Wednesday, 9 July 2008

‘Well, The ‘Lotto’ Is Popular With The Proles….’

Voters in English local elections could be entered into a "prize draw" in an effort to increase turnout at elections, says minister Hazel Blears.

She told MPs proposals to give people more of a say in local services, such as letting councils offer "incentives" to encourage voter registration.
You’d really think that the last thing Labour wanted in the current circumstances was to encourage more people to turn up at the ballot box. Unless she’s dim enough to believe that they’d automatically vote Labour. Still, it provided the Opposition with a chance for some fun:
For the Conservatives, Eric Pickles suggested the "booby prize" would be a Labour controlled council.
It wasn’t the daftest notion test-flown by Blears, though:
Others proposals include making councils pay more attention to petitions and transferring some council assets like swimming pools to neighbourhood groups.

And organisers of local petitions, often ignored by councils, will be given the opportunity of a full council debate on the issue if signatures amount to 5% of the local population.
So, if some utter crackpot gets enough real (or fake!) signatures on his or her petition, the council must then host a full debate on the subject, regardless of it’s validity…?

David Icke, come on down!

8 comments:

Longrider said...

...transferring some council assets like swimming pools to neighbourhood groups.

Actually, that might not be as daft as it sounds. If democracy is operated at the lowest level possible, then that is exactly what would happen.

The French commune system works very well. Imagine asking a mayor in Britain if they could sort out your missing parcel. I did it in France and the Mayor was happy to help.

JuliaM said...

I suppose it depends on how they transfer the assets - would a neighbourhood group want all the liability and red tape that came with it?

What benefit do they imagine they will get from having control of, say, a local swimming pool, that they haven't got now?

Longrider said...

The issue, of course, is not necessarily the swimming pool, it's the accountability. If the water is crap, swimmers will know who, exactly, to see about it. Which is pretty much what happens in the French commune system. Burst water pipe leading to your house? Speak to the mayor and a couple of local lads come out to fix it - promptly, too.

Umbongo said...

If a name (and phone number) could be publicly attached to a responsibility (eg the bloke in the town hall who is responsible for allowing utilities to tear up roads and then wait for a few days or weeks before anything further is done) then maybe we'd be getting somewhere. I've tried on many occasions to get someone at Haringey Town Hall to do something about utilities creating havoc: it's no one person's (or seemingly anybody's) responsibility: the council has the authority but getting that authority applied is effectively impossible: even my local councillor threw up her hands and declared impotence. There's no need for a transfer of assets. As LR writes there's need for accountability. Without that nothing happens.

JuliaM said...

"Burst water pipe leading to your house? Speak to the mayor and a couple of local lads come out to fix it - promptly, too."

Is it the French system we need though? Or the French attitude to community issues?

I can see where this might pay dividends for some groups who are dedicated and can muster the resources that councils often don't bother with; small community libraries would be an ideal example.

I just wonder if this is more a way for councils to hive off services that are a nuisance to them in terms of potential future lawsuits...

"the council has the authority but getting that authority applied is effectively impossible: even my local councillor threw up her hands and declared impotence."

Yup, because there's no impetus on them to do anything. Your councillor is elected. The Haringey council workers aren't!

Longrider said...

Is it the French system we need though? Or the French attitude to community issues?

I can see where this might pay dividends for some groups who are dedicated and can muster the resources that councils often don't bother with; small community libraries would be an ideal example.

I just wonder if this is more a way for councils to hive off services that are a nuisance to them in terms of potential future lawsuits...


Either would be a start. However, the system is worth looking at because it devolves democracy to a very local level. Even at our local council level; we, the electorate, are divorced from those wielding power. The French commune system places power and responsibility with local people. Don't like the way your mayor handles things? With an electorate in the tens, rather than the hundreds or thousands, getting the incumbent removed is rather more possible.

I'm a great believer in shifting power and accountability to a more local level. You may have noticed.

JuliaM said...

"I'm a great believer in shifting power and accountability to a more local level. You may have noticed."

:D

Anonymous said...

I am too.

This

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.whale.to/b/images/capitalism.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.whale.to/b/pyramid_of_capitalist_system.html&h=866&w=700&sz=390&hl=en&start=1&tbnid=DXLR-kMDtMQqTM:&tbnh=145&tbnw=117&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpyramid%2Bcapitalism%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG


gets in the way

tt