Quote of the week
“We’ve produced a dangerous form of individuality with entitlement rights that say essentially that you can get something from society without in any sense paying back.”
— Philip Blond
The U.K. Big Society public sector reforms are needed because British society is broken. At least, that’s the opinion of Phillip Blond, the founder and director of the think tank ResPublica and author of Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix It.
Blond’s call is, in a sense, a paean to the past where neighbour loved neighbour and the community worked harmoniously together to improve things and deliver services. Blond argues that “localism actually allows you to have services that fill the demands and needs of your area … (where) people can work with their providers to meet their needs.”
He adds acidly that this offloading of services to local communities would save governments money since they wouldn’t have to spend millions trying to find out what customers need because “your customers are right there in front of you.”
Blond argues that role of a national (central) government is to make sure that standards are met; in the past, he says, governments have been too focused on standardizing process to get equality across the system rather than on ensuring good outcomes.
He wants the public sector to become more entrepreneurial, but is not calling for a smaller public service. He says that “if we can get people engaged in the state so they’re all doing the business of government, it could be much bigger. In the democratic and free society, you would want as many people to be involved in the things that they care about as possible.”
Blond’s call for localism is being taken seriously in the U.K., even though in Canada our federal system adds a complication.
An interview with Philip Blond that elaborates on his views is in a special KPMG supplement to the February edition of CGE that focuses on the U.K. reforms.