The defenestration of central Government (in seven minutes)


Preparing for my annual lecture I pushed everything in my diary into the second half of June and early July. This means I have, on average, about ten free minutes a day for the next four weeks. So get ready for my ten minute blog blasts….


a) The British people decide (regardless of the voting system) that they want coalition Government for the foreseeable future. This, by the way, is already the situation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as most of Europe. This will mean it simply won’t matter as much as it used to who runs Whitehall and Westminster as whichever is the lead Party, it will always have to compromise.

b) This Government really has embarked on a fundamental downsizing of the centre through dismantling aspects of the surveillance state, through the abolition of the target culture and through a huge reduction in centrally funded functions.

The conclusion is that the locus of power shifts. Increasingly, it will feel like the place where people make a difference locally rather than nationally. Being a Mayor or a Council leader will be much more important than being an MP. Politics will become more local and more civic.

Meanwhile, looking up: it was fascinating that George Osborne, the Chancellor of a fiercely anti-European Party, told the House that he has secured agreement from France and Germany to a coordinated approach to bank levies.

The American sociologist, Daniel Bell, famously said something like this:

in the future the nation state will seem too big for the small things in life and too small for the big things in life’.

Our national government will come to be judged not by what it does itself directly (it will do a lot less) but by its effectiveness as a global player and its ability to create the right strategic framework of local initiative.

These are big and fascinating questions. They should be discussed by anyone interested in politics and society. Sadly, they are about as likely to be debated intelligently in the Labour leadership campaign as Emile Heskey is to score a hat trick this afternoon.

7 minutes 38 seconds. Not bad eh?

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