Secretary Michael Gove at the “levelling up” department has proposed a US-style system of governors for some parts of England. His plan could empower some regions across the country and decentralise power in the UK. Westminster, however, has postponed the proposal with reasons of dealing with the Omicron Covid Variant.
Gove Introduces an Ambitious Devolution Plan
The UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove has planned to make changes in power-sharing. According to his plan, residents of some areas will elect governors instead of mayors. The UK government had scheduled to publish the project by 2021, but it was postponed to early 2022. Gove introduced a US-style system of governors for swathes of rural England to empower regions.
The purpose of the US-style governor is to give local leaders equivalent powers to London in every part of England. People can elect governors where the term of mayor seems inappropriate. Gove’s proposal is a devolution that allows the English regions to elect governors. Secretary Gove proposed the plan to “level up” regions, as the department’s name suggests.
The Levelling Up Department Makes UK a Better Place
Previously, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. It was renamed under Michael Gove for “improvements to every part of the UK”. It should support communities to flourish and make them great places to live and work.
Economic differences remain between different parts of the UK, including cities, towns, and rural and coastal communities. These economic differences affect people’s lives, and the government tackles these differences by levelling up the regions. The levelling up department gives more power to local leaders to shape things happening in their areas. This department has to level up living standards in every region. When parliament votes to support local authorities, the department distributes funding for local services.
Local Authorities Will Be Powerful
The new “levelling up” proposal for a US-style system of governors will decentralise power. The concept of governors in English counties will bring radical changes which empower regions. In May, Gove had announced the government will publish a landmark levelling up white paper this year. According to Gove, the plan will set out policy interventions to increase public living. Currently, politics are vastly centred around Westminster. His proposal for US-style governors can profoundly change this system by letting people elect governors in local authority areas. His levelling up agenda will redistribute resources to poor regions across the country. The US-style governor proposal was due to come out by the end of 2021, but it has been postponed by the government to deal with the Omicron Covid variant.
Mayors Decide for English Cities
Some successful mayoral experiences in the UK inspired the idea of US-style governors. There are several important elections in the United Kingdom. One of the elections is choosing local mayors, the mayor of London and the London Assembly. The Mayor of London makes decisions on behalf of the people of London. The London Assembly has 25 members who make sure the mayor’s findings are in the interests of the public. In some areas of England, residents elect a mayor directly who are executives that decide for the cities.
All mayors in England are elected for four years, and no mayor is elected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland and Northern Ireland have devolved governments, but they do not introduce a selected mayor system. The local councils in England can hold a referendum on introducing a directly elected mayor. In Wales, one local referendum has been held to date.
What Does a Governor Do in the US?
But in the US, every state has a governor who is the state’s chief executive officer. The governors are responsible for executing laws and supervising the process of the executive branch. Governors pursue new policies and programmes by executive orders, executive budgets, legislative proposals, and vetoes. Many governors have the authority to assign state court judges from a list of names submitted by a nominations board. Most governors have the same responsibilities in different states, but the scope of their powers varies.
Moreover, governors approve state budgets and enact state legislations. They confirm executive appointments and have the power to veto. A governor is elected for four years in every state. US gubernatorial elections for electing governors are not held simultaneously in all states.
Governors Could Have Great Power
Governors could choose Gove’s ambitious devolution plan for areas with a population of less than 500,000. This US-style plan for governors gives more negotiating power to the regions with a strong sense of identity. As a result, those places could have more control over their transport and housing matters. This plan will make electing mayors and governors mandatory across England. Not all regions will have a governor. However, the scope of Gove’s plan is a matter of discussion.
If a mayor or a likely governor exercises greater power, it is possible for local leaders to oppose it. Local governments are responsible for a range of vital services for people and businesses. They have the authority to develop services according to the need of local people. The local services they are responsible for are divided between counties, districts, borough or city councils.
Michael Gove’s proposal for US-style governors aims to level up regions of England and decentralise the government’s power. This is an ambitious devolution to elect new US-style governors for some country places. The levelling up department is responsible for helping local areas to grow and create jobs for their people. It also maintains a system of local accountability to assure parliament about the usage of resources by local authorities. But Michael Gove’s plan gives the residents of different regions the opportunity to elect people for posts in local authority areas. It will decentralise political power in the UK, similar to the US.
The US governors represent the state’s interests and execute state laws. The federal government has the power, but the governors are responsible for matters in every state. Nevertheless, in the UK, a US-style governor could reduce Westminster’s power and Americanise its executive power system.