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BLAIR OUTLINES PLAN FOR 'COUNTRIES OR REGIONS' TO TAKE DECISIONS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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Tony Blair yesterday launched Labour's campaign to defeat the Scottish National Party in May's Scottish parliament ...
Tony Blair yesterday launched Labour's campaign to defeat the Scottish National Party in May's Scottish parliament elections, denouncing the party's goal of an independent Scotland as 'backward thinking', the Financial Times reports (p22).

With Labour just ahead of the SNP in opinion polls in the battle for control of Scottish parliament, Mr Blair's speech mapped out the themes on which Labour will campaign over the next six months.

Departing from his prepared text, Mr Blair said he wanted to construct a new constitutional settlement in which 'countries or regions' could take decisions on 'schools, hospitals and local government', while defence and foreign policies were formulated at a UK level.

In a column (p20) George Parker writes Tony Blair's plan for regional government are in disarray. Not because it provides different kinds of devolution to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, but because different parts of the policy are going at different speeds. And also because it is clear devolution in these areas will bring forward people whom the prime minister does not like at all, he says.
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