Don’t blame Brussels, blame Whitehall

“Take back control.” That was always the most potent of Brexit slogans. And the most deceitful. Disenchanted voters were never going to gain control of the rules of EU trade. The one sphere in which they could assert control is over the area where they live: local government. Local councils deliver a quarter of all public services. Yet they’ve almost no say over the priorities of delivery. Austerity policies imposed by the centre have stripped them of all discretionary spending – on day centres, libraries, parks, nurseries and road repairs – and councillors have been denied powers to raise extra revenue (sub-national government here controls only “1.6% of GDP, against 11% in Germany and 16% in Sweden”). No matter that the people running our town halls know their
patches better than Whitehall and are just as competent; it’s Whitehall that, in these years of austerity, has recruited 11,000 extra officials, and town halls that have had to sack thousands of their own. If we want to revive our democracy, it’s from London, not Brussels, that we need to take back control. (Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, re-printed in The Week 6 Oct 2018)

Brilliant! The current national government is proving to be utterly incompetent, and its relentless centralising (since the Thatcher regime) bad for the country, democracy and ordinary citizens. The resentment against London and the Establishment is going to be ome ferocious. But few are listening – yet. The backlash is on its way, and it will follow the bitter disillusionment of Brexit as night follows day.

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