Yesterday, I had the good fortune to meet Oliver Letwin at Westminster and I will confess that several of the remarks he made, struck a chord of common sense, even if I am biased towards the centre right in politics. I made some quick notes before I forgot.
“This government”, he said, “is better at absorbing money than others but rather less good at delivering quality and value than other countries.”
“The centre-left approach to well-intentioned goals has not been successful.”
And perhaps most importantly for local politics he talked about “The New Localism, in “an open-textured and modern world” giving back control to local government from a centre that has created intensive monitoring and a, targets-based culture: “
“We recognise” said Letwin, “the same challenges and share initiatives but have a different view of how they will be realised.
Reflecting on what Letwin said, I think that you and I recognise that “Big” government doesn’t work. With a public sector expanding by 13% per annum and the private sector by only 8% there’s an obvious problem around the corner, pointed out by another person yesterday, who said that we have only ‘4.5’ world class universities in this country , 39% of our PhD students come from abroad and we can’t retain them. We will see a budget speech this week from a Chancellor who has to find the money to pay for public sector growth and there’s the problem, public sector expansion of this kind is on a par with chronic obesity. At some point in the not too distant future, the patient, in this case, the UK economy, is going to have a coronary as it depends on an increasingly shrinking private sector workforce to support everyone else.
So do you think we need a new localism - which many see as a 'fudge' and to wrest control back from the centre. Le me know.