Friday, May 8, 2015

Please, not so fast....

Let's have a full discussion on constitutional and electoral reform, and not allow the Tories to change the shape of the UK for political convenience.

We have UKIP, with 12% of the popular vote on seats declared, calling for electoral reform. We have the SNP, on 54% of the popular vote in Scotland at 4am, effectively demonstrating they'd win a second referendum (anyone checked the price of oil ?). We have a whole new line-up of UK mayors; we have the Osborne-created City State of Manchester, and more promised. No sign of English votes for English people. And no real idea what sort of buy-back of powers and money Cameron will get from his EU partners.

So let's lengthen the list of issues in a referendum. I'd propose abolishing the House of Lords, and creating a UK-wide upper tier, based on some variant of EU constituencies, with proportional representation. They'd deal with defence (yes, Nicola), foreign policy, relations with the EU, over-arching transport strategy, monetary policy, financial regulation, VAT levels, National Insurance levels etc - and take over responsibility for replacing the Barnett formula with a new "total tax revenue required" figure, which can be sent on to new assemblies (or regional assemblies) in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - and the devolved governments can then take responsibility for how they raise it. The prospect of "tax dodging tourism" ought to ensure that there is at least some similarity in their income tax outcomes, but there is room for some incentive variations, looking a different types of businesses. It's too early think about how the assemblies are elected, but it has to be the same for each, and have some element of PR.

The Houses of Parliament should be turned into a major tourist attraction during the day, and available for corporate and party hire evenings and weekends. It will be closed in summer for filming more Harry Potter stuff.

No foreign architects should be allowed to build new assembly chambers.

I thank you.

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