Opinion Former Article

Unlock Democracy: Lib Dem President charts decline of local government

Unlock Democracy has published a new pamphlet by Liberal Democrat Party President Ros Scott, charting the decline of local government.

In How Healthy is our Local Democracy?, Baroness Scott cites four main areas where local politics has declined in recent years: finance, bureaucracy, media and competitive elections.

Ros Scott writes:

"Democracy, like charity, begins at home. If citizens feel disconnected from the democratic processes closest to home, then what hope is there for wider engagement? If government in all its forms can't do anything about the dog dirt and paving slabs, how can anyone have confidence in its ability to deal with a global economic crisis, environmental degradation and threats to our security?

"After being closely involved with local government for almost 20 years, it is my belief that genuine local democracy in this country is in terminal decline. I don't believe that this has been pre-ordained, but rather that a nexus of various policy decisions has led us to this point. It is a failure to understand the inter-connected nature of these decisions which has got us where we are, and only through a genuine commitment to seeing these links can we rescue local democracy.

"For democratic accountability to work you need two things; firstly, a framework within which votes are cast freely, fairly and honestly, and secondly, a system within which there is a clear link between your actions as a voter, and the outcome. This means that not only should the outcome reflect the voters' preference, but that performance of the elected organisation can be used to determine their choice in the next election."

ENDS

Notes

(1) Unlock Democracy is the UK's leading campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms. It was formed in 2007 and is the successor organisation to Charter 88 and the New Politics Network.

(2) For more information, contact James Graham on 020 7278 4443 / 07966 237550.

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