Friday, September 11, 2009

 

Labour Surrendering Policy Initiative on 'Localism' to Tories

It rather worries me, as a lifelong Labour voter, when I find myself agreeing with a Conservative idea, especially when one of its progenitors is the loathsome Daniel Hannan. Along with Douglas Carswell(see linked article), he proposes a major devolution of power for local government, he suggests counties and cities should have the same powers as the Scottish parliament and replace VAT with a local sales tax which would finance the local stratum anew. The argument is that local governmnent is much more efficient than central administration and that local people know what they want rather more accurately than Whitehall's 'malevolent quill drivers'. Moreover, with government closer to the people, this would help rebuild trust.

I have long supported such a move and believed that government should be much more local than it is with a much bigger proportion of funding for services raised locally. Simon Jenkins has also banged this drum and today invokes the localism of Scandinavia where so many services were devolved in the 1980s to the local level with great success:

'Denmark's localised health service is amoung the most popular in Europe.'

Jenkins points out that instead of moving towards localism our systems, even the devolved Celtic fringe ones, have been accruing more power to the centre and accelerating the decline of trust.

Labour used to be the party which colonised urban local government last century but now it stands bereft of power locally and seems set to repeat the trick centrally as well. It's depressing to see the Tories move in to suggest radical new ideas in an area which properly Labour should be addressing.

Comments:
Have a close look at the General Powers of Competence legislation being prepared, and whic Cameron has said at the LGA conference he'd introduce within weeks of getting in, and you'll be less supportive, more absolutely bloody horrified at the Trojan Horse that it is.

The tory localism is about putting the powers to reduce massively local government spending and services at legal arms' length.

I've written on this at some length at http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2009/09/04/a-dismal-prospect-for-local-government-the-local-the-logic-the-legal-the-left/ and spoken to the New Local Government Network about it. I imagine Gerry Stoker is currently weighing up the best way to manage a massive u-turn there (they supported it initially) while retaining what's left of his reputation for integrity in matters of local government.
 
sounds about right for a Tory government.
 
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