In a speech to Labour’s local government conference he will quash an idea floated by Tristram Hunt, the former shadow education secretary, arguing that decentralisation would be better than the creation of a parliament for England.
In a speech on the subject this week, in which he suggested putting the English parliament idea to a referendum, Hunt said: “I want the English to experience the same kind of democratic awakening as we have seen in Scotland.”
But Watson, who has recently returned from a four-day trip to Scotland, will say that the clear message he got from voters there, “particularly those who voted ‘yes’ in the referendum, was that they feel too much power already resides in London”. He will argue that an English parliament would not solve that problem “because too much power would still lie in Whitehall”.
He will say: “Those who seek an English parliament risk loosening the ties that bind our countries together – perhaps for good. They are giving up on Britain. And if there’s one thing I’m sure about it’s this: Labour must never give up on Britain. Because if Labour gives up on Britain, Britain could give up on us.”
Instead Watson will argue that the party should promote decentralisation, saying his instinct would be “to create a more federal structure”.
In his speech to the conference Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, will also promote decentralisation, saying a Labour government would stop councils being forced to contract out services and give them new powers to take utilities into local control.
“After a generation of forced privatisation and outsourcing of public services, the evidence has built up that handing services over to private companies routinely delivers poorer quality, higher cost, worse terms and conditions for the workforce, less transparency and less say for the public,” Corbyn will say.
“We will give councils greater freedoms to roll back the tide of forced privatisation. It locks people out of decision-making, makes services less accountable, too often means a bad deal for taxpayers, a bad deal for communities and a bad deal for workers too.
“That’s what’s been happening across Europe – where scores of cities across our continent have been taking water, energy and other services back into local public ownership.”
This article was written by Andrew Sparrow Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Friday 5th February 2016 22.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010