The Journal Opinion: How does the North East claim more powers in a changing United Kingdom?

The Journal's opinion column for Saturday, September 20, in which we analyse the ways forward after Scotland rejected independence

Andrew Milligan/PA Wire Jon Gamble from go2eventhire as he asks the question YES or NO with illuminated signs near Dunblane, Scotland
Jon Gamble from go2eventhire as he asks the question YES or NO with illuminated signs near Dunblane, Scotland

It’s ironic that it has taken a defeated referendum in another country to at last spark a discussion we should have had in our own country years ago.

But now, at last, we are there. Scotland has voted in huge numbers and by a margin which brooks no argument to remain part of the United Kingdom.

As to what happens next in England and in the North East in particular there is not much in the way of consensus.

But at least there is discussion, there is debate and there are ideas.

The road to reshaping the governance of our country is a hard one. It’s the kind of thing we might ordinarily have taken years to mull over. But the reckless promises made by the main party leaders in the latter stages of the referendum campaign have made that work much more urgent.

The pledge to maintain the Barnett Formula in perpetuity was particularly foolish and will almost certainly come back to bite David Cameron and Ed Miliband very hard on the backside.

The formula had no place in the politics of 1999, when The Journal campaigned hard but in vain to have it dismantled. It is even more out-of-date now. The difference is that far more people have cottoned on to that fact. It cannot and must not continue in perpetuity.

Local government leaders in the North East have immediately spotted the grave flaw in plans for an English parliament – it would not only not solve the problems we have now, it may even make them worse.

We rejected a regional assembly 10 years ago, so that cannot return in that form.

Yet our regional structures – the combined authority, the Local Enterprise Partnership – must be strengthened. Whatever is to be put on the table, the North must have its share.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer