An Unnecessary Role

embracing false choices

Local government is not the solution to the hacking scandal

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Ok, the title is a bit of a joke, linked to the tendency of local government evangelists like myself to herald every crisis of legitimacy within the British establishment with another thousand words on how local government is the solution to the nation’s ills.

Somebody on Twitter (forgive me for forgetting who) likened the last couple of years to The Wire, as first the financial system, Parliamentary probity and then the reputation of the news media are exposed for what they are. Asked at a staff event last year to predict the results of local and general elections I noted that the crisis of trust that had enveloped the political and financial system meant the response of the public at large was unpredictable, and I think the resulting hung parliament and huge regional variation in election results (see: Labour success in London)  bore that out.

The damage that has been done to public institutions has left us with a public sphere burdened with great uncertainty, made all the more febrile by radical reform to and dramatic reductions in the size of the state. This is a difficult environment for local democracy to flourish in. People do not trust national or local politicians to deliver for them, but nor do they trust them to genuinely devolve power. If the fall of News International shows what happens when too much power goes bad, the lack of trust engendered by it means dispersing power is an ever more difficult task.


Written by samelliot

July 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Localism

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