This is an interesting use of the word \”localism\”

Obese and other unhealthy people could be monitored to check whether they are taking exercise and have their benefits cut if they fail to do so under proposals published on Thursday by a Conservative-run council and a local government thinktank.

Westminster council and the Local Government Information Unit say new technologies such as smart cards could be used to track claimants\’ use of leisure centres, allowing local authorities to dock housing and council benefit payments from those who refuse to carry out exercise prescribed by their GP.

True, it is local councils that will be doing this, not central government.

The report, A Dose of Localism: the Role of Councils in Public Health, precedes the transfer in April of responsibility for community wellbeing and public health from the NHS to local authorities.

But I can\’t say that a good dose of health Stalinism is quite what we\’d all hoped for from \”localism\” really.

How long before the mandatory early morning exercises in the local park while singing The Red Flag?

30 thoughts on “This is an interesting use of the word \”localism\””

  1. > But I can’t say that a good dose of health Stalinism is quite what we’d all hoped for from “localism” really.

    Devolution of power is great until people do things with it you don’t like.

  2. “responsibility for community wellbeing”

    Shudder. Localism means the authoritarian wanker wanting to rule every aspect of your life now lives in the next street instead of far away in London.

  3. Oh how time flies, it seems like only a few weeks ago that some of us were pointing out that giving benefits recipients special cards so that they could only spend those benefits on state-approved things would start us on a slippery slope to this kind of madness. ‘Don’t be silly’ came the responses.. this is just a reasonable measure to prevent benefit claimants from abusing the public purse.. not the next chapter in the inexorable rise of the puritans.

    No, wait, it WAS only a few weeks ago.

  4. What TTG said. More evidence, as if it were needed, that Conservatives and conservatives can be just as big a bunch of statist bastards as any socialist. Personally I didn’t hope for anything from localism as the only intention was to devolve a tiny bit of power from Big to Little Brother.

  5. William M Connelly-

    Devolution of power is great until people do things with it you don’t like.

    Which is why I think a proper libertarian doesn’t support political localism. These powers should not be available to the State at any level, from central government down to parish councils. A free society is not one where the tyranny is local, it is one in which it does not exist at all.


    The Thought Gang @4


  6. Maybe there’s a flaw here, but won’t it just prove where the smart card is, and what it’s doing? Not where the obese person is, and what they’re doing?

  7. JuliaM

    Don’t worry. When the fuckers work that out they’ll simply fit everyone with heart-rate monitors based on criminal ‘tagging’ technology. And implant GPS chips into all benefit claimants (the definition of which will be widened to include all those who avail themselves of state services, such as the NHS, roads, etc).

    They’re only thinking of the children.

  8. I lad I knew at university used to joke that there should be a National Hoop through which all citizens must fit, with the fatties being carted off…well, somewhere. We seem to be edging closer towards this policy.

  9. I just know that once granted these new powers, our County Council will recruit yet another squad of big fat bossy middle-aged women with clipboards called Joyce (the women, not the clipboards). And their salaries and pensions will drive the council tax even higher.
    We should go back to those old fashioned wood or coal fires. You can get rid of all kinds of incriminating evidence like chip paper, pizza boxes, bacon rind. Once Joyce orders the bin men to keep a record of everything they find in your bin, you will need a covert alternative.

  10. “William M Connelly-

    Devolution of power is great until people do things with it you don’t like.”

    Just for once, maybe Mr Connolley ( with the ‘e’) has a point there Ian. But that depends on whether your a practical libertarian or one of the theoretical, intellectual libertarians.
    If a libertarian community is going to support its less productive members, what’s wrong with putting conditions on that support. Especially if the conditions are intended to reduce the burden on the community.
    It’s on issues like this I tend to part with a lot of you on how I see libertarianism. I can’t see how you can have practical libertarianism without a considerable degree of collectivism. Like minded people getting together to protect & ensure their joint liberties. But those actual liberties are going to depend on what they’re like minded about. And such communities are inevitably going to be a lot more intrusive about the behaviour of their members. If you don’t have a big State with the power to force redistribution & are going to rely on voluntarianism, then the beneficiaries can’t have a big State to hind behind when it comes to meeting their obligations.

  11. BIS-

    My own view on this is that I don’t see Libertarianism the way most Libertarians do, I think, currently. I’ve said in a couple of places I’m not even sure I am one, by the standards of most other libertarians. I’d prefer another word.

    Ultimately, you’ll only get a society of liberty if the people in it are, basically, non-intefering individualists. That’s the kind of society I want to live in. To me, millions of authoritarian communities isn’t liberty. It might be “non-statist”, but that’s no use to me. Not if I want liberty. Liberty is a relationship between the individual and whatever collective he is part of- his State, his church, his employment, his gardening club. A libertarian relationship is one with minimal interference in the individual by the collective.

    So a radical localism, in which everyone’s living in authoritarian communities, isn’t liberty.

    So the point is, when you talk of “putting conditions” on people, a libertarian- or better, an individualist- doesn’t want to. He minimises his interference in others. A libertarian offering charity doesn’t say, “well, here’s some bread and water, now you’re my bitch, suck it up”, he tries to avoid that kind of petty fascism. If he doesn’t feel that way, he’s a localist authoritarian, not a libertarian.

  12. Or, another way to put it, is that the kind of person who wants to force dole claimants to exercise has something wrong in the head.

  13. I somehow doubt that the cost of attending a “leisure centre” will be brought down to match those from a run, walk or cycle. I don’t see how these could be monitored. Therefore the ones with money to burn walking or running on a treadmill, or cycling on machine will not suffer any cuts, and those who make use of the free (and much more interesting) road will be penalised. That is, everyone gets penalised one way or another.
    Sounds more like a means of helping leisure centres than a means of helping the poor!

  14. I think you miss the point, Ian. Place where I buy my favourite cheese is Mont des Cats. Flemish for just what it sounds like. Guys who make it are Trappist monks. Charming people but not the word’s greatest conversationalists. I couldn’t live their life because I don’t like Catholicism, wouldn’t entertain a vow of chastity & enjoy a natter. But no-one’s asking me to. No-one’s asking them to either. If any of them wanted to walk away to a life of fornication & stand up comedy they could do just that. But they stay because of the rules, not despite them. And if I did want to join them, I’d have to abide by the rules. That place, to me, is the closest I’ve ever seen to a truly libertarian community.
    What you’re talking about is intellectual libertarianism. Unless you’re considering homesteading some piece of the wilderness, it’s parasitic. It’s no different from intellectual socialists like Polly T wanting both equality & the Tuscan villa.
    A society of nothing but individualists wouldn’t survive a week let alone a winter. People have to work together to achieve things & to collaborate you have to have a rule structure. If you want to see what happens if you don’t, pop over & I can take you & show you.* Bunch of hippies in a valley up in the Alpajarras. Last time I dropped by, they’d got the living standards down to below medieval peasants. Subsisting on UK benefit payments & begging in the local town.
    The local authoritarian communities you’re disparaging would only look authoritarian from the outside. From the inside they’d look like people living the way they want to, by their own standards. Which is what you want, isn’t it?

  15. BIS, there is no reason individualists cannot work together. The point is, individualists don’t interfere unnecessarily with each other, and tend to put a high burden of proof on “necessary”. One way to put it is; individualists seek the smallest possible ruleset. Authoritarians seek the largest one.

    To use a simplistic example, an individualist workplace, everyone would work to some common goal by whatever they consider the best strategy. But there wouldn’t be rules about, say, what you wear or your hairstyle, or things like that. An authoritarian one says you have to wear a blue suit and no beards and moustaches, and makes you sing a company song to prove you’re loyal. That kind of thing.

    I’m not talking “intellectual libertarianism” at all. Indeed, I think the biggest problem with libertarians is a tendency to argue about anarch0-capitalist whatnottery while disappearing up our own arses. My bottom line is really very moderate and pragmatic; what I really seek is just an England with the stupid, unnecessary rules like, you can’t buy a beer after 11pm and have to strap your offspring into State approved childseats. It’s not an implausible intellectual vision. It’s certainly more mainstream than everyone living in isolated micro-states.

    Just go through the statute book with a knife. Say, we don’t need this one, cut it out. We don’t need this one. Cut it out. That’s all I want. Not a choice of microtyrannies. None of that precludes anyone working together. I don’t see how you make that leap.

