Sunday, 13 January 2008

"Let me give you another example..."

Wendy was in full swing on the Politics Show on Sunday. "Let me give you another example..." she constantly told both Glenn Campbell & John Sopel. Her message was simple, the freeze to the Council Tax that the SNP and (the Labour chair of) COSLA is BAD. More democracy for local authorities - many of which are Labour run - is BAD. You can't trust your locally elected representatives to spend your money wisely. No, they'll forget all about the most needy in society - repeatedly for Wendy "vulnerable two year olds, battered women and the elderly".

No I have no problem with delivering services to those identified by Wendy as needy. Indeed, I agree with her that they deserve the funding that they receive. But where I disagree is that they deserve a block grant. Let me qualify that. Local authorities are the lowest level of democracy we have - and I don't mean that in a bad way. They're the closest to the people. Effectively, they should know best which areas in their authority require more funding. And if there are charities such as Help the Aged or Woman's Aid who employ people specifically to lobby their representatives for funding for their particular interest, then they should have the confidence in their employees and their interest that it deserves the funding it should get.

In other words, it's a democratic system. Let the councillors do the job that they are paid to do - make the hard decisions.

By the way, another quote from Wendy on the show (at 36 mins 20 secs on the film):
"Devolution was never about staving off the SNP, it was about what is right. Around the world you see examples of people wanting to live in larger organisations, larger countries... there is a desire in Scotland not only to take responsibility for ourselves but also to be more accountable to ourselves and that I think is something which will find resonance in the rest of the United Kingdom."

Right... just speculating on what that means. Maybe if we're "taking responsibility for ourselves" we shouldn't let Charlie Gordon take the blame for our mistakes? And if this "will find resonance in the rest of the UK" should Mr Hain and Ms Harman maybe start looking out their P45s?


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