Power to the People? The route to English devolution

Jonathan S Davies and Arianna Giovannini

There is a growing consensus that English governance is over-centralised, and that more-or-less radical devolution is required. The possibility of a new government in 2024 creates a unique opening and new impetus for  a radical devolutionary settlement in England.

But how can we best take advantage of this seemingly propitious moment? What can prevent a rapid reversion to the deeply embedded culture of centralism in England, where the statements and actions of ministers are prone to frequently and flatly contradicting devolutionary rhetoric? 

Radical devolution requires a radical approach and a comprehensive, coherent and irreversible plan for reform. It must be developed by the centre in partnership with local leaders and communities, and not solely as another top-down project.

Power to the People?, a new report from Compass and Unlock Democracy, assesses five proposals that could provide inspiration and guidance for an incoming government, if it is determined to act. The report concludes with its own set of recommendations inspired by these proposals.

“By asking the critical questions about what devolution is meant to be for, and identifying the key steps to achieve it, this report brings clarity to an often confused debate. The political parties will need to commit to these reforms or at least explain why they won’t” – John Denham, Prof and Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at Southampton University and Former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Unlock Democracy and Compass are working together on a Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust funded project to build consensus around a new democratic settlement. With a focus on the Labour Party, other progressive parties and civil society campaigners, we are looking to create the conditions for a new 21st century democratic settlement for our nations, communities and citizens.

Read the report

Compass started
for a better society
Join us today