Devolution for the North-east? The possibility that Scotland will govern itself has re-invigorated those in the north of England who want more local powers

Campaigners are trying to breathe new life into the regional devolution movement

Scotland has a parliament and soon, possibly, independence; Wales has an assembly, and last week the Cornish were recognised as a national minority. Now, with their eyes firmly on events in Edinburgh, campaigners in the northernmost counties of England are looking towards devolution.

Regional assembles were to be the final piece in the last government's devolution jigsaw, but were scrapped after voter indifference and referendum No votes in 2004. But, with Scottish independence on the horizon and a general election a year away, small but vocal groups from Cumbria to Northumberland and Yorkshire are trying to breathe new life into the regional devolution movement.

Leading the charge in Northumberland is the former Labour MP Hilton Dawson, who is to form a new party for the North-east next month. "The region needs its own party to provide a strong voice to speak exclusively for it," said the former Westminster insider, who stepped down from parliament just before his Lancaster seat went blue in 2005.

He added: "We have some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country here, but the Westminster system is failing us entirely. We want some of what the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru have got. If they can have devolved success, why can't we?"

Members of the Sealed Knot Members of the Sealed Knot Mr Hilton and his admittedly small band of followers insist the new North-east party isn't calling for independence and doesn't want a "currency or military or anything like that". Rather its voice, along with others across the North, will call for control over public services and devolved democracy.

In Northumberland, said Mr Hilton, the need for devolution should be obvious for all to see: "Sadly the caricature is true; the vast majority of the bright and talented officials, mandarins and representatives based in London have no idea what the rest of the country is like beyond Watford."

He added: "You just have to drive down the A1 from Scotland to Northumberland to see how badly off we are. In Scotland they have decent quality roads, quality services and are at ease with themselves, moving together, while in Northumberland we have the most dangerous cart-track in Europe. That road is a metaphor for neglect by the main Westminster parties."

Just off the A1, so central to life in the North-east, is Morpeth, where this weekend thousands of Northumbrians are celebrating their culture and history as part of the yearly Northumbrian Gathering. The pageant's organiser, Northumbrian folk musician Kim Bibby- Johnson, is not surprised at this type of revival taking place in the North-east: the area has a "strong cultural heritage" and "historical" links to life north of the "modern border".

The parade featured pipe bands sporting regional crests The parade featured pipe bands sporting regional crests She said: "We don't have the same marketing divisions that Scotland has for the 'tartan culture', but we have our own distinct local way of life and culture …. We were part of an independent kingdom in the Anglo-Saxon period, long before the idea of the separate countries of England and Scotland."

Paul Salveson, chair of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, which campaigns for regional devolution for the north, said the Scottish Independence vote had given the movement renewed impetus. "The North-east has been scarred by the negative result of the 2004 devolution referendum, but that was limited devolution and 10 years is a long time," he said. "The moves to Scottish independence highlights the marginalising of the north of England. It's something that's tangible to people of all political parties in the North."

Support also comes from unlikely quarters, including Conservative Borders MP Rory Stewart. He is "deeply sympathetic" to regional devolution and would be "tempted to stand for something that didn't involve going Westminster" if devolution came to the North-west. "We've inherited a medieval system of government, which is really struggling to work in a modern democracy. What's happening north of the border in Scotland is advertisement not for independence but for the benefits of autonomy."

It is a message that echoes in Yorkshire where this month businessman Richard Carter formed the Yorkshire First party to contest European elections and call for devolution, even though Mr Carter himself lives in Oslo and apparently has no plans to return home.

A poll for the pro-devolution campaign group Devolve Deliver last week showed 65 per cent of voters think "too much of England is run from London". The findings come as the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, promised to put "city-region" government at the heart of his party's attempt to rebalance growth in the UK. According to Labour the plan represents "the biggest economic devolution of power to England's great towns and cities in a hundred years".

However Jonathan Blackie, a lecturer at Northumbria University and the former regional director for the Government Office North East, warned: "I wouldn't say the talk in the bars and buses of Newcastle was about devolution quite yet. There is a sense of distance from London but the North-east possesses a dynamism it didn't 20 years ago."

Mr Stewart said that while "people feel that the British political system is broken and that Westminster dominates … they aren't ready to go all-out and vote for radical constitutional change just yet".

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor