A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The limits of localism

Joined-up thinking Eric Pickles style:

"We Tories are the party of localism. We want councils taking decisions, not Whitehall.

But if you as as elected local councillors want to run a local council newspaper because your local paper is rubbish, has a very low circulation, and doesn't tell people anything about council services, local events or good news because it's editor thinks only crime shifts copies, you can't. Because I say so. Independent local newspapers are so essential we are going to force local councils to subsidise them through sticking statutory notices and job adverts in them even if that doesn't represent best value for money because fewer people read it than would a council freesheet delivered to every home.

Moreover, please don't let yourselves think that you as elected local councillors can decide what jobs you'd like your council staff to include. Particularly if they have the kind of silly pseudy job titles the Daily Mail and bluff Yorkshiremen like me find wildly amusing - you know, anything with the word "co-ordinator" or "communications" in it. Even if posh job titles help get people to apply to do what are actually worthy but dull jobs, usually about encouraging your residents to hit the targets set by me in Whitehall. I reserve the right as Secretary of State to interfere in the titles given by individual councils to very junior staff and make knee-jerk judgements about the value to the public purse of roles I've not bothered to look into, whilst pulverising the morale of some poor graduate trying to encourage more recycling or get the local youths to play football instead of shooting each other. Clearly this is a priority for me as a Cabinet Minister.

And please don't let yourselves think that you as elected local councillors can decide to place adverts for jobs in the Society section of the Guardian, even though everyone looking for that kind of job knows that's where you look. An independent press at a national level which might scrutinise us as a government is definitely a luxury not a necessity and there is no way we are prepared to see it being kept commercially viable through you lot advertising jobs with silly posh job titles in it. Instead we will make you all put adverts on a big website featuring a big picture of big Eric.

I hope that is now clear and you will now obey our national instructions to implement our new localist philosophy."

13 Comments:

Blogger Hughes Views said...

Faintly amusing isn't it? (it's usually better to laugh than to cry - although, judging from my memories of 1979 and the subsequent years, it's going to become increasingly difficult). The same sort of right-thinking 'freedom' fancying folk removed most of local government's freedom of action in the 1980s.

Can't wait for their moves to 'free up teachers from the straight-jackets of central targets and national curriculums'. How long will we then have to wait for their cries of woe about loony-leftie teachers filling our poor children's minds with all manner of evil notions?

Freedom in Tory land means being free to do anything you like as long as the chaps at the golf club would approve...

6:10 pm, July 07, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Council-owned newspapers?

Even Polly Toynbee, who stuck it out with you lot to the bitter end, thought they were "Pravda sheets".

Why should a taxpayer-funded project compete with a fully-funded business?

6:30 pm, July 07, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good old Pickles. He's right up your nose.

Too right the Guardian shouldn't owe its whole commercial survival to acres of public sector non-jobs.

An electronic job noticeboard has to be the way to go.

It's not going to be much fun in Hackney for the next decade.

6:34 pm, July 07, 2010

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

I'm always intrigued by the wish of the right wing to see massively increased unemployment....are they really stupid enough to imagine that the private sector will step into the gap??

And have they actually thought of the economic and social consequences?

9:24 pm, July 07, 2010

 
Blogger james said...

I totally agree on council magazines - and let's face it, that is what they are. Where I live it is put out to each residence once a month and contains details of council services, of other public services such as police & NHS, and also information on events in the town, etc.

There's no way they compete with local newspapers. If I want to know what's going on from day to day - I buy the local paper.

3:11 am, July 08, 2010

 
Blogger Max Blondini said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:10 am, July 08, 2010

 
Blogger ASLEF shrugged said...

Thankfully where I live the council seem happy enough to publish their magazine once a month, it’s reasonably innocuous, does exactly what a council publication should do without attempting to establish itself as a rival to the local commercial press but that isn’t the case everywhere.

Down in Tower Hamlets the council’s fortnightly rag is cutting into sales of the East London Advertiser and on the other side of town the freebie H & F News is threatening to finish off the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the only local news available was that which our councils wanted us to read?

And there does seem to be a wee bit of strife between your own council and the Hackney Gazette…….

10:14 am, July 08, 2010

 
Anonymous Ed said...

Why should the Grauniad, which hardly anyone actually reads, be kept alive by a seeming monopoly on public sector job advertising?

Why should these jobs only be advertised to the readers of that failing, minority agitprop sheet?

If people want to read a local newspaper, let them buy it, don't force everyone to pay for a council-produced one.

2:29 pm, July 08, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polly Toynbee, who stuck it out with you lot to the bitter end

Err, no she didn't. She pissed off in 1981 and as far as I am aware never came back.

8:32 pm, July 08, 2010

 
Blogger ASLEF shrugged said...

“Why should the Grauniad, which hardly anyone actually reads, be kept alive by a seeming monopoly on public sector job advertising?”

Perhaps councils don’t believe they will attract the standard of applicants by advertising in the Sun even though it sells 3m to the Guardian’s 300k. You might as well ask why bother with “Newsnight” when “Britain’s got talent” is on……..

8:41 am, July 09, 2010

 
Anonymous Ed said...

"Perhaps councils don’t believe they will attract the standard of applicants by advertising in the Sun even though it sells 3m to the Guardian’s 300k."

I hardly think The Sun is a compettitor to the Guardian - a classic straw man.

What about the Telegraph (2.3 times the circulation of the Guardian) or Times (1.7x), both broadsheets with significantly larger circulations.

4:05 pm, July 09, 2010

 
OpenID bristolwestpaul said...

Localism is just rhetoric for passing buck to councils and councillors for the huge cuts in council services to come.

7:38 pm, July 09, 2010

 
Blogger james said...

The Tories told us as much before the election - didn't some senior Tory say they'd be centralist in forcing cuts on councils?

10:54 pm, July 09, 2010

 

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