Over the past century England has become one of the most centralised nations in the developed world. Despite powers being handed to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and, to a lesser degree, London, very little has been offered by way of decentralisation in England. However, in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum and the run-up to the general election, all of the mainstream political parties appear to have taken a devolutionary turn.
This short briefing paper considers each party's pledges on devolution as set out in their manifestos. It includes a 'devolution dashboard' in which each of the three major parties is 'scored' according to the extent to which their manifesto pledges represent significant advances in terms of decentralisation in England; these are measured against the seven broad outcomes set out in IPPR North's landmark Decentralisation decade report. These key commitments on English devolution from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos are also quoted in full for comparison and ease of reference.
By analysing and comparing the parties' stances on decentralisation in relation to the economy, labour market, public services, housing, democratic and fiscal reform and more, this briefing offers a comprehensive assessment of how we can expect the English devolution agenda to be taken in the new parliament. While there remains a significant disconnect between the parties' relatively strident rhetoric on English devolution and the detail of the incremental measures they are actually proposing, there is no doubt that the devolution genie is now out of the lamp.
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