CAERNARFON/YORK (Reuters) – Scotland’s chance to vote for independence has lit hopes in other regions of Britain that a reworking of political ties might boost their chances of self-rule too.
London-based parliamentarians have been wrong-footed by a late surge of support among Scottish voters planning to say ‘Yes’ on Sept. 18, and their consequent hurried promise to award Edinburgh more economic decision-making if it stays part of the union is being eyed by Manchester, Yorkshire and Wales.
A big gap has widened in Britain in recent decades between cities and regions at each end of the country. The ‘North-South Divide’ came about because manufacturing and mining industries in the north and midlands failed while London and the south east saw a boom in financial and media industries.
It’s a source of bitterness for many British voters, who see London as a city state increasingly detached from the rest of the United Kingdom not just economically but culturally. And analysts agree the government in Westminster has left whole areas of the rest of the country to stagnate because they don’t have the power to tailor their own growth policies.
“While global competitors are free to invest in their major cities, UK metros are at the mercy of central government, hoping for a cut of a fixed pot of national income,” said the RSA City Growth Commission in a report chaired by economist Jim O’Neill.
The United Kingdom has one of the most centralised systems of public finance of any major OECD country. The proportion of taxation set by local government accounts for just 1.7 percent of Britain’s gross domestic product, compared to 5 percent in France and 16 percent in Sweden, according to the RSA report.
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