Britain and Greater Manchester – both torn apart by Margaret Thatcher?

My latest two articles on Beacon have a theme: things torn apart by Margaret Thatcher.

The first is Britain itself, and obviously that has not happened – yet. But if Scotland votes for independence in September, Mrs Thatcher’s decision to test the poll tax in Scotland first will have played a part.

In a piece to mark the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the poll tax in Scotland, I dug out some of the thoughts of Scottish politicians on Baroness Thatcher’s death a year ago:

Former Labour MP and MSP (member of the Scottish Parliament) Dennis Canavan told the BBC: “This was such a blatant injustice – this poll tax – that people then began to see that this could never happen if we had a Scottish Parliament.” And first minister Alex Salmond, the man currently leading the campaign to end Britain in its current form, added that she turned Scotland’s Parliament from a nice idea into “something absolutely essential”, and that her “policies defined a political generation” in Scotland.

Margaret Thatcher would not want to contribute to the end of the Britain. She was happy to end big city authorities, however, most obviously the Greater London Council but also Greater Manchester County Council among others. The difference is that London has been put back together through the Greater London Authority and the mayor, while Greater Manchester is only part of the way there.

It’s very easy to have some fun with the rivalry between Salford and Manchester…

You're not in Manchester any more, Toto
I don’t think we’re in Manchester any more, Toto

…but there is a serious point in that a natural civic unit, the urban area known as Greater Manchester, is currently run by 10 separate local authorities, albeit ones that work closely together through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

As I discuss in my Beacon piece published today, Labour is considering city regional authorities and tax-raising powers for the likes of Greater Manchester; the Conservatives would be well-advised to pinch the idea.

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