The Chthonicle

In defence of devolution — but not Northumbria Xanthe–Orpheus Florence

Unionist protesters gather around Grey's Monument, Newcastle.

In recent weeks, protesters have poured into the North's streets demanding the government take back its plans for Northern devolution; many fear it could pave the way to full-blown independence, and activist Ian Caldwell described it as painting over the cracks of the region's problems. A reasonable person may ask: Why does the Gaia Movement continue to support devolution, even in the face of such overwhelming opposition?

The answer, dear reader, is that the problem in the government's devolution plans lie not in the process of devolution itself, but instead in its scope. The dozen's march from Hadrian's Wall to Westminster is a clear symptom that Northern voters are disillusioned with Westminster's belief that it knows best, and who could blame them when it comes to the centimanic sown-together monstrosity that is the government's concept of Northumbria?

The arbitrary circumcision of England at the border of three European parliament regions will not solve a Yorkshireman's distrust in national government any more than the Scottish parliament has made a Shetlander feel like Edinburgh represents them, or any more than the Good Friday agreement has made a Sinn Féin voter consider themself British rather than Irish. Northumbria is a plainly manufactured concept with no basis in reälity; even if one accepts the ideä of Northern devolution, one must concede that this arbitrary region will not solve the issues of political aliënation of the people!

No; for the people to be represented, we must, as we are wont to do in the Movement, turn the tide back to the ancients for inspiration. Ancient Hellas organised herself by the pólis model, where a city and its surroundings formed one coherent self-governing unit, ruled by their own populace.0

We can apply this framework to the modern age: imagine a patchwork of towns and cities, each with its own devolved laws, with its people deciding what is best for themselves. What is best for one region is not necessarily best for another: the common person is be far better off if they can effect change at the grassroots level, at a city scale, working with local communities and organisations, rather than taking on the insurmountable task of pleasing a legislature of thousands on an island of millions.

That having been said; the country still needs some degree of confederation. Crises of human rights and climate change are best solved with the joint mind and might of many, and it would be unfair to let rogue póleis make things worse for all others.

So, when people say they feel parliament does not represent them, one cannot solve the issue by unifying, halving, quartering, nor decimating the country. The state's institutions must be split by the hundred and shared round, for the greater good of all.

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