Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Labour MP accuses Government of being “Brezhnev-like”

Graham Allen was apparently once accused by party seniors of being “too independent minded” to climb the political ladder.

The Labour MP for Nottingham North has been outspoken on areas in which he thinks the Government needs to change and earlier this year he was involved in the plot to oust Brown.

So it’s not a huge surprise that his most recent criticism of Government policy comes in fairly explicit terms.

In a letter to Communities and Local Government Secretary John Denham, Allen argues:

“…the way the UK governs ourselves seems to be stuck, Brezhnev-like, in command politics. This is seen at its starkest and its most wasteful in central control of local government – a concept both alien and hilarious to most western democracies.”

To remedy the situation he suggests making councils independent, sovereign bodies and even enshrining their rights to independence in a Local Government Act.

“We need to put local independence beyond the reach of central government and to admit that the man in Whitehall does not know best, even if he is a Labour man and even if he talks the "localism" talk. Petty interference from the centre must be denied any legal or financial basis and local government given unchallengeable legitimacy.”

Along with that should come financial independence – revenue raising powers and a system in which all tax collected by a council goes to the council.

The recession is eating up all the column inches at the moment, but the ‘local powers’ issue is still an area where all parties are trying to seem like the good guy.

Allen actually claims the two are linked – councils, he wrote, are best placed to fight the recession in their areas.

His criticism won’t make Denham sweat, but it challenges the claim Labour is the party prepared to decentralise most and give greater powers to councils.

With his role on the committee reforming Parliament and the credibility drawn from challenging the leader, Allen has the potential to be a thorn in Brown’s side approaching the election.

5 comments:

Purple Man said...

Nice to see one of Labour's honest boys sounds like one of the Tories' honest boys (Dan Hannan).

Anonymous said...

They could form a new party.

BigBossMan said...

Problem is that you are bound to end up with utter inertia caused by locally powerful councils who will hold up progress to serve their own interests, not to mention a horrific post code lottery in terms of local taxation.

Oldrightie said...

And?

Anonymous said...

The image of Brezhnev recalls his last years in power, a virtual corpse propped up on the podium at the May Day parade, his arm raised in salute of the passing missile squads by a nylon thread tied round his inert wrist. Perhaps an apter parallel than Graham Allen had in mind.

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