This article is by the Editorial Chairman
and co-founder of 'The Week' Jeremy O'Grady.
Rumour has it that the local elections were held across much of the country last week, but if so I missed them.
I knew there were elections of course they just didn't feel like local ones: they were everywhere treated as a verdict on Westminster politics.
Would Johnson be punished for Partygate?
Would Starmer make headway?
No talk of the distinctive policies made by this or that council; no focus on Aspires remarkable triumph in Tower Hamlets. Yet how else could it be?
So nationalised, so beholden to decisions made in Westminster/Whitehall has our politics grown, that local goernment is now a cipher. And does that matter?
In all sorts of ways I think it does, though one example will have to suffice: the selection of academy trusts to run local schools. The Department for Education is currently pushing for one such trust to take over the school my child attends (Holland Park in London).That could involve it forming a trust with a highly regarded school nearby, the option desired by the local council and many parents.
The other option, favoured by the DfE, is for it to join a big national trust: far easier to deal with. So the DfE has quietly appointed to the school a clutch of compliant governors (none from the locality) who've duly rubber- stamped its wishes. And as local government has no say in the matter, and there's no other legitimised way of registering local preference, anyone protesting their decision is easily dismissed as vexatious. The idea of local representation was once seen as a fundamental plank of democracy, In Britain, that plank has rotted.
Our second demand 'Real Local Democracy' addresses this issue and makes local democracy count again by decentralising power down to the counties and districts and thus reducing the size of central government.