It is unsurprising that politicians are some of the most hated people in Britain. Aside from being seen as habitual liars and opportunists, they lead lives that are far removed from the people they are supposed to represent. In an age of austerity, when we’re all being told to tighten our belts and expect to pay more for less, MPs vote themselves pay rises, enjoy heavily subsidised meals, claim millions in expenses and – we now learn – are having their private gym upgraded at a cost of £250,000 to the taxpayer. The political class in Britain has enjoyed taxpayer-funded privilege and excess for too long; the Westminster bubble needs to be popped!
The Hannah Mitchell Foundation has been promoting the idea of a “a fair and prosperous North of England through devolution to local and regional government”. The Free North Campaign supports any progressive organisation that seeks to win support for greater regional autonomy for the North. Obviously our agenda is even more radical – we call for an independent, self-governing Northern Republic. By breaking free from Westminster, it would be much easier for us to ensure that the people we elect to political office do not become a privileged elite. Ways in which this can be achieved include:
• Paying no MP more than the average worker’s salary in the North.
• Capping expenses and ending subsidised food and drink.
• Relocating the Northern Parliament each parliamentary term to promote inclusive and accessible politics.
• Expanding the use of referendums and devolve decision-making about all local issues to local government.
• Introducing proportional representation so that a Northern Parliament is more representative of the electorate.
• Establish a unicameral parliament, no upper house with Lords being paid £300 a day just for turning up.
For some people, the idea of leaving the United Kingdom is a step too far. We ask those people to stay open-minded about the idea. Northern independence makes sense on many levels, meanwhile the United Kingdom (which is a state, not a nation) is an increasingly irrelevant idea in the 21st century. Independence would allow the North to be politically and economically self-sufficient, no longer at the mercy of Westminster and the City of London. Voters in an independent North would almost certainly never elect a Tory government, and proportional representation would mean greater relevance for minority parties. People would still be free to call themselves British if they really wanted to. The most important thing is that the North would be able to stand up for itself and implement its own political and economic agenda based on Northern values of fairness, solidarity and common sense.
The Welsh Senate (Senedd), a parliament more suitable for the 21st century than Westminster.