Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Another way in which Thatcher was wrong

In the course of her speech in Manchester earlier this week, the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:
For all the devolution of power in the last 20 years, our Union continues to be far too London-centric. [...] Where you can sell a three bed semi in Ilford, and buy half of Sutherland. Where, in a capital city already zooming forward on the jet fuel of high finance, the economy is further boosted by enough civil servants to fill Wembley stadium.

In 1963, the Conservative government set up the Location of Offices Bureau, assigned the task of encouraging the decentralisation of offices from central London. The Wilson-Callaghan administrations of 1964-1970 allowed it to continue (incidentally, enabling my move to the Swansea Valley with DVL in 1969).  Edward Heath between 1970 and 1974 encouraged it and it was not until Mrs Thatcher's doctrinaire government that it was abolished in the arbitrary bonfire of the quangos.

That marked the turning of the tide of decentralisation. Thatcher/Major and Blair/Brown concentrated power in the centre again, financially in the City of London and administratively in Westminster. This has resulted in the symptoms which Ms Davidson described.

No comments: