Councils are run by enfeebled party machines and their “leaders” are politicians whose means of selection and election gives first loyalty to party rather than community. They feel no obligation to public leadership. Suggest to a council leader that he stand for direct election without the carapace of party, and he shudders at the thought. These figureheads are mere agents, factotums, of central government.
This is Simon Jenkins calling for local responsibility and leadership in a comment on rioting in today’s Guardian. As a general statement it applies equally to those in Suffolk and every other part of the country.
The turning of local authorities into agents, central government has taken away from them the direct responsibilities for their communities. Jenkins has been making this argument powerfully for some time including in his book Thatcher and Sons (Amazon).
We see it all the time as every cut in services is laid at the door of a central government that has cut grants and at the same time made it impossible for council tax to be raised.
Shortly after reading Jenkins article, I head that Home Secretary Teresa May has ordered all police forces to suspend leave for their officers. If government ministers are micro-managing to that degree is it any wonder that local leaders become, in Jenkins’ words, factotums of central government.