Responsibility Without Power

We are grateful to an MK blogger in Penzance for a careful analysis of what the Coalition’s pseudo-localism means in practice. It amounts to devolving the running of services, and the making of cuts to them, without devolving the money that used to pay for them. Local politicians get the blame for the consequences, while central government lies back, puts its feet up, and passes the money saved to the bankers as interest on imaginary debts.

We can see this scenario developing as follows. Public services are increasingly channelled through local councils, co-operating sub-regionally for economies of scale. Safeguards will be put in place against communities interpreting localism literally. One is to privatise and outsource actual provision to the multi-nationals, to break any link between the services provided and a sense of local identity. (Welcome to McSchool.) Another is to prevent sub-regional co-operation going regional, that is to say, accumulating at a geographical scale large enough to threaten those in power. You do that by insisting that, while the Thames Valley or the South Coast Metropole may be real enough, ‘obviously’ Berkshire has nothing at all in common with Dorset. (But identifying with England is OK, despite it being five times bigger than Wessex, because TPTB have that one sewn up.)

Meanwhile, we continue to pay our taxes to London but get fewer and fewer services in return. In short, we prop up an insolvent regime. Until the happy day we choose to repudiate it and all its works.

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