Brian Monteith: We should forget centralism and think local
It’s all part of a trend – the SNP government can only think of reducing the number of police forces, to have a single state police, rather than breaking up the leviathan that is Strathclyde and making it accountable to its disparate local communities.
By devolving powers out to community councils that would not need salaried councillors or executives with expensive pay, perks and pensions, we could find savings, both in running costs and in contracting services locally.
Executed properly, with accountability to communities and checks on financial management, Cameron’s proposals have the potential to revolutionise English life. Politicians have been talking about localism and local democracy ever since the post-war state grew to dominate our lives, but it has all been eyewash. This will be David Cameron’s big test as it is not an event hitting him from left-field, but something he has put on the agenda himself. If he fails on this then his credibility will be worthless. It is an approach that we sorely need in Scotland and it’s not too late for the Scottish Government to make it their own.
Forget about independence for now, forget about centralism and think local. Give people the power to run their own communities and then their horizons can be widened. Let them change their neighbourhoods; if they feel they can do that then they might become less conservative and then, ironically, independence might not seem to so many a leap too far. Come on John, think again, think big, think local.
Brian Monteith is policy director of ThinkScotland.org