Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nuts, Whole Hazel Nuts

Who's had all the nuts?
No wonder the Chipmunk took such a drubbing in the vote for Labour Deputy Leader. In her first pronouncement in charge of Communities and Local Government she's announced the institution of direct democracy- via ballots- to decide local authority spending priorities:

"I think the world has changed. I think voting every four years and basically handing over responsibility and power to other people and then doing nothing again for four years, I think our democracy is not like that any more."

"My overriding belief is that people are capable of making quite complex difficult decisions, setting priorities, doing trade-offs if they are given the opportunity to do it. I have never believed in a paternalistic society that tells people what is good for them. We are now at a tipping point where there is a political will right across government to devolve power."

Er... Hazel, love... are you the same little chipmunk who's been shacked up with those dreadful Big Government socialists all these years? Are you the same little chipmunk who stands shoulder to kneecap with the anti-democrats- those guys who won't give us a referendum on the latest surrender of freedom to the EU?

Have you been at the Magic Nuts again? What's happened to you?

Of course, we all want more control over our politicos. But it has to be real control embedded in real structural reform. At best, this is just one more nutty (and costly) bit of window dressing that skates round the underlying problem (as Lyons did- see this blog). More likely, it's another of Big Government's Maoist attempts to mobilise angry citizens against backsliding local bureaucrats (see this blog for a previous wheeze to introduce name and shame street justice).

The key problem with local government, and the key reason voters are so disengaged, is that over 80% of local authority tax revenue comes from central government. He who pays the piper always calls the tune, however much they try to disguise it with flim-flam like this.

As we've blogged many times, Britain has just about the most centralised top-down system of local government finance anywhere in the developed world.

What we desperately need is real fiscal decentralisation, so that once again, councils can only spend money on stuff if local taxpayers are prepared to fund it.

That would soon make inroads into that paternalistic society Hazel's so worried about.

No comments:

Post a Comment