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David Cameron's new green paper talks of a radical Tory localism. But he will find the centralising habit hard to break

By Richard Reeves   April 2009

When Margaret Thatcher sat down with her first cabinet in No 10, one of the agenda items was a plan to free local authorities from Whitehall control. It didn’t quite work out. Thatcher herself recalled that she was soon “forced down the path of still tougher, financial controls, as the inability or refusal of local councils to run services efficiently became increasingly apparent.” Tony Travers at the LSE characterises her reign as an “11-year-long war against local government.”

Today a truce has been declared. David Cameron describes himself as a “confirmed localist.” Thoughtful Tories, like Oliver Letwin, look back to…

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