Sunday, June 16, 2024
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An independent voice against the local council dictators


I HAD given up hope of anything good coming out of Oxford. Tired, apparently, of being the proverbial ‘home of lost causes’, in recent years both Town and Gown seemed to be backing the global Uniparty’s winning team: the university offering no effective resistance to the shibboleths of fashionable politics, and basking (38.07 in) with embarrassing alacrity in the kudos of the ‘world-beating’ AstraZeneca ‘vaccine’, while the city council vied with London’s Sadiq Khan in blighting the lives of its electorate with crippling traffic restrictions.

Perhaps I was wrong. Last week opposition to the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in the city coalesced in the formation of the Independent Oxford Alliance, a new local political party whose mission is to undo damaging policies now in force; to ‘instigate a return to real democracy, where our councillors represent their communities, rather than blindly following the diktats of their party’, and to spend money ‘wisely, on actions that meet the needs of the wider community’.

Though Low Traffic Neighbourhoods appear to have been the trigger, the emergence of the new party is a more comprehensive response to the increasing takeover of local government by supra-local interests. Quoted in the Oxford Mail, executive committee member Peter George emphasised that this was not just ‘an anti-LTN party, though this is one area where we have detected that a large majority of people in Oxford do not feel their views have been considered’. 

The crux of the matter is that local governments in Oxford, and, indeed, throughout the UK, have effectively ceased to be local. Financially neutered, as taxes gravitate to Westminster, they eagerly offer their begging bowls to whatever government agency, corporate-NGO partnership or self-styled ‘philanthropist’ is bidding for their allegiance; in return for the pieces of silver, controversial agendas intimately affecting our homes and our daily lives are being set in rooms to which we are denied access. What meagre consultations take place are untrumpeted, perfunctory and unrepresentative, with ‘stakeholders’ (ie favoured groups and individuals) rounded up to give a validatory fig-leaf to pre-determined decisions.

It is only rarely that an independent candidate succeeds in competition with the main political parties: but grouped together under the ticket of restoring a democratic local voice to ordinary people, and with the present lack of response to public discontent regarding the LTNs fuelling their campaign, members of the Alliance will be well positioned to break the stranglehold of the status quo, winning a place in the council chamber not as representatives of a whipped ‘party line’ but of the flesh-and-blood human beings living in the area they were elected to serve. ‘If we pool our resources to grow a party,’ Mr George says, ‘councillors can still be independent in office.’

This is an idea that might be usefully replicated at general elections, for not only are local politics no longer local, national politics are no longer national. If not aware of this already, the pioneering candidates of the Oxford Alliance will soon have to face the fact that the policies being force-fed to local communities by councils throughout the country are being imposed, with a complacent nod on the part of Westminster, from the supranational level at which our jet-setting movers and shakers, pushing their revolving doors to ever-greater personal enrichment, are most at home. To give but two examples in relation to the climate-change nonsense: both Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, like my own North Tyneside Council and many more, are members of  UK:100, a network of local leaders who are funded by ‘philanthropists’ with no attachment to any particular country ‘to lead a rapid transition to Net Zero with Clean Air in their communities ahead of the government’s legal target’, regardless of local needs and priorities; in 2014 the mayor of Oxford city signed the Global Covenant of Mayors, the ‘largest global alliance for city climate leadership across the globe’.

Though they may be flattered by this description of their importance, the upstart mayors now preening themselves in their unauthorised role as ‘global leaders’ are, in fact, nothing of the kind. They are mere foot-soldiers and followers, useful pawns in a game whose ultimate prize is global governance by a techno-plutocratic oligarchy. ‘Think global, act local’ is the policy.  Our local ‘leaders’ are the obedient hands; their wealthy masters, funding the supranational think-tanks and foundations, are the brains, planning us into uniform subservience in a one-size-fits-all tyranny.

If the Covid-19 experience has shown us anything, it is that one-size-fits-all solutions imposed from above are a disaster. Human beings are prone to error, and the best way to ensure that our fallibility wreaks as little havoc as possible is to allow a multiplicity of approaches to any problem, encouraging, rather than censoring, debate and constructive dissent. The initial top-down decree that Covid-19 was a new and terrifying disease which spread like wildfire, requiring the brutal application of ventilators and defying antibiotics, was wrong; mandated lockdowns, masks and injections have left a legacy of fear, disease and premature death. It was those few doctors who had the courage to rely on their years of accumulated knowledge and experience in treating real-life human beings who, co-operating and sharing their discoveries across borders, successfully used off-label medications and devised effective protocols to save thousands of lives.

Oxford undoubtedly has traffic problems, but residents have made it clear that the imposition of LTNs does not answer their needs. This is just one of the many areas where discussion of a variety of possibilities in pursuit of tailor-made solutions is required. The promises of the Independent Oxford Alliance are to ‘shape what we do around what residents and businesses tell us’; to ‘make decisions based on genuine feedback and evidence’; and to ‘ask your opinions with an open mind and respect your views’. It would be good to see similar parties putting up candidates throughout the UK next time we are called upon to vote in local elections.

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Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond is 78, a mother and grandmother living in the north-east of England.

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