carries an article by Dominic Sandbrook
about Ferdinand Mount's new book.
Mount's theme is that Britain is run by an out-of-date and out-of-touch self-perpetuating elite. I have no argument with that, but I don't quite think that Sandbrook or Mount have understood the real problem.
Consider this extract:
Mount gives the example of High Bickington, a village in Devon which put forward a much-needed scheme for 36 new homes for poor families, 16 private homes, a school and a community centre.
Everyone backed it. The district council approved it. So did the county council. Even the relevant minister in London liked it. But the scheme died, crushed by the Government Office For The South West — just one of thousands of quangos of faceless, unelected bureaucrats.
We are obviously expected to take the side of the locals against the distant bureaucrats. But I don't think that we've got enough information to make a proper judgment on this particular event.
For a start, who owns the land in question? Does the legitimate owner wish the proposed development to go ahead? Who was going to fund the homes, school and "community centre"? A private developer is unlikely to say that he's building homes "for poor families": this sounds to me like a proposal to spend taxpayers' money, not a private investment. And something called a "community centre" is almost certainly a creation of the state. The same state that is resolutely destroying real community centres - otherwise known as pubs.
And perhaps the Office For The South West is filled with sound libertarians who are opposed to what sounds like a boondoggle. Or maybe it's the other way round and I've unjustly maligned a genuine local development that's entirely funded on the free market and that's being attacked by wicked statists in the OFTSW.
I strongly suspect that neither group is standing up for the rights of legitimate property owners. That would be an astounding development.
Mount's point seems to be that local is good and distant is bad without considering the rights of the property owners involved.
The real aim should be to defend liberty wherever it is located and that means reducing the powers of politicians and bureaucrats whether they are in Parliament or Parish, or in Quango or Council.