Tuesday, 23 March 2010

First class telly

The best of last night's telly wasn't the unedifying spectacle of former ministers pimping themselves like Portsmouth brutes, promising a fake PR company a good time in return for £3k a day, thereby confirming that politics is indeed a profession, and the oldest one to boot. No, the best was the preceding hour, and Anthony Seldon's take on 'trust'.

For Simon Jenkins, doyen of Localism, it must have been a busy time. Documentaries are like buses - nothing for ages, then two come along at the same time. First, Portillo's take on mending our broken democracy on Saturday, then Bliar's erstwhile biographer Seldon last night.

The answer that Jenkins gently steered both men towards was the same; only a mass devolution of power from Whitehall to village hall will restore faith and trust in democracy. This is fast becoming something of a revealed truth, lacking only the revisionist backlash docu promoting central Statism as the best way forward, with Gordon Brown and Ed Balls speaking in support.

Localism, it seems, is going mainstream. When I started this blog back in 2007 to promote Localism and condemn the loathsome political class, the former was something a bit cranky; the recommendations of the first 'Power' enquiry, a seminal paper on big-bang Localism by Simon Jenkins and a few academic essays, and a few bloggers. Then Hannan and Carswell published a neat little book that embraced Localist principles, and finally Dave now includes it in his speeches although it's clear that as yet neither Eric or the rest of team Cameron know what it is. Still, progress indeed.

BBC iPlayer links for both programmes below

Michael Portillo: Power to the People
Anthony Seldon: Trust politics


Robert said...

There can be no localism without a withdrawl from the EU. Already our local MP seems to spend most of his time trying to do the local council's work as he has none since all our laws now come from Brussels.

Dave of course may repatriate some powers if the other 26 agree. What do you think his chances of getting agreemnet are? Gordon couldn't get a reduction on the VAT for energy efficient light bulbs.

Tamianne said...

Thanks for these links. I watched both programmes today and found them politically balanced and uplifting which I didn't expect.

About the Europe thing. France is also part of the EU, but they still seem to maintain a lot of power at local level. A French teacher recently told me (in relation to the EU issue) that France has the biggest graveyard for legislation, so why can't we be a bit more like them?

Personally, I don't really like the idea of being completely out of Europe, because I want the opportunity to move there easily if things become unbearable here.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Having only watched the Portillo prog - one thing that struck me was the absence of any discussion of the role of public servants.

I doubt that I'm alone in shuddering involuntarily at the idea of localism implimented with our present incumbent population of incompetent municipal parasites.

There are obviously some competent folk but it seems , lets say - quite rare that a coucil is complimented on it's common sense, effective approach by anyone "outside the loop" - self regard is what they have in spades and what they spend piles of our money on PR attempting to bolster their image.

The absolutely stultifying obsession on process at the cost of (non) delivery is the present hallmark of our public servants - localism maybe - but the concept needs refinement big time. These folk are past masters of efficiency reorganisations that are quite the opposite of what it says on the tin.

Anonymous said...

Haven't yet seen Mr. Portillo's prog - have just set the machine - and have purchased the famous 'little book', but am yet to read it.

It seems that 'localism' is understood in concept by my strongly-Tory new Unitary Authority, and my Parish Council are trying hard to take on some of that, but are being fought tooth and nail by 'silo' Highways officers with Devolved Powers - 'The Power To Say 'No', But Without The Authority To Say 'Yes!' - and with a very different agenda.

At the local level, losing out on Localism is not an option. Our kids live here....