Livingstone attacks Whitehalls central control

29 Jun 00
Ken Livingstone launched a blistering attack on central government's domineering attitude towards local authorities at the LGA conference.

30 June 2000

The mayor of London said councils suffered from a lack of autonomy: 'From the end of the 1980s on, local government has had no more independence in Britain than the Vichy regime had in France under the Nazis. So you just do your best to try and protect your local people as best you can.'

He accused the Treasury of leading the assault on local government's powers. 'For years the Treasury has been run by aliens whose objective is the destruction of all life on this planet. They're just starting with our local government services.'

Livingstone made the comments during an interview with the LGA's conference newspaper ahead of his address to delegates.

In his speech he kept up the attack and singled out the Ministry of Defence as an example of Whitehall's own failings.

'Their ability to control a major capital spending programme makes even the most shambolic local authority like a paragon of forward planning and integrity in contrast,' he said.

He went on: 'Before you cast aspersions in the direction of local government, you should really look at the record of central government.' He called on local authorities to prove their competence so they could reclaim the powers which had been eroded.

He added: 'If we really want to improve local government, we have to give it greater freedom – freedom to fail, but freedom also to learn from other authorities.'


Did you enjoy this article?