….and that is power, whereby they gain control over those they are meant to serve.
Nothing illustrates this more than the first paragraph of the introduction to a paper Dominic Raab has written for the Centre of Policy Studies, entitled: “Unleashing the British Underdog: 10 bets on the little guy“:
“During a period of austerity, following the worst recession since the war and the application of the brakes to over a decade of rising public spending, it is unsurprising that politicians are wrestling with renewed vigour for ownership of the basic idea of fairness.” (emphasis mine).
Since when has ownership of any basic idea, where society is concerned, been the prerogative of, or owned by, politicians?
In his paper Raab lists ten 10 policies which will widen opportunity and improve social mobility:
- Extend Open Access, the scheme that sponsors talented children from all backgrounds to go to independent schools.
- Fast-track Troops to Teachers, to encourage more schools staffed by veterans to be set up in areas of deprivation.
- Give VAT tax breaks to charities such as Fight for Peace which help turn round the lives of disaffected youngsters.
- Re-instate Young Apprenticeships, so that non-academic children have a better range of vocational options.
- Expand opportunities for “legal executives”, to encourage wider non-graduate entry into the profession.
- Give start-ups and micro-businesses tax breaks, such as exemptions on employers’ NI contributions and cuts in business rates.
- Extend the 0% band on stamp duty to £250,000, to help first time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder.
- Release ‘dead equity’ for tenants in social housing, to incentivise home ownership and finance new social housing.
- Teach refugees English on arrival, so they can find work and integrate into the community.
- Introduce a simple tax allowance for employers of disabled people to cover the cost of workplace adaptations.
I would challenge anyone to argue the case why any of the above should not be the decision of the people within the local authority in which they live. Any one of Raab’s policy proposals would need to be funded through taxation of the individual – so why should the individual not have the right to say whether he/she agrees to said taxation? Raab’s proposals are no more, no less, than an extension of the idea of ‘communitarianism’ – and if an individual is to have ‘rights’ then the ideology of ‘communitarianism’ is – and must be – a ‘dead duck’.
Over to you, dear reader – and especially those who attended ‘Harrogate’ and who seem averse to even the smallest facet of the concept of direct democracy.