The centre is a force for fairness

21 Nov 02
A 'spasm of anti-centralism' since Labour came to power has threatened universal standards and equality of access to public services, according to a Left-wing think tank.

22 November 2002

Catalyst, chaired by veteran politician Lord Hattersley, says increasing criticism of central government's 'control freakery' has led to an uncritical assumption that localism is a force for good.

The pamphlet, written by Guardian journalist and Public Finance contributor David Walker, argues that central control of standards monitoring and resource allocation are essential to achieving fairness and equality in services.

Only central government can undertake the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor, or the equalisation of resources, it says.

The pamphlet cautions against the 'new consensus' in national politics, in which Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives all posit variations on the model of devolved power.

It argues that in recent years 'progressive policies' have stemmed largely from central government, while local politics has often been the 'homeground of reaction'.

Catalyst's director, Martin McIvor, said it was time to redress the balance in favour of the centre. 'A simplistic celebration of decentralisation as such can serve as the rhetorical cover for a process that is actually more about marketisation and privatisation.'


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