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Localism as a substitute for liberalism?

Eaten by Missionaries asks if the Tories are serious about localism. I don't suppose they are, and I'm sure EbM doesn't think so either, although most of the current Conservative party have no association with the centralism of the eighties and nineties, so I suppose we ought to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Localism is a great concept, but it's one that involves considerable courage from a central government. If you decentralise power then at some point a local executive is going to blow the bank on some half-baked vote buying scheme and is going to demand to be baled out by the centre. Facing them down demands the courage and authority of a Thatcher, and this is a commodity which is in short supply these days. A Blair would cave in at the first sign of trouble and would open the floodgates to years of irresponsible spending.

I can't imagine that the LibDems or the Conservatives are going to pluck up the courage to legislate for balanced budgets or the outlawing of bale-outs, so if it happens, localism will probably be a disaster.

Regardless of this, liberals within the LibDems (of whom EbM is one)  need to remind themselves that localism is not the same as liberalism. Shifting power from one branch of government to another is not liberalism. Leviathan will still be in control, no matter which tentacle has you by the throat. Liberalism demands that the monster lets go. That individuals choose for themselves. When that happens we may get our country back. But not until then.

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Reader Comments (2)

I agree about Leviathan and the tentacles. The answer may be to grasp the tentacle, climb up it as high as you can and hack it off.
Feb 10, 2007 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDonald Maclean
Absolutely. It's just a pity that there doesn't seem to be a party in the UK which thinks so too.
Feb 10, 2007 at 9:49 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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