Monday, 9 July 2012

Localism and Nimbyism

"....The Lib Dem brand of localism is incompatible w/ liberalism (social, economic or miscellaneous)"

This is what James Shaddock (@jpshaddock *) said on twitter last week whilst in conversation with myself and  and Mike Bird (@birdyword).

We were talking about how people accept the need for cuts, as long as it's not to *their* issue or as James said

"frankly alot of what Lib Dems call localism is just nimbyism"

Now, I know a lot of hardworking local campaigners and councillors, and I've spent a fair amount of time trying to get them elected or re-elected and I think a lot of them do a great job -  keeping stations open to serve local residents being one I agree with. 

But I've also heard over the years  about campaigns to stop things in people's wards I was rather shocked - don't we exist to promote freedom and fairness? 

How can we articulate a clear vision of liberalism if we oppose (for instance) gentlemen's clubs and half-way houses in our wards? "But that's what we have to do to get elected" - how can we square this circle?

Sometimes the quieter people have the opposite view.... sometimes there is a subtely to the argument that gets missed. Sometimes we'd do better to listen to the people without the sharp elbows, for they need representing too - and of course, the evidence.

* which means I think of him as JPS Haddock.


  1. I notice that Mark Littlewood said something similar a month ago. I intended to write a shock horror article about it at the time but I didn't get round to it.
    It is a logical extension of free market fundamentalism. No need to have local democracy, let the consumer decide by keeping his money from being taxed, as to what he wants by how he spends his money. This assumes the consumer has perfect knowledge of what he is buying, which is almost never - after all he is not exactly helped by the advertising industry.
    It is a ridiculous argument in my opinion. It only takes a tiny number of people to respond to junk emails for profits to be made, but that is enough for market forces to make sure you get them.

  2. I've lost you I'm afraid... My point is around us being about freedom and fairness.

    Some people want Tesco stores in their wards... But are happy to sit back and wait for it to happen. Other issues like half way houses or needle exchanges have a greater good aspect... I'm not sure what your point about market forces is? But feel free to elucidate?