Political organization is about power, and so territories and their government are typically complicated as a result of brute force and inevitable compromises with powerful interests,
Here is an ultra-brief analysis of the UK with much of the complexity removed.
The UK is part of the European Union. The urge to create a single state (United States of Europe) is strenuously resisted in the UK. If it went through, then the members would probably be the UK, not the UK itself. England would then probably have its own Regional Government (or be subdivided), and Westminster would disappear. This possibility is not enthusiastically welcomed by the political elites.
The UK has always had ill-defined constituent states based on conquest: hence «United» in the name. So a tier ofhas always been a theoretical possibility.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland arewith distinct (sub-)cultures. In recent times, they finally obtained their own Legislative Bodies: the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. The websites for the Scottish and Welsh bodies use their own languages (Gaelic, Welsh) as well as English.
England, however, does not divide up readily in terms of political territories.
London is a major capital city with about 8 million people, and could (in common with other major capitals) be treated as its own. At present (2012) there is a Greater London Authority, but its powers are greatly limited. London is so important and financially successful, that giving it genuine autonomy from the national government would be extremely painful for the egos of national politicians.
Cornwall has its own language, intense local pride, and views itself as an. However, central government seems to chip away at the identity by removing control of services on administrative grounds (e.g. greater efficiency). If England became an , it would also use London as its capital, and so politicians in national government would feel gutted.
For geographical and historical reasons, local government has mainly been a creature of central government, defined and re-defined and re-defined again by legislation.
This has worked against the appreciation of genuine community realities by central officials. The interests of the centre are invariably pre-eminent. The recent commitment to unitary authorities (i.e. only one tier of local government, rather than two) was a major step forward in terms of recognition of the importance of local identity.
In general, UK local government accepts an «agent of central government» role if it means an expansion of its responsibilities and finances, rather than a contraction. Parties (and factions within them) vary in the degree to which an agency role appeals. The particular issue under consideration may also affect enthusiasm for acting as an agent.
For any particular national policy, different local councils may be supportive, opposing or apathetic. National Government often finds that informal methods of persuasion are insufficient and must be bolstered.
Formal actions include:
These exist according to local preference and with varying degrees of enthusiasm and local government support. This is a fascinating tier with a wide variety of arrangements.
Originally posted: August-2009; Last updated: 15-Nov-2010