  16. Ian. All you’re describing their is a society with rules you agree with. What about people whose preferences are different from yours? All those statutes you want to rip out were put in place because somebody wanted them. So what about their preferences?
    Far as I’m concerned, if someone wants a business where everyone wears blue suits, no facial hair & sings the company song….go for it. Your business, your rules.
    Ian. Perhaps I see things differently because I’ve been doing this stuff for the past 30 years. Our building business used to work like it. Everyone on the job’s a free agent. But some basic rules. We’re here to get the job done. We’re a team, not individuals. Electrician’s got a drill in his hand & the plumber needs a hole, electrician drills the hole. Delivery arrives – if need be, we all unload the lorry. My job? What I used to tell the guys. My job’s to make it happen. So you don’t work for me, I’m working for you. So we all make money. Those were the rules. Anyone didn’t like it & a lot of people didn’t, we got rid of them.
    Let’s look at one of your “stupid unnecessary rules” “you can’t buy a beer after 11pm ”
    Pal of mine runs a bar in the town. Plays some pretty good music. Law here says he has to shut 2am, 3 am weekends. Fair enough. It’s a holiday town but even holiday makers need some sleep. let alone the people live in the apartments above the bar. Would you want people chatting & laughing under your bedroom window all of a hot summer night? So the town’s got rules.
    What I’m in favour is getting the rules being made down as close to the people who have to live by them, as possible. After that, they can have what rules they like. If I don’t want to live by them I won’t go there.
    Ever been to Frinton? Only town I know doesn’t have a pub. Local by-laws meant you could only get a drink in the hotel. Their choice. Hopefully, some law hasn’t been used to force them to allow pubs because that mightn’t have been their choice.

  17. IanB: “I’m not even sure I am one, by the standards of most other libertarians. I’d prefer another word.”

    Welcome to the libertines! We can always use a man of your talents. 😉

  18. Surprisingly, for a bunch of libertarians, you guys miss the point that some freedoms administered by the state come at the expense of others. By a million country miles, the two biggest infringements of liberty in this country are
    – the amount of tax that is taken (from some of us) on our freely-earned income
    – the amount of crime that we suffer, or have to protect and insure oursleves against

    So if Eric Pickles exercises his freedom to eat all the pies and die prematurely, that’s one thing. I believe he pays significant tax at the higher-rate, and is likely to continue doing so. His freedom is also my freedom, although I make different choices.

    Benefit claimants, on the other hand, are already the most colossal infringers of my civil liberty – because I pay their tab. Damn right I (or my paid agents, in this case the doctor) get some say in how they can spend my money.

    To put it another way, it’s a mistake to apply a libertarian paradigm in a socialist setting. Those receiving largesse in the socialist part of our economy must accept the state coercion that logically and historically goes with it. That way there’s some hope of people realising that freedom is capitalism, socialism is oppression.

  19. To put it another way, it’s a mistake to apply a libertarian paradigm in a socialist setting.

    What a pity you spent your preceding paragraphs doing just that then.

    It’s also interesting how, when you want to justify this bizarre form of nastiness, the State doctor’s cartel suddenly become “your agents”. That’s awfully libertarian of you. I mean really, it’s like a shining libertarian star, blazing in the firmament of libertarianism.

  20. Sorry Ian but you really don’t get this, do you? There is nothing libertarian about being forced to fund benefit payments against one’s will. You want to give people benefits with no strings attached. Fair ’nuff. You’re obviously a charitable guy. Others might not be so charitable. Why are you forcing your moral choices on them?
    There’s nothing neo-Puritanical in applying conditions to giving people money. Guy comes out a games arcade. Asks you to give him a tenner so he can go back & play the bandit. You going to give it to him? Unless you’re an idiot, did your answer make you a latter day Methodist?

  21. BIS, I do get it.

    It’s “neo-puritanical” when the conditions are abitrarily puritanical. That is separate from the issue of whether welfare should exist at all (and also separate from the question of whether a long-term taxpayer temporarily receiving benefits is really a sponger living off other people).

    The question is the imposition of arbitrary rules. Say, for instance, “if you’re on benefits, you can’t be actively gay”. This would be obviously ridiculous. The issue wouldn’t be whether the recipient should accept the terms of his benefits. The question would be, what is motivating somebody to make this stupid rule?

    They are different issues.

    There is nothing libertarian about welfare. But in the real world situation of living in a welfare state, which is where we actually live, not in Libertopia, there is nothing libertarian about being arbitrarily nasty to benefits recipients either.

    Consider this; “everyone benefits claimant must wear an identifying armband, and taxpayers will be legally entitled to punch them in the nose if they want”. Would you support that? I sincerely hope not. But it doesn’t violate your opinion that arbitrary strings may be attached to benefits; so, we have to judge it on another criterion. The one I recommend myself is the “avoiding cuntishness principle”.

  22. I’ve had to reconsider Localism which as a advocate if direct democracy seemed appropriate. As a Libertarian I can’t see any advantage and can even envisage a global night-watchman state as the natural corollary of Libertarianism.

  23. Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab
    inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had
    to tell someone!

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