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October 27, 2006


Igor Belanov

Isn't there a massive contradiction between talking of 'decentralisation' and 'popular power', then placing all this responsibility in the hands of a single figure or small group, be it elected mayor or select cabinet?

Andrew Zalotocky

Wenger has to motivate a very small group of people with whom he is in direct contact. A Mayor or local government Executive would have to deal with far more people, and communicate through many more levels of hierarchy. Secondly, central government gives local authorities less autonomy and less control over their budgets than a top-flight football manager would demand. Thirdly, Wenger also has technical expertise, the importance of which is not recognised by managerialists.


Kelly's proposals also appear to be based on giving [b]extra[/b] powers to local government, not neccessarily matched by a decrease in those held centrally - not really decentralisation therefore.

Paul Evans

You may be right about the Fundamental Attribution Error Chris, but if people ascribe power to people, then decentralisation should surely be about providing them with a wider variety of people nearer to them who can exercise power.

If this is the case, the government should be working to reduce the power of all of the rivals to strong local representatives. These rivals are...

- political parties
- journalists
- pressure groups and business lobbies
- civil servants of all stripes
- charities and the voluntary sector

Any other proposals to decentralise that don't have the reduction of these groupings at their heart are just flannel.


Just yesterday a friend was telling me about his and his neighbours' campaign to stop the building of a wind fsarm beside their village. The council voted 28-0 against. So the developers appealled and the matter will probably be decided by a single individual appointed by Central Government. Your post, for all its merits, starts off from a premise of pure fantasy.

james higham

Chris, finally: I'll grant that good leadership does exist sometimes ...

Now, don't stop there and don't quote Arsenal. Give us some other examples.

Bob B

"Ruth is merely betraying New Labour's faith that leadership is always the solution."

It's due to Blair's fascist obsession with Strong Leadership - hence the recurring New Labour dodge of announcing new policy initiatives outside Parliament to minimise opposition criticism. Ruth Kelly is only obeying orders.

Whether strong leadership is just what we need for more enterprising local councils can be assessed from the exemplars - for which the Rotten Boroughs page in Private Eye is an abundant source. Consider Doncaster, for example:

"THE managing director of Doncaster Council is to be paid up to £3,000 a week to do nothing while councillors investigate whether allegations made by the elected mayor, Martin Winter, amount to misconduct. In the latest twist to an embarrassing saga for the authority, Susan Law has been put on 'extended leave' – but not suspended – pending the outcome of an investigation prompted by complaints drawn up by Mayor Winter and cabinet colleagues.

"Ms Law called the police in to investigate a project previously run by the elected mayor at the turn of the year and her working relationship with Mayor Winter has been strained since then."

And Lincolnshire:

"A former Tory council leader who abused his position in an attempt to make money from land he owned has been sentenced to 18 months in jail. . . The jury of six men and six women took just over 10 hours to find the former Lincolnshire county council leader guilty after an eight-week trial at Sheffield crown court."

And Rotherham:

"A judge warned today that the 'cancer' of local government corruption had to be eradicated as he jailed a deputy council leader who spent thousands of pounds of a charity's cash on lavish hotels, meals and prostitutes. Judge Patrick Robertshaw sentenced Garvin Reed - the former deputy leader of Rotherham metropolitan borough council - to three years in prison after hearing how he was the lynchpin of a £172,000 fraud."

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