Cameron’s People Power has appeal

In the Conservative manifesto, Cameron takes the bold step of putting political reform at the heart of his appeal to voters. His “Invitation to join the Government of Britain” to voters is a novel departure although at its core, it expresses the traditional Tory belief that individuals should take greater responsibility for their own destiny. It also makes a virtue out of the necessity of facing up to financial austerity: “We can make Britain a better country without simply spending more money.” But Cameron’s examples of a new localism – referendums to cut council tax and elect police commissioners, taking over the local post office, starting a new school, more open and responsive planning – balk at devolving specific extra power to local councils, apart from his plan to consult on big city mayors.
In a neat strategic move, he links public spending cuts with continung public fury over the expenses scandal and a vision of the future in a single theme. By stressing “people power ” he ducks making the difficult claim that political reform by itself will improve public trust. His belief in greater participation appears mainly to lie in faith and anecdote. “The evidence is all around is. The schools network is inundated. The charities would love to do more.. There is a vast untapped well of enterprise and effort. It just takes government to set it free. It’s a simple as that”.While he plans cutbacks in Whitehall he doesn’t see a big transfer of resources to local level as part of his solution.
There is no pledge to review the system of powersharing at Stormont. The Change Politics section of the manifesto is in pps: 63-83 ( though in fact as usual with PDF, the relevant pages are a bit further on. The ambitious intro rhetoric appears to commit the Cons to real change .
We believe in people power – and today the information revolution gives us the practical tools
to realise that philosophy. So we plan to change Britain with a sweeping redistribution of power:
from the state to citizens; from the government to Parliament; from Whitehall to communities;
from Brussels to Britain; from bureaucracy to democracy. Taking power away from the political
elite and handing it to the man and woman in the street. Using decentralisation, accountability
and transparency, we will weaken the old political elites, give people power, fix our broken politics
and restore people’s faith that if we act together things can change. This is a new agenda for
a new politics.

Section headlines

Make politics more accountable
We will clean up politics: the expenses, the lobbying and problems with party funding. We will cut
the cost of Parliament, cut the number of MPs and cut Ministers’ pay. We will give citizens direct
control over what goes on in Westminster, make government more accountable and safeguard the
independence of the civil service
Make politics more transparent
We will publish details of the money government spends and the people it employs. People will
have a right to government data to make the performance of the state transparent. We will cut the
unaccountable quango state and root out waste.
Make politics more local
We will put neighbourhoods in charge of planning the way their communities develop, with
incentives in favour of sustainable development. We will make it easier for everyone to get onto
the housing ladder. We will give individuals and local government much more power, allow
communities to take control of vital services, and give people the chance to have a powerful,
elected mayor in England’s largest cities.

Strengthening the Union
The Conservative Party is passionate about the
Union and we will never do anything to put it
at risk. And, because of the new political force
we have created with the Ulster Unionists, we
are proud that at the next election we will be the
only party fielding candidates in every part of
the UK.
Support devolution
In Northern Ireland, we strongly support
the political institutions established over the
past decade and we are committed to makingdevolution work. We will continue to promote
peace, stability and economic prosperity
and work to bring Northern Ireland back
into the mainstream of UK politics. We will
produce a government paper examining the
mechanism for changing the corporation tax
rate in Northern Ireland, in order to attract
significant new investment. And we will stop
the practice of ‘double-jobbing’, whereby
elected representatives sit in both Westminster
and Stormont.

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    >>While he plans cutbacks in Whitehall he doesn’t see a big transfer of resources to local level as part of his solution.
    There is no pledge to review the system of powersharing at Stormont.<

  • Drumlins Rock

    PE, what are you raving about?

    Some good enough ideas I guess, hard to know how they will work on the ground.

  • Prionsa Eoghann


    Clumsy I know, but is it the OO and their political wing you wish to know of, or perhaps my guess that their long-term intentions is to get the Tories to change the present system at Stormont?

  • Greenflag

    Good lord what a load of oul drivel . Beware those who shout ‘power to the people ‘ when what they really mean is power to the people who shout power to the people .

    Of course politics needs ‘cleaning ‘ in the UK and elsewhere not least here in Ireland and in NI but come on folks where’s Cameron’s ‘economics’ in all of the above fancy footwork ? Not a word about ‘reform’ of the City of London gangsters -not a word about the wholesale takeover of what’s left of the British economy by the hedge fund crooks ?

    The above ‘political manifesto’is nothing more than a hot air goody goody balloon of election festivities which will dissipate two seconds after and if the Tories squeak into power .

