A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cameron's Causes

It seems David Cameron is marching on with his ideas. Tough on ideas and tough on the causes of ideas! The latest wheeze to get people back into the Conservative voting fold (actual membership is another matter) is electing the leaders of local government. Lord Heseltine, who heads up Cameron's City Taskforce called for a "massive transfer of power" to local government. Basically, the idea is to get a chief bottlewasher running a city like a corporation. On Saturday, Heseltine was quizzed on the Today programme. When told that most people rejected elected mayors, and that regional assemblies were not popular Heseltine waffled on about democracy. He mentioned low turnout and how his ideas would fix that. Low turnout is due basically to politicians being seen as corrupt and self-serving. Good hard-working local councillors get elected and re-elected, mostly regardless of party. Heseltine seemed to imply that his ideas were good and we are getting them whether we like them or not (always assuming the Tories get in!).

I seem to remember that we've been here before. The Great Grocer hacked our counties about in the name of democracy and we had the Local Government Act of 1972. That gave us wonderful places like Cleveland, Humberside and Avon. In Warwickshire, we had half the county tipped into some called "The West Midlands County" which died a death about twelve years later.

What people want, particularly in England, is accountable local government run by councillors who act in a transparent way. There was nothing wrong with our counties, nothing wrong with our towns, and nothing wrong with our parishes. But they couldn't leave it, could they? In Heseltine's report, he calls for directly elected leaders to serve a four-year fixed term, paid a salary "commensurate with the level of responsibility" and subject to "loose scrutiny" by an elected assembly. That needs scrutiny in itself! Are these leaders going to be anybody, or should they have a suitable CV to go with the job. And what sort of elected assembly are we talking of?

As I say, tough on ideas and tough on the causes of ideas!


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