Big Ben(edict) – for whom the bell tolls?
And all this on the day when the CLG Select Committee published a damning report on the back of its Balance of Power Inquiry. Yes, we’ve made little progress to curb our centralist tendencies. Yes, too often local government’s alleged deficiencies are made the business of our members of parliament. In the current democratic crisis, this model no longer works. All on yesterday’s panel talk a good game on localism. So does the report. You could argue that its timing is appalling, given the media attention on the expenses scandal and the effect on our national psyche. Local politicians campaigning on the doorstep will pay for national politicians’ mistakes. As nationally, local political futures will change because of it. However, with a strong local mandate, councillors and local government can make the tangible difference to peoples’ lives, far away from the Westminster bubble. The report states this case strongly, as does the LGiU.
As I descended into the tube, Big Ben struck eight deep, ominous gongs. The immediate future is undeniably bleak. We won’t change minds tomorrow, nor by June 4th, perhaps not anytime soon, but localism really is the best chance we’ve got of reconnecting with a severely cynical electorate.