Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Denounce All Bourgeois Imperialists!

The Beloved Leader and Commissar Da Vinci call on all people to denounce the bourgeois imperialist lackeys and running dogs!
I did wonder if this was a spoof, but it's in the Times so it must be true:

"Doctors, senior police officers and head teachers would be summoned before local select committees to be grilled about local services under the proposals to be announced in a White Paper tomorrow. The committees would then have to publish reports with recommendations, which would be sent to the public body concerned for consideration and possible action."

The idea seems to be to set up "overview and scrutiny" committees of councillors and other interested parties to conduct street trials of failing central government employees, reporting any ideological backsliding up the line to the Central Committee in Beijing.

Apparently, it's all part of a new devolution agenda, meant to re-engage the populace with government, and to get them feeling - despite all the evidence - that they do have some control over what goes on.

Now to the extent this is not just more headline-grabbing wibble, it promises to be a nightmare for any government employee caught in the middle. Among other things, it would make it even harder to recruit headteachers: just like the Cultural Revolution, it could nix a generation.

But the key point is that it highlights how Big Government misses the whole point of localism. It's no good just having another name and shame complaints mechanism reporting back to the Commissars. What we need is to devolve real power. And that means devolving the power to raise the money and spend it according to what local people want.

It's called fiscal decentralisation. And as the following World Bank chart shows, the UK has the lowest proportion of locally financed local government spending of any major OECD country bar Ireland:

The result is an almost total disconnect between the provision and cost of services at the local level. No wonder local electors feel disengaged, and out of the loop.

That's the issue that needs tackling. But of course, asking the Commissars to let go the purse strings is a very BIG ASK indeed. Maybe we need a revolution.

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