I’m going to start this with one big, fat blockquote from the Angry Exile:
But a thought struck me – what if the sort of localism proposed by Hannan and Carswell in The Plan took hold, and maybe went even further. What if people were voting not just for the political flavour of their representative in Westminster but what manifesto they wanted to apply in their area? What if the 59,571 people who voted for other parties, to say nothing of the ≈95,000 who didn’t vote, did not have to abide by the result chosen by the 58,247 people who voted Labour because where the LibDems or Tories won those areas were run according to their manifestos? What if you weren’t just voting for the MP but the policies that would apply where you live for the next few years? To a large extent it would mean an end to national politics since the governing party would not get a say over the whole country except on truly national issues such as defence and foreign affairs, but would have to accept that those areas that had rejected them were going to be run a different way. Of course this is kind of what’s supposed to happen with local councils anyway but since the government controls the purse strings and since some of the services are national – the term ‘local NHS’ has always seemed oxymoronic – there’s not as much local variation as there could be.
The downside is obvious. It would be very difficult for a government to balance income and expenditure since it wouldn’t know how many areas would be paying tax and consuming services at the rates it had in mind and how many would be at the rates suggested by the opposition parties. The solution is equally obvious – one national tax to pay for the truly national services, such as defence, and everything else determined locally. It would be a more libertarian system but not necessarily one that favours libertarianism if most people wanted to live under one or other set of Labial Conservocrat rules. What it would mean is that those who want to live free of unnecessary government intrusion can pick the most libertarian place in the country – which could be just one small town or a single rural seat – and move there. What could be more libertarian than to allow the Lib/Lab/Con voters, and those who don’t object to their policies strongly enough to vote against them, to have half their wealth taken for the privilege of living according to those preferences if the reverse applied and libertarian types could all clear off somewhere that most suited them?
This is something I’ve argued for before, on other forums and blogs. Essentially, a shift to the Hellenic (as I understand it from The Iliad, feel free to correct me) model of independent city states, bound to mutual defence by treaty but free to conduct their own affairs. Or, if you wish to put it another way, introducing the market into governance. Each city-state to produce its own government the way it chooses, may that be capitalistic, communistic, socialistic, monarchistic or whatever and to prosper or fail as each will without interference. If one (presumably libertarian) city prospers exceptionally, persons from other cities will naturally gravitate towards such a place. If one city falters (probably a communistic one where people are paid to breed and drink Stella) then the productive will leave, and the city will fall. Deserted or sacked, I’m ambiguous on this. But the Market will prevail.
Eventually, the most suitable (for humans) and sustainable form of government will prevail, and the groundwork will already have been done.
Long live the Acheans! Pity the country that gave this idea to the world has slipped into socialistic-hangover chaos first, but I’m sure others will follow if that’s any consolation (and I hope it won’t be).