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The Times calls for ‘more powerful local government’

May 22, 2009

There is an excellent Leader column in the Times this morning.  I don’t agree with all the finer points, but it is good to see others joining us in saying that decentralisation is one of the important ways in which we can rebuild our democracy and restore the body politic to health after the MPs expenses scandal.   Extract below:

At a time when people are disillusioned with politics it seems counter-intuitive to offer them more of it. Yet that is what is required by the need to make a closer connection between voters and what they are voting for.

One of the main reasons why people are dis-illusioned with politicians and reluctant to vote is that they feel that voting and changing politicians doesn’t change much. The old Left joke — “if voting changed anything, they’d abolish it” — has begun to seem less amusing. And the intuition of voters is correct. Politicians are able to change less than they let on.

A vast centralised NHS, numerous quangos and countless local police forces make policy without much reference to politicians or voters. The electorate needs to win back the franchise.

More powerful local government, locally elected police chiefs, locally accountable health services and political leaders should seek to reconnect political decision-making with the services that are delivered. At the same time, both locally and nationally there should be greater use of referendums. And government should not monopolise the right to call one.

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