Decentralisation: Socialism goes Local?

  • Colin Fudge


Proposals to decentralise local services and devolve political control to neighbourhood committees followed manifesto commitments and electoral success in the early 1980s. In Britain, such initiatives are being pursued by Labour councils, in opposition to the electoral success and apparent popularity of the Conservative Party and their policies on public spending and local government. However, it is also the failure of a centralised, statist socialism to match expectations, the declining reputation of council services and workers, and the waning of public support for the Labour Party that has led to the emergence of a new left grouping, with decentralisation of the local state as one of its political directions.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    D. Blunkett, ‘Towards a Socialist Social Policy’, Local Government Policy Making, vol. 8, no. 1, 1981, p. 102.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    ‘Community action’ is a term used in Britain (e.g. P. Leonard (ed.), The Sociology of Community Action, Sociological Review Monograph No. 21 (University of Keele, 1975). ‘Urban social movements’ and ‘urban struggles’ are derived from literature produced by the Continental Left (e.g. M. Castells, City, Class and Power, Macmillan, 1978). ‘Community politics’ is the term often adopted by members of the Liberal Party (e.g. P. Hain (ed.), Community Politics, Calder, 1976). And the term ‘micro-politics’ is used in D. Donnison and D. Eversley (eds), London: Patterns and Problems (Heinemann, 1973).Google Scholar
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  4. 6.
    See T. Mason et al., Tackling urban deprivation: the contribution of area-based management andGoogle Scholar
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  6. 7.
    Department of the Environment, The Sunderland Study, The Oldham Study, The Rotherham Study. Published as the ‘Making Towns Better’ series (1973).Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    See P. Lange, ‘Crisis and Consent, Change and Compromise: Dilemmas of Italian Communism in the 1970’s’, West European Politics, vol. 2, no. 3, 1979; P. Della Seta, ‘Notes on urban struggles in Italy’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 2, no. 2, 1978;Google Scholar
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    See R. Hambleton, Policy Planning and Local Government (Hutchinson, 1978).Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    The Oslo and Bologna ‘models’ are compared in K. Kjellberg, ‘A Comparative view of Municipal Decentralisation, Neighbourhood democracy in Oslo and Bologna’ in J. Sharpe (ed.), Decentralist Trends in Western Democracies (Sage, 1979).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    The Bologna experiment is considered in more detail in R. Narretti and R. Leonardi, ‘Participatory Planning: the PCI’s new approach to municipal government’, European Journal of Political Research, 1979 and M. Jäggi et al., Red Bologna (Writers and Readers, 1977).Google Scholar
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    See R. Hadley and M. McGrath, Going Local: Neighbourhood Social Services (Bedford Square Press, 1981), andGoogle Scholar
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  15. 15.
    Information on Walsall is drawn from B. Powell, ‘Walsall’s haul to democracy — the Neighbourhood Concept’ (1981);Google Scholar
  16. D. Nicholas, ‘Neighbourhood Offices. The Walsall Experience’ (1981) and various internal Walsall papers.Google Scholar
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    H. Shannon, ‘Walsall: Out of the Civic Centre into the Field’, New Statesman, 19 March 1982, pp. 10–12.Google Scholar
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    For further discussion of implementing manifestos see J. Gyford, Local Politics in Britain (Croom Helm, 1976) andGoogle Scholar
  19. C. Fudge, ‘Winning and Election and Gaining Control’ in S. Barrett, and C. Fudge (eds), Policy and Action (Methuen, 1981).Google Scholar
  20. 25.
    C. Fudge, P. Hoggett and S. Laurence, Decentralisation in Local Government: the Hackney Experience, report to the London Borough of Hackney on its decentralisation process (SAUS, 1983).Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    J. Gyford, ‘The New Urban Left: a Local Road to Socialism?’, New Society, 21 April 1983, pp. 91–3.Google Scholar
  22. 33.
    Anthony Kendall, New Statesman, 18 January 1983.Google Scholar

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© Colin Fudge 1984

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  • Colin Fudge

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