Monday, 16 May 2022

Local democracy is a sham.

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.



  1. To my comments on your last article and Jeremy O'Grady's piece, I would add that one of the many problems is that the media is London centric so it reports on everything as seen through the Westminster bubble.

    Another problem is that the local vote makes so little difference to the way the funds are spent as most expenditure is determined by priorities of the centre, ie adult social care and, as this piece highlighted, education. If your vote makes no difference, then why bother?

    I've written before, but I lived for 10 years or so under a system where our vote for local elections affected our pockets directly, as local government paid for education, police, roads etc. If your wallet is affected, you pay attention!

    Even worse, I read that we are about to give over much of our health policy to the WTO! What? How did I ever vote for that?

    So from local to national politics, 'we' are no longer of ANY importance apart from picking up our share of the massive debt flood, when the dam bursts.

  2. Replies
    1. I see the situation as very simple. The further from the people governments are the more corrupt they become therefore real democracy needs 'Real Local Democracy' as covered in our second demand.

      So it is obvious to me that supranational constructs like the EU, UN, IPCC, WHO etc are ALL past their Best Before dates, if they were ever much good compared to intergovernment cooperation, and are also provably corrupt.

    2. I agree with your point. I find it amazing that we have managed to get out from under the dead hand of the EU only for our leaders to consider handing over some policy issues to another supra-national authority.
      Intergovernmental cooperation is the way to go, not giving sovereignty away.

  3. What manifestos are published and what is the local government that if elected can deliver? What is the local executive and legislature?

    1. Good question and the point is with local governments actually raising taxes and governing their counties and districts then party manifestos would be produced and actually matter.

      In Local elections people would be voting for thngs that directly concern them and at General Elections they would be largely voting on matters of national importance.

      The more power is centralised the more corrupt it gets.

    2. Handing tasks to others is the start of misrepresentation or a job not being done as we would want. Hiring a tradesperson to do a simple job can result in us not getting what we want through an honest misunderstanding or lack of communication. We would often get several quotes or ask for references. Yet we hire people to make huge decisions for us and we hardly have any real vetting process. Our pm is a serial liar for example.

    3. "Hardly have any real vetting process" and no method of recall. The analogy with a tradesperson is an especially good one because we have direct control over the money. With politicians it is indirect theft of our money. I tried to get involved with the selection of our local MP by joining the party, briefly, but local members had almost zero say on the selection. It had all been decided centrally in party HQ.

      Today's (Mon 23rd) casting of our money into the ether is £550m, tomorrow's £1bn? A system so out of control is bound to crash. At least that brings a glimmer of hope.

    4. A father of someone I know has dimensia. Trying to gain power of attorney for a man who has mostly lost his marbles is incredibly difficult and expensive. Yet our politicians are handed few powers and with barely any due process. Further they can renege on manifesto commitments, bribe us with our own money and act in the most dishonourable way. How can we compare the two scenarios ?

  4. "How can we compare the two scenarios ?" We cannot. They are becoming more dishonourable by the day.

    I cannot believe that this shower can last until 2024 but with what do we replace it with? Anger is rising. If collapse doesn't happen soon, the chill winds of winter and food shortages will ensure that it does.