    Change for the sake of change may at times be a good enough reason to eject a Government particularly when it’s been in power for 13 years . But not the best choice in current worldwide economic circumstances. The Tories are winging it and they would rather the people did’nt know .

  • This looks like the age old Tory v Labour / Private v Public spending debate all dressed up in some new politcal clothing.

  • Greenflag

    MU ,

    Indeed . The white washed crow will however soon show black again .

    BTW -the age old debate is no longer good enough not in the UK nor Ireland nor USA . It does nothing to address the core issues facing the economies nor project any practical construct for the future . A sorry bunch of muddling throughers tied to the last century’s ideologies 🙁

  • PJM

    The manifesto seems to adopt California as its model – not the dynamic knowledge economy part but the weird gold-rush era constitution that has all but paralysed the state for most of the last decade. Localism has certain consequences that Cameron needs to address:

    1) local provision means uneven provision. Some areas will be better run and funded or will face less severe problems. The result is always a postcode lottery.

    2) Localism means diverging standards and rules: will Cameron accept the consequences if the electorate reject a council tax proposal and the council slashes spending as a result? Will he allow local schools to teach creationism or radical sex ed.? Will members of these local groups include radical Muslim associations at one extreme or BNP groups at the other?

    3) Direct democracy carries the risk of demagogory: if 5% of the electorate can re-run a democratic election that empowers not just the the good citizens but also the racists and cranks.

    4) These proposal won’t work on the cheap. Real choice only exists if there is an oversupply of resources, otherwise you simply delegate the system of rationing.

    Tony Blair discovered in London, Wales and Scotland that once you delegate power it is hard to exert control. If Cameron is serious about this project he needs to accept that.

  • Cynic2

    ‘Some areas will be better run’

    Fine. Sack the fools you elected and get new ones who deliver.

    “Localism means diverging standards and rules”

    Fine. The alternative is to assume that Nanny Whitehall knows best. Sack the fools you elected and get new ones who deliver.

    ” Direct democracy carries the risk of demagogory” Many council seats are decided on hundreds or a few thousand votes. It will force elected reps to listen. If they dont sack the fools you elected and get new ones who deliver.

  • Cynic2

    “These proposal won’t work on the cheap”

    This assumes that the current system is optimally efficient but we know that there are huge levels of waste inefficiency and multiple level of standards setting, monitoring, evaluation.

    I used to sit on the board of a charity that did work for a health trust. They funded us to the tune of about £170k / year for this. Every year for 3 years they commissioned consultants to evaluate our performance. The typical bill for the evaluation was £30k to £40k /year!!

    On top of that we spent endless hours answering what were often very stupid questions from their 21 year old trainees just out of university but charged out at up to £1500 / day then civil servants poured over it and there were endless meetings and new commissioning discussions.

    The fundamental problem was that the health processionals wanted to provide the service provided in house, thereby creating more jobs in the Health Service. However, as a third sector organisation, we were 2 to 3 times cheaper per patient intervention that they were. So the machine assumed that there must be something wrong with the service, some deficiency in delivery on the contract. There wasn’t. We were just efficient. We had a flat structure and devolved authority, spending money on treatment not management.

  • English Republic

    “Strengthening the Union
    The Conservative Party is passionate about the
    Union and we will never do anything to put it
    at risk. And, because of the new political force
    we have created with the Ulster Unionists, we
    are proud that at the next election we will be the
    only party fielding candidates in every part of
    the UK.”

    Which means he will do absolutely nothing about The English Question or West Lothian Question. The man has shown his contempt towards the people of England and has shown himself to be as anti-English as anyone in the Liebour Party including the clunking fist himself. David Donald Cameron’s anti-Englishness will be his undoing and is the main reason why a thoroughly unpleasant and discredited government still has a chance of winning this election. A pro-English Tory party would be on for a landslide win.

  • PJM

    Cynic2, That’s a good example of where these ideas can contribute. I was thinking of Cameron’s beloved Free Schools which would require serious new investment.
    What I am afraid of is that the Tories just see them as a face saving device for cuts. I think most people would agree that over centralisation has undermined a lot of Labour’s public sector reforms so I’d like to see some of what the Tories promise put into action but I think their case is pretty poorly thought out at the moment. Done properly it has potential but their use of the US as a model is not encouraging.

  • Greenflag


    Good post 9 above .

    Remember ole /new Chinee saying

    Those who can -DO

    Those who can’t do -TEACH

    Those who can’t do and can’t teach -CONSULT

    or an older version

    Always look for the tutor with the personal touch
    But be mindful they don’t touch you for too much 😉