Patrick Phillips: Tyranny is in the name

Writer Patrick Phillips says Scotland needs to rethink local democracy

WHAT is the point in having a local MSP if they have no authority over your local authority?

Such a situation for society is of the absurd. How many levels of tyranny do we need? Today in our so-called modern world, local authorities have dangerously become political states in themselves. Local transparency and democracy does not exist. 

How many of us have actually experienced local democracy? For myself I have no idea, no memorable sensation. All I know is that we have MSPs representing constituencies, and then a council leader (usually from the same party) wastefully doing the same job. 

Why are we advised that, should we have an issue, we should go and see our local MSP, when they have no power in vital local decision-making?

Why are we advised that, should we have an issue, we should go and see our local MSP, when they have no power in vital local decision-making? From an urgent linguistic perspective, local authorities are like bureaucratic havens, for those that dogmatically believe in hierarchy. 

We must question a lot harder the role of a politician. For example, they can be elected to deal with issues responsibly on a national level but not locally. Disgracefully, this has become one of the many reasons why we are seeing thousands left destitute in their own communities. Why is the decision making not in the hands of the individual, when it has been written that local authorities are there to provide services, not judgement? How is providing a service a requirement for authority?

Biased MSPs and councillors, regardless of which party they represent, create unwanted resentment among themselves and towards the communities they are supposedly representing. We cannot allow