Today’s announcements about turning the “Big Society” into law are much more significant than they seem.
Ignore Nick Clegg’s pathetic statements that The Big Society is Liberalism. And ignore all the waffle about empowerment. This is not such thing, at all.
The core issue of significance today is the draft legislation that will enable communities to call a binding referendum if a local authority wants to increase council tax by more than the cap set by the communities secretary. As the FT notes:
Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, will outline initiatives that will, he said, attempt to “end the era of big government”.
No, this is about bringing the era of democratic government to an end. The neoliberal right wing frequently argue that democracy is dangerous – because it allows a majority to set tax rates and they claim this is prejudicial to the minority who pay most tax. And here is Pickles bringing this idea into the UK – saying that if a small minority do not like a tax increase proposed by a democratically elected local authority they can oppose it. The imp0lication is all too obvious. Democracy is not to be trusted, this says. And the right to veto the democratic wish of the majority has to be granted to those who might pay more than average tax as a result – with, no doubt, a minority being granted the right to veto.
This is fundamentally undemocratic.
But it’s also about ensuring that reallocation of wealth through tax does not take place, and that the poorest remain poor. remember, the biggest part of council spending is on social services.
I think this the thin end of the wedge. next we’ll have a right granted that a tiny minority can call a referendum to veto any tax rise, and we’re steadily on our way to a flat tax system whilst in the meantime all those former public services are given away, for nothing no doubt as they’re suddenly worthless as we can no longer afford them, to money grabbing so called “entrepreneurs” who will exploit the local monopolies they will possess for private gain at the expense of the rest of us.
This is fundamentally dangerous for the stability of government in the UK, for the future of democracy, and civil order. Yes, I’m worried. I think this is a dangerous path that could lead to serious civil unrest as a majority are oppressed by a minority– and I don’t like that prospect, at all.
Labour has to oppose this with all the might it can muster.
If they don’t then they too are in trouble. And that would be even more worrying.