28 July 2010

Big Society at work - in California

This video of the citizens of Bell, California, getting rid of their corrupt city council illustrates why Cameron's "Big Society" is a non-starter in Britain.

One of the principal reasons why British governance became so over-centralized is that local governments are, in the main, run by self-serving, deeply corrupt cliques; yet such is the power of political tribalism that they tend to get re-elected regardless of their performance.

The classic example is Doncaster Borough Council, which has had more scandals than Chicago over the last 36 years, yet until recently remained under total Labour party dominance (see here and here and, hilariously, here). It is an almost exclusively white, lower class borough.

Broadly speaking two kinds of people are drawn to local government: deal makers drawn by the money-making possibilities of the planning permission racket; and idealists who become rapidly disillusioned when they have to deal with the random whining of "the people" and become putty in the hands of the racketeers.

An apathetic and willfully ignorant population is not going to step up and demand the changes needed at the grass roots level; and without the healthy - and effective- activism shown by the citizens of Bell, the decentralization of Cameron's "Big Society" will simply enable local councils to steal more.

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