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?