Having initially adopted an approach to public service reform that saw the launch of centrally-devised initiative after initiative, New Labour has moved through a flirtation with command and control to a commitment to ‘steering centralism’.
As a result, local authorities now have the scope to be innovative in delivering tangible improvements in our public services.
This change of direction is laudable, but it is not enough to create a real dynamic for change in public services and a base for a vibrant pluralist politics that can re-engage people in their neighbourhoods and communities.
New Localism: Refashioning the Centre-Local Relationship argues that the Government must go further than a reformed, more sensitive centralism and embrace a genuine localism that recognises the inherent weaknesses of authority-based systems of control. To do so, requires the establishment of a new culture of local and regional democracy.