This is great

The cowardly state is the exact opposite of the Courageous State that I described in my 2011 book with that title. What happens in the cowardly state is that a neoliberal politician, obsessed by centralised macroeconomic control of the economy and a desire to shrink the state at all costs so long as it has limited impact upon their own political fortunes, will close, privatise, outsource and simply abandon public services where anyone but they can be blamed for this happening with an indifference as to the consequence that is profoundly sociopathic.

I would argue that this is exactly what has happened to local government since 2010. The impact of austerity has been offloaded by central government onto local authorities. Sixty per cent of central government funding for local services has been lost over that period.

So, those obsessed by centralised macroeconomic control decentralise economic control over local services and funding.

This is bad.

Ho hum, that expansion of the universities was a bad idea, wasn’t it?

This is not a situation that is easy to reverse, for all sorts of reasons. Good people are not attracted to be councillors when the rewards are low and the prospect of failure, for which you may well feel a personal responsibility even if that is inappropriate, is high.

Councillors used to be unpaid. Now they’re paid. The quality has gone up, has it?

Whilst funding, borrowing and the governance of local government have all to be reimagined to make sure that they are fit for purpose,

How about local people pay the local taxes they wish to have in order to pay for the local services they desire?

12 comments on “This is great

  1. How about local people pay the local taxes they wish to have in order to pay for the local services they desire?

    Sounds great in theory. However, property transaction taxes (I’m looking at you Stamp Duty) need to be disposed of to create a proper market for areas to live in by reducing barriers to moving.
    Not as much point saving £500 per year tax if moving will cost you £5000 in stamp duty alone. Plus all the other costs of moving…

  2. Cherny,

    Alternatively, let each town / village / neighbourhood vote to change council, if they’re on the border with another. The good folk of Chiswick (Hounslow council, £1,546/yr for band D) might vote to join a neighbouring borough (Hammersmith & Fulham, £1,082).

    Careful what you wish for though. You’d end up with e.g. much of outer London voting to join the Home Counties, leaving inner London a permanent socialist fiefdom.

  3. a neoliberal politician, obsessed by centralised macroeconomic control of the economy and a desire to shrink the state at all costs

    Does he even read the nonsense he writes? It doesn’t even make logical sense, before you even get to whether you agree with it or not. Contradictory bollocks.

  4. Obviously hoping there may be some money in government coffers to shake loose so avoided bringing up Thatcher directly to avoid alienating conservatives, but enough dog whistles in there for the left

  5. I certainly didn’t become a local councillor for the money. I became a councillor because nobody else was prepared to pay me to work, but that’s another matter. Nobody in their right mind would see a 40-hour week for 8 grand as an aspiration.

    Paying councillors hasn’t changed the mix of elected councillors. What it has done is allow dead wood councillors in rock hard safe seats to stick around year after year after year padding out their pension, and working people with well-padded salaries to play councillor and get paid for it, usually kicking out those for whom the councillor’s wages are their sole income. There seems to be a high correlation between useless councillors who if they lose their seat they just go back to their well-paid day non-job vs good councillors who lose their seat and what they have to do is sign on the dole.

  6. “How about local people pay the local taxes they wish to have in order to pay for the local services they desire?” Democracy in local government? The world would end! And what proportion of council spending is mandated by central government anyway. Just suppose that local people decide that recycling is an expensive scam that does little for the environment, how’s that going to work out?

    “Careful what you wish for though. You’d end up with e.g. much of outer London voting to join the Home Counties, leaving inner London a permanent socialist fiefdom.” Would anyone notice any change from the present?

  7. The bloke wouldn’t last 5 minutes in any local government job.

    Before I got banned over there I used to tease him to get a job at his local council – to educate himself on what it’s really like.

    Doesnt want to touch it. I suspect he knows his ill informed prejudices would be burst. (Not that everything in local government is bad – it is just not what is widely reported).

  8. “. . . obsessed by centralised macroeconomic control of the economy. . . ”

    “. . . and a desire to shrink the state at all costs . . . ”

    He can’t even write a single sentence without contradicting himself. People who are obsessed with centralized ‘macroeconomic’ control of the economy are not going to support shrinking the state – quite the opposite since it would be a large, powerful state that would allow them the power to centralize control of the economy.

  9. Councillors used to be unpaid. Now they’re paid. The quality has gone up, has it?

    When they were unpaid it was better – no empire building, extravagent pojects, delusions of grandeur etc. They restricted themselves to doing the mininum required to keep things running, then back to their real job.

    .
    @Cherny @Andrew M

    +1

    What did nice Chiswick do to be punished by being sent to Hounslow?

  10. ‘abandon public services where anyone but they can be blamed for this happening with an indifference as to the consequence that is profoundly sociopathic.’

    What does he mean by ‘public services?’ Free stuff? Of course, it’s NOT FREE. Someone else is paying for it.

    It would be ‘profoundly sociopathic’ to cut off stuff that someone else is paying for. Government should focus on losers – the takers – and not the producers.

    Cos governments are organized amongst Men to take their stuff and give it to someone else.

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