Labour's destruction of democracy
One thing that has not had much public comment is the way in which the Labour government have been whittling away at democracy. There are number of areas in which they have done this:
- Corporatism One of Labour's Third Way Ideas is to bring in traditional Corporatism as part of their agenda of governmental reform. I think wikipedia's definition of this is actually quite good. To quote an element from wikipedia "certain unelected bodies take a critical role in the decision-making process"
The introduction of Local Strategic Partnerships is entirely this. Unless the LSP is clearly defined as having an advisory function it starts taking away the discretion primarily of the local authorities, but also starts interfering in parliamentary matters. I will post more about the problems with Birmingham's own citywide LSP which I happen to chair.
- Constraining politicians Local Councillors have been disqualified from being elected for talking to MPs about casework, whilstleblowing about illegal payments by their authority (Lancaster), taking the wrong route out of a dinner (Blackpool) and many other issues which the electors would in some instances actually support them doing. We are now in a position in which local government officers are known to threaten councillors with references to the Standards Board. Again this is a movement away from democracy where councillors are elected to hold the bureaucracy to account towards a situation in which the bureaucracy can constrain councillors through a legalistic process. It is all well and good saying that a councillor should not shout at officers, but actually sacking a councillor for doing on individual occasions is unreasonable. The balance of power is moving too far in the direction of the bureaucracy.
- Making the elections easier to fiddle What happens in the Ukraine happens on a massive scale in many English cities. With a bit of luck this will be proved in the Aston and Bordesley Green election petitions which should be in court in March 2005.
- Introducing more QALGOS A quango is a Quasi Autonomous National Government Organisation. A Qualgo is one for local government. If people look at the New Deal for Communities across the country they will see a situation which frequently is hit by fraud and financial mismanagement (not always, but fraught with difficulties).