As a mark of just how far things have come for the stagnant old parties' efforts to find a USP that keeps them on the same centreground, Mary Riddell comments on Labour's tentative moves to explore Localism. They say it's more than Localism, but it doesn't seem to be - it's hardly the same creature as that described by Simon Jenkins in Big Bang Localism, and developed by Helena Kennedy's Power Inquiry. The difficulty is that Localism is completely incompatible with the one-size-fits-all, command and control Central State at the heart of Socialist dogma.
Don't worry. Miliband no more intends to erode the powers exercised by Brussels, Whitehall and Westminster than Cameron did with his spectacular 'Localism Lite' - which after a great deal of sound and fury gave villagers the right to, er, run their own village hall.
No, Labour, like the Tories, are simply looking to sell the alternatives necessary to rein back spending on Welfare. Labour's Localism is little more than enabling the institutionalisation of Food Banks - and extending this to the care of the elderly in a sort of 'adopt a granny' scheme.
Miliband has thrown in the idea at an early stage of devolving State spending to the lowest possible level only to allow this to be rapidly killed by Balls. Spending is funded by tax, and the only tax that's even partially decided at local level is Council Tax - just 5% of the State's tax take. And as Council Tax is capped and regulated by the State, it's fair to say that 100% of tax in the UK is set and levied at a national level. Having a power to spend without having a power to tax isn't Localism - it's just being the milk monitor, handing out Labour's pre-determined ration of State goods. And you can be sure that Labour will condition the milk monitor's job with a plethora of restrictions to ensure that the other central tenet of Socialism, enforced equality of outcome, is maintained.
If either Miliband or Cameron declared that they intended to devolve all taxation decisions (except those relating to defence, the courts, diplomacy and other essential national-level functions) to local level in the Swiss manner then I'd listen. But they won't.