Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Conservatives on votes for Council Tax

David Cameron has proposed that Councils who want to raise their taxes above a certain limit must ask their people in a referendum. The idea was immediately rubbished on the the Today programme by the BBC's 'expert' commentators who said that because people would never vote for higher taxes it was just the same as the current capping regime. There are examples, from Croydon and Bristol, where people who were faced with a choice certainly did vote for the lowest possible Council Tax increase. Case closed you might have thought if you listened to the piece. The thing is that the BBC in their never-ending quest to be even-handed did not mention Milton Keynes. Here a vote was offered on three Council Tax alternatives and on a turn-out higher than the local elections people did not vote for the lowest, going for the rise in the middle of the range instead. So, the BBC's contemptuous dismissal of the Conservative proposals that was based on an assumption that people only ever act in their own narrow self-interest was simply wrong. It does, however illustrate the soft-left view that people cannot be trusted and must be corralled by their betters instead of being given any real power or choice themselves. Actually, I think that the idea could work and that people would vote for a well made case, even if it meant paying a higher tax. They did in Milton Keynes.

It all reflects the Conservative agenda of pushing power down to individuals and communities. After ten years of this controlling, target-obsessed government it is time that the argument moved on.

2 comments:

Chris Black said...

Well Steve, it's a starting point. But there's a long way to go before we get back to genuine local democracy ....

Steve Horgan said...

You are right of course Chris, and we need democracy throughout local public services, not just for Councils. Local accountability for the Police and Health services would make a huge difference.