Devolution economics- (21.11.04)

It looks as if Devolution to the English regions is on the back burner, given the rejection in the North East of the proposals their for a regional assembly. The main advantage of having regional assemblies appear to be on the principle that economic decisions are best taken with a level of local democratic control. Currently, choices on investment and economic development are made on a regional basis by unelected quangos. Elected regional assemblies provided the opportunity to take democratic control over these agencies so that development could reflect the needs and wishes of local people through elected representatives.

If, as suspected, people were making the decision to reject the assembly largely due to mistrust in politicians, this leaves the interesting question if they prefer to leave the decisions in the hands of 'experts'. This is not necessarily an illogical position for the public to take, but it may also imply that people feel detached from economic decision making in any case. The absence of an elected assembly doesn't make the case for democratic control over economic decision making any weaker.