Thursday, 2 May 2013
Local (?) Election Campaign
There are no local elections in my area today. It should be the year to elect our county council but it was abolished by Mrs Thatcher. That demagogue for democracy didn't like what the county councils were doing (most had Labour majorities) so she finished them off "at a stroke." The most well-known victim was the Greater London Council (GLC) lead by Ken Livingstone, but all the other Metropolitan County Councils went as well, including ours in West Yorkshire, heir to the great West Riding County Council and its internationally admired Director of Education, Sir Alec Clegg.
So the local election campaigns have more or less passed my by. I missed the BBC's "World at One" interview with Ed Miliband on Monday, in which, when asked, seven times I believe, if cutting VAT now would mean short term increase in borrowing, he failed to answer. He's since admitted that was a mistake.
I caught all of Nick Clegg's interview on Tuesday, in which he batted reasonably well, apart from one reference to "clearing up the mess left behind." At least he didn't say "left behind by Labour" so perhaps that's a useful step in the direction of "left behind by the havoc resulting from the neocon deregulation of the financial markets introduced by the Tories."
I caught the tail end of David Cameron's interview, in which he protested that not all lhis cabinet were "posh boys from Eton" - William Hague went to a comprehensive.
But what have these issues, weighty and otherwise, got to do with local government? In partiular how are local councils, going to continue to provided decent services, some of which they are legally bound to do, whilst bearing the brunt of the austerity cuts imposed on them by Westminster?
These interviews, and most of the media reporting (A Ukip candidate has been sacked for giving what looks like a Nazi salute - he says he was gesturing for his mobile phone) relate to national rather than local issues. Why do our national politicians connive in this? Why don't the party leaders say: "No, the people you should be interviewing about local elections are our leaders on the Local Government Association."?
We shall not get decent local democracy as long as the ego-trippers in the Westmister Bubble highjack the publicity as well as the powers that rightly beong to our local politicians.