Give power back to the peopleby Jon Snow / May 24, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
If I ruled the world, I’d try to recognise my limitations and deal with the local—my family, my community, my local council, my country. I’d hope that by doing so I would inspire others to do the same, and so help construct a more rational world.
Robin Cook described Britain in 1994, as “the most centralised state in Europe.” Nothing much has changed since, despite Scottish and Welsh devolution. I recently travelled to Rome sitting next to an MP who talked to me about his constituency workload. When we dissected his responsibilities, he agreed that local councillors should be dealing with over 80 per cent of what he is doing.
Why are those councillors fuelling MPs’ postbags with issues that should have been resolved at the local level? It is largely because they are powerless, poorly paid (if at all), and almost invariably have a mandate of often well under 30 per cent of those eligible to vote. They are, in any case, subject to the whims and wills of central government and can do little or nothing to resist. Neither they nor we wield much influence on our local lives.