Will Tory councils get their comuppance from Cameron?


A good post from Theo Blackwell on the new LabourList, about how Conservative and Labour run councils are making different choices with their powers and budgets.

I suppose it’s inevitable that councillors of the nationally governing party bear the brunt of voters’ irritation: just as in 1968 and 1986, Labour’s 1990s-strength in local representation has ebbed away as voters take a “costless” swipe at us. (There is also the very good point that Tories will always be overrepresented in councillor numbers because of two-tier local government in the Shires and unitary authorities in Scotland, Wales, London and Metropolitan areas – but let’s not go there).

However, a thought occurs. Tory councils – such as Camden and Hammersmith &Fulham, both referenced by Theo – are keen to play up the fact that they are able to cut council tax AND invest in services (although this inevitably means investing in “cuddly” services like parks, whilst letting less interesting provision for the seriously vulnerable fall by the wayside). However, a lot of the “service improvements” and “record investment” that they crow about comes not from budget choices that they make, but from direct, ring-fenced grants from the government.

Now, if Labour loses power at the next election, I can’t see David Cameron being nearly as concerned with this sort of investment as Labour have been. How will his councillors square that circle? Will the new municipal conservatism be shown up for the shallowness of its foundations? I certainly hope so.



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