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Saturday, 22 May 2010

7. Appointed Expert Governors

This is the version of democracy that I'm including as a logical opposite to many of the others, one which I wouldn't necessarily subscribe to, but one that I suspect many others would. 
The proposal is that there is no local democracy at all in the way that most would understand it.  Instead local government is run by experts appointed by central government - hence Appointed Expert Governors.  At the heart of this argument is the idea that local government is a technical business - it needs experts to run it not elected amateurs.


  • If we didn't have councillors we could save the money needed for expenses and the committee system and spend it on services instead
  • Senior council officers would be freed from the time they spend dealing with political issues 
  • Councillors don't really perform a democratic role in any case - local government has become a technocratic rather than a democratic business and councillors have become 'elected managers' ( Colin Copus' term) rather than representatives of the people
  • The Appointed Expert Governors would still be accountable but to elected central government
  • Councillors aren't really accountable to the public in any case - people vote on the basis of which national party they support
The idea of Appointed Elected Governors is very similar to the ideas that Plato set out in his book 'The Republic'.  For Plato, the 'Philosopher Kings' were the people best suited to govern.  Ideally these should be wise people with no property who were reluctant to rule - people who could take an objective view and make decisions in the best interests of the people. Similarly Appointed Elected Governors would need to be selected - they could not apply for the job - and they would be rewarded exactly according to what they were earning at the time of their appointment (as is the case with jury service).  Performance would be judged by national government using clearly stated criteria and, if they are not doing well enough, they could be sacked.  This is a much more effective means of appraisal than local elections which are often decided on national party preferences and snap judgements.

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