that the people who control funding and how our region is developed don't reside in Whitehall. Why would someone in London know more about the North? My problem is that the regional assembly is supposed to be non political but I'm not sure that those who will stand for election will be neutral. - but hey, that's democracy. I'm not worried that it will be, as mC fears, a bunch of well connected people with their noses in the trough. It's up to us to elect the right people.

Dogs said...

A mouse ran over my keyboard as I was typing "bureacracy".

mmChronic said...

I can't see it being apolitical at all. No one stands for something like this without an agenda of some sort.

Dogs said...

If the Yes vote wins then there should be some sort of background checking on the candidates - shame we didn't get that at the Toon when we went plc.

mmChronic said...

The only background requirement for shares in the toon was money. Same as everything else really.

What would you check for in someone's background? Having stood previously for a party? Having previously been a member of a party? Having previously voted for a party?

At what level do you decide someone is non political? Every person is a political animal to some extent.

Where did ypou see it was supposed to be non political? A reference would be nice. All the devolved assemblies so far are very political (Scotland, Wales, London) with candidates representing political parties - I can't see why this one should be any different.

FFS it's Big Fat John's last big plan - so he can say he left a mark other than the very deep indentation in the back seat of his Jags.

Dogs said...

The regional assembly will be, in theory at least, a non party political body. The comparison to make is the London Assembly which is a similar model. It has been turned into a political issue due to the fact that many of those who are backing the No vote are Tories. The bodies that are leading the Yes and No votes are not party political e.g. John Tomaney who is a leading figure for the Yes vote is a professor of Regionalism (or summat) from the University of Northumbria. - No doubt a raging Commie then :)

Take a look at this Evening Chron Page for links to the main contenders - the leader of the No vote looks like a total fascist to me :)

mmChronic said...

I see what you mean about about a fascist - he's got that 'Mussolini looking down his nose in an imperial manner' thing going on. The slaphead on him doesn't help either.

If it's based on the London Assembly model then it will be political. Cast your eyes over the Assembly Member list.

There are two main levels of government in this country so far, national and municipal. There are already arguments over where the authority of each overlaps. The huge council tax increases we have every year are a good example. They are blamed on the national government by the councils and the government says it's entirely in the council's hands. Whilst they fribble about the finer points of funding allocations and budgets we just get stiffed year on year for a service that is continually degrading.

So we introduce another level that sits between the two. This just introduces another boundary of responsibility that will cause yet more arguments and waste which we foot the bill for.

Have I mentioned the slight overrun in costs for the building of the HREF="">Scottish Parliament buildings? I haven't looked into the costs for the Welsh and London buildings but I bet they didn't come in on budget.

So to me it looks like more expense for more red tape and not much discernible benefit. Add into that political party candidates and we have even more time and money be wasted by parties piss farting about trying to score points at the other's expense. Yay. Can't wait.

mmChronic said...

Try again.

Dogs said...

London assembly has a lot party activists but it's still political with a small p. Voting for Labour or Conservative isn't on the agenda even if the elected members represent Tory or Labour constituencies. It's about deciding how best to allocate and spend regional funds and I very much doubt the focus will be on well off Conservative constituencies when you consider that we don't actually have any round here.
I think I may vote Yes simply because I'd rather decisions on developing the north were made by locally elected representatives.
And look on the bright side - we may get a fantastic architectural Regional Assembly building built to schedule and within budget. Errmmm. Or possibly not.

mmChronic said...

I'm sorry but I can't believe any body with Labour, Liberals, UKIP, Green and Conservative party members is political with a small p. They are official party representatives - they will toe the party line whatever it may be or they'll find themselves deselected next time around. You really are naive - I thought Red Stu would have educated you better than that! ;)

They don't manage to put aside party differences at national or local level - I don't see how this can be any different.

The fact the Conservatives are campaigning against it though means I'm now more likely to vote yes - due to party politics. But wait - party politics have nothing to do with it! PARP!

Dogs said...

It IS political with a small p just like Ken Livingstone is the mayor of London despite him being far left. His role is non party political. He can't make it Political because the role doesn't allow.

Anyway, you can't change your vote to YES. I demand that you vote NO like you said you would then I can call you a closet Tory ;)

I really don't care about the bureaucracy or the existence of party politics. I just want decisions made in the north by northerners - and the bonus is, I hope, that most of the assembly will represent Labour - rather than a bunch of southerners with Tory tendencies.

mmChronic said...

Ken isn't a member of any party anyway - he got kicked out by Labour for standing as Mayor didn't he? I know he's still an out and out lefty but he is beholden to no party for nominations - unlike the Assembly Members.

If members belong to one party or another (and they do) they'll vote on stuff accordingly. That's political. With a big P.

As I said in my original post I can't see real decisions being made by northerners. I can't see us being given the power to make any meaningful decisions. We'll have token decisions made by northerners and the real decisions will be still be made in Whitehall.

And I'm not allowed to change my vote? Who's the fascista now? ;)

Dogs said...

So will you be editing your main post to say something like "yeahbutnobutyeahbutnobut that's a YES from me thenbut only because I worked it out for myself and nuffink to do with what dogs said.

mmChronic said...

No. I'll still be voting No.

I like the way you claim my arguments are of the 'yeah but no but' variety. I've stated my opinions but backed them up with references. You as usual claim something to be true, I disprove it, you quietly ignore it and move on to the next untrue claim. You should be working for the Conservative party.

Dogs said...

I like the way you say you've disproven something whlst successfully ignoring my point. My point is that the Assembly is good for the North because it will (hopefully) be made up of Northerners. Party allegiance is merely a concern I have and not something that I wanted to mass debate about. I made a comment about London Assembly and you've gone and proven that it's members are politically active. Great but missed the point which was that the Regional Assembly does not represent a party in its remit.

I'm more concerned about politicians turning the referendum into a big political issue. The assembly is not party Political in any way other than politicians are trying to turn it into a political debate.
Party political with a capital P implies we are voting for a party or a party is in control. Neither is true. We have Tories and Labour scrapping over this issue but that is the politicians being political - not the assembly - geddit? It is not naive to say this isn't politics with a capital P though it is naive to fall for all the mutterings of politicians who would have you think this is about voting Labour or Conservative. It just isn't. The assembly is a body which determines spending of funds for development of our region - a non party political remit no matter how much politicians debate on it. Consider the Learning Skills Council which I expect the assembly will have some form of relationship/influence/control over. The LSC has a remit to control funding of Adult and Further Education - a frequent political issue but the LSC does not go about its daily chores based on the daily advice or control of the Labour Party. It has a clear mission that remains constant regardless of who is in power (though government may one day choose to change that) which is to fund and improve Adult Education - it will not make Political decisions itself. In the same way the assembly will go about its business of funding, regeneration and development of the North based on a clear remit which does not include following the daily orders of the Labour Party. The assembly will continue after the Labour Party is gone (the Tories may then choose to scrap it!!) We aren't voting for a party here. We are voting for representatives of our region to be given the power to determine how our region develops. Yes there will be some issues which are clearly favoured by the left or right but we're still not talking capital P politics.

We should be ignoring the politicians who would like to make this a political issue - they are just doing their thing but the assembly is a chance to remove some of the southern political influence on our region and to concentrate on what is best for the North.

But congratulations on proving that the assembly will be made up of some politically minded people. It's a shame that their role will have fsck all to do with whether or not their Party is in power.

mmChronic said...

Succesfully ignoring your point? The point about it consisting of northerners? I'll quote myself here:

As I said in my original post I can't see real decisions being made by northerners. I can't see us being given the power to make any meaningful decisions. We'll have token decisions made by northerners and the real decisions will be still be made in Whitehall.

I think that addresses that point. It doesn't matter who it's made up by - it'll be toothless.

And I still maintain party politics will have a role to play in it.

I think you should see the LSC to see if they have any grants for improving your English comprehension skills. ;)

mmChronic said...

Oh as for "naive to fall for all the mutterings of politicians" - the only politicians I've heard say anything about this are Fat John and Weasel Tony when they first announced the campaign. So I've hardly 'fallen' for anthing like that when I'm voting in opposition to the only politicians I've heard speak about this.

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