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Voters have lost trust not only in Westminster, but in politics in general. That's the problem facing the governmen...
Voters have lost trust not only in Westminster, but in politics in general. That's the problem facing the government's proposal for elected regional assemblies, according to a new report from the left-wing think-tank The Centre for Democratic Policy-making. The election of an ex football mascot as mayor in the North East dramatically highlights the problem: why should voters this disaffected with existing political options care about new assemblies which simply bring Westminster closer to home?

The Report, Regional Government and Democratic Renewal' by Lynne Humphrey and John Tomaney, says the rot in our political system runs too deep for people to be interested in the promised devolution of power, if the devolution is simply to another group of professional politicians.

The authors argue that although the proposed proportional system of election for regional assemblies will make them inclusive, without a strong element of direct participation from citizens and civic groups, the assemblies will still lack wide appeal.

'Regional government holds out the possibility of a new approach to governance, but any proposals must contain strong and imaginative mechanisms for giving citizens and civic groups an influence in the work of assemblies that goes beyond 'consultation'.' (Co-author Professor John Tomaney of Newcastle University's Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies said)

'England has a rich network of civic organisations - from residents associations and environmental groups to trade unions. The proposed new regional assemblies should work with them to form the basis of a new form of participatory democracy, strengthening the Assembly's parliamentary forms' (Hilary Wainwright, Editor of Red Pepper, co-founder of the Centre for Democratic Policy-making)

* To obtain a copy of Regional Government and Democratic Renewal e-mail: with your postal address.

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