Coffee House

Labour’s localist lurch

24 March 2014

One of the other things worth noting from this morning’s letter from the ‘members of the progressive community’ who are anxious that Labour isn’t attempting to make a big offer in 2015 is that the alliance of groups and figures from the left and right of the party back decentralisation. The letter calls for:

‘Devolution of state institutions, by giving away power and resources to our nations, regions, cities, localities and, where possible, directly to the people.’

As I explained in my Telegraph column last week, a battle in the shadow cabinet has resulted in a surprise victory for Hilary Benn and Jon Cruddas, who had been pushing for a Labourish sort of localism. We saw some of the outworkings of that in Ed Miliband’s Hugo Young lecture. There were even plans afoot at one stage to rename localism, but that seems to have run aground for the time being at least. The Tories, though, are worried that Labour could outflank them on this issue, which would be a very curious thing if an instinctively centralising party goes into the general election telling voters that it’s better at handing them power than the Tories.

P.S. This letter is being read as a blow to Miliband because it showed how widespread the doubt is across all wings of his party. But perhaps the authors are still crediting the Labour leader with too much power. They also demand ‘prevention of the causes of our social, environmental, physical and mental health problems, which requires a holistic and long-term approach to governance’. They’re clearly talking about underlying issues in society that lead to poor health and the like. But it does sound rather as though they think the Labour policy review could concoct the elixir of life. Cruddas will have to set up another working group.

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Show comments
  • Smithersjones2013

    ” a Labourish sort of localism.”

    You can do as you feel fit so long as I say you can

    Labour localist and supporting the EU? Risible, ridiculous, dishonest, absurd.

    Anyway its impractical. The collective hive mind of Labour clones could never function as competing individuals……

    PS If its as successful as devolution then I suspect Ashby De La Zouche amongst many will be demanding an independence referendum within 20 years.

  • MikeF

    The key word here is not ‘localism’, a term you would expect from Lib-Dems, but ‘progressive’, an item of fossilised vocabulary from the 1930 used by people whose ‘progressivism’ inevitably leads only to stasis and then regression.

  • Makroon

    How would the party of liars and stunts produce a “big offer” ?
    Is a “big offer” the same as a “big lie” ?

    • Wessex Man

      of course it is.

  • CharlietheChump

    Big State or Localist, Labour socialism has been, and always will be a disaster.

  • DWWolds

    If Labour want to champion “localism” how come they are refusing us a referendum on the EU? And how come they have turned against academies in the education system?

  • allymax bruce

    Right-on sister!
    Here’s what I said when Scotch Labour announced their devo-manifesto last week; “this is the continuation of Blairite policies from 6 years ago. Local Authorities will soon own you; it was a central tenet of Bliarism to ‘de-centralise responsibility’ to LA’s, but make them absolutely responsible to the State.”

    • Colonel Mustard

      Agreed. The rise of council power from 1997 to 2010, shifting from serving the people to controlling them, and the increasing involvement of councils in promoting Labour’s ideology at the expense of the taxpayer was astonishing. Not least because it encountered so little resistance. Even Tory-led councils were churning out leftist propaganda because the originators weren’t the elected councillors they were the left-wing activists working in the council offices in all the newly created taxpayer funded non jobs. Impossible to get a job in local government if you have any kind of background that suggests a non-leftist viewpoint.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Even if Labour were to pursue a policy of ‘localism’ it wouldn’t be localism in any true meaning of that word. Power would devolve not to the people but to the apparatchiks, rent seekers and activists of Labour’s Third Sector, the very sort of ‘independent’ people who wrote that letter and who are skilled operators in infiltrating and suborning platforms of power without being elected or accountable.

    You might also usefully ask just what mechanism has brought this ‘progressive community’ together to write such a letter and how it is that representatives of educational establishments and charities can openly promote a party political agenda. The moment any agenda becomes ‘organised’ or the subject of such increasingly common ‘open letters’ treat it with utmost suspicion. The last thing it will represent is the will of any ordinary people.

    • Andy

      Exactly. The place would be stuffed with Gauleiters directing matters and ensuring the party got its own way. Meaningless drivel from the Fascists as per usual.

    • HookesLaw

      ‘people’ are too busy with other things than to be forever meddling in local affairs. Such a policy would end up being taken over by either party workers or the usual driven busy bodies.
      Oh… and of course just where would these groups get any money – only money doled out to them. Localism is fine until it starts running away with public money.

      • Wessex Man

        much like Call me Dave tried……………….

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      Spot on.

    • ButcombeMan

      For your amusement take a look at the intellectual chaos here below the actual letter:

      • Colonel Mustard

        Thank you. Much fun to be had there by doing a telemachus. I recommend it to everyone fed up with the nasty little spud defecating on the comments here.

    • telemachus

      Your second paragraph is simply a reiteration of your peculiar version of the anarchists charter
      When will yo folks learn that creation of an agenda by a group,and ratified by the masses is the only way to rule in an effective and fair manner
      It is cowardice not to nail your colours to the mast

      • Colonel Mustard

        Resistance to the tyranny you represent is not anarchy.


  • Mr Creosote

    Labour seem to be incapable of trusting pensioners (among others) to spend their own money, or Doctors to make their own commissioning decisions. What makes anyone think it will be a credible Labour policy to allow locals to have access to the levers of power? – it simply will not happen!

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