OSBORNE’S plans for English cities to have mayors and combined authorities with powers over housing, health care, transport, planning and policing mean that London, a centre for the international bankers, with a population of 8.6 million, will virtually become a separate country, a city state, while Greater Manchester and Birmingham will struggle in its wake, with the rest going to the dogs and becoming no-go poor areas.
Last year, leaders of Greater Manchester’s 10 councils agreed to the area’s first mayoral election, described by Osborne at the time as ‘a massive moment for the north of England’.
The Tory government’s advocacy of such a plan for England, since Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be following suit, is an expression of the supreme weakness of British capitalism and not of any strength.
It will obviously mean that the richer cities will have better facilities, housing, and health care, transport and education, at least for the ruling class and a section of the middle class, while the rest of the country is subjected to every conceivable type of rationing and privation.
This plan will mean the end of the ‘NATIONAL Health Service, and the privatisation of its different entities by international capital, which will busy itself carrying out privatisations on a city by city basis.
It will also be the end of national state education, and of national transport systems.
Greater Manchester – which will elect a mayor in two years, after initially rejecting electing a mayor, is to become a blueprint for the other major cities, after ‘A Cities Devolution Bill’ which will be in the Queen’s Speech later this month, is forced through the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Under the devolution plans, the mayor would lead the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, chair its meetings and allocate responsibilities to a cabinet made up of the leaders of each of the 10 councils.
Councils in Greater Manchester currently control about £5bn of public money each year. This deal is expected to give them control over a further £2bn.
Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol and Merseyside are then expected to follow suit in an attempt to plot the further survival of British capitalism, using regionalism as its method.
One of the aspects of the scheme that endears itself to the ruling class is that it will mean city-wide terms and conditions of service for workers and their trade unions, and put an end to national pay and conditions, promoting regionalism and undermining national trade unions, something that the bosses long for.
The Chancellor has said that the ‘old model’ of running everything from London is ‘broken’ and has unbalanced the economy. He is wrong. It is the ruling class that has broken and unbalanced Britain, and is having to go over to divisive regionalism to survive.
Dividing the country into separate city states is just another attempt to breathe life into a dying capitalist system on the basis of reducing the country to a series of rival cities, with the bankers and bosses still in power in London.
Alongside the regime of city states is to be a greater devolution for Scotland and Wales.
The implication is that if the city states have to manage their affairs, or go bust, the same will apply to Wales and Scotland – the Barnet formula is out and fiscal responsibility is in.
Once again, Osborne’s scheme is just another desperate attempt to elongate the rule of the British bankers and capitalists by changing the form of rule and splitting the country up into rival entities with regionalism dominating. The content remains – the rule of the bankers and capitalists.
City rule is not, as Osborne claims, ‘a revolution in the way we (News Line emphasis) govern England’ – it is part of a counter revolution, to divide England up into a number of competing regions.
There is only one way that Britain can develop for the benefit of the vast majority of its population.
This is through a socialist revolution that overthrows the ruling class of bankers and bosses and replaces it with a workers state, where workers manage a nationalised and planned economy to provide everybody with the necessities for a decent life.