söndag 1 mars 2009

Whither England?


"England" can be difficult for people who are not white, Anglo-Saxon/Norman and Protestant. Even Catholic is foreign which is ironical as England was Catholic for nearly 1000 years. There are also issues round the fringes, like Cornwall, where for perfectly good practical reasons there is resistance to being a member of the South West Region. And much of the debate ultimately comes down to money.

As an RC Brit of largely foreign ancestry, I don't identify as English. In fact I feel more comfortable these days being abroad and speaking the local language badly with a foreign accent. That at least has a clarity and local people are happy when one is making an attempt with the language. I was OK with British but now the country has gone in for neo-colonialist adventures I just find it an embarrassment, and often get challenged as if I was personally responsible.

Probably the best way forwards is to adopt the principle of subsidiarity - matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralised competent authority. And government, at what ever level, should not be providing that which can be effectively provided by the "market".

But for that to happen means that such authorities need an independent source of taxation and one that is capable of being localised. Which rules out personal taxation because people are mobile and will play the system. Given the unpopularity of property taxation and our apparent inability to get it right, it is going to take a major change in attitudes to achieve satisfactory reform.

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