Posted by: John | May 26, 2009

Is this our TINA moment?

So, tonnes of politicians from Labour/Tories are getting on the Public’s bandwagon regarding electoral reform. Whether or not they comply with the wishes of the electorate (in which we are now in `lock step`) will depend on whether they put the country before themselves.

To REALLY change things requires really tough questioning of themselves and the whole way we are governed. In fact it requires them questioning whether they’re asking the right  questions! The whole fundamental view of our Economy has been scrutinised over the past months and now the whole question of our political system is being questioned: What and who is it for, what is it supposed to achieve and who should benefit.

For Liberal Democrats who are born to question things this comes a lot easier and we can only hope the public pick up on that. They are probably looking for people who ask themselves these tough questions.

However, there’s a question for us. As a Cllr I attended a seminar regarding one of the multitude of `white papers` on local Government that seemed to proliferate under Blair. The people taking the courses all (bar one person who stood out) seemed to have been sucked into the `London Labour elite donkey work` system. I asked a couple of questions that seemed to frighten them:

1. If we are to achieve the aims of the White Paper (I think `place shaping` was one of the buzzwords of the time don’t snigger) on regenerating communities I asked `wouldn’t that mean that London would have to lose some of its GDP`? ie I was making a fundamental point about the Economy and the centralised nature of Labour. `No` came the response `because if London expands so do the regions`! Now that response seems as anachronistic as bell-bottom flared trousers.

2. Another cheekier question I posed was: `If the Audit Commission can send in auditors to Local Government why can’t they do the same to Central Government and give them star ratings`? The answer came back `It doesn’t quite work like that`!

Unfortunately for new Labour all their hubristic economic assumptions have been torn to shreds and thus has their political credibility. Thus, Johnson and other intellectuals like Matthew Taylor are scrabbling around to try to bring about PR (as self-serving to new Labour as it was for them to have won on 36% by FPTP in 2005).

The second question I posed, about star ratings, now strikes at the depths of the new debate – it’s as tough for Labour and the Tories in spiritual and philosophical terms as it is for them in political terms. It can be translated as:

`In a recessionary economy where work is rationed how do we create an economy that brings more opportunity for ALL regions of our country. In the meantime how do we REBALANCE the political and economic drivers in our country to assist Non London/SE regions to expand so that they’re on a par with wealthier regions by reforming Parliament AND reforming the whole political structure so that the balance between Central Government and Local Government is turned on its head.`

Thus, how much power will London have to give away – perhaps Central Government should have discrete roles the rest given away to local Government? Should the HofC become a tourist attraction and the Parliament be moved somewhere else? You might think that’s far-fetched – think back to 2007 – is there ANYTHING going on now that wouldn’t be seen as far-fetched then?

As for the answer `It doesn’t quite work like that` that is exactly the response of the ancien regime. The walls are falling down, the barricades are being charged. What people may be demanding is exactly what we’re offering.

Perhaps we’ve reached a TINA (There is no alternative) moment: `You can’t change the Economy without changing the system. You can ‘t do it without fundamentally reforming and rebalancing the political structures.

That assumption is exactly why I called this website Liberal Revolution.


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