In a way you have to admire the ingenuity of the Tories in how they’ve pursued their local government agenda. While preaching localism, inevitably attractive after years of New Labour authoritarianism and centralisation, they have also deliberately placed local councils in a bind: imposing cuts and freezing council tax on the one hand while affirming a new culture of local accountability and civic engagement on the other. The effect? They’ve effectively outsourced the political fall out of some of the concrete manifestations of austerity onto local councils.
A role which some Tory councils have embraced enthusiastically, providing de facto social laboratories for sketching the outlines of the neoliberal small state utopia – case in point: the growth of private waste collection companies which angry residents are forced to turn to because their local council has stopped even pretending to provide a service which has massive popular support and a long standing history. These services are also something which have been speculated about in think tank publications and the comments page of the telegraph for quite some time and now the bastards are actually starting to get their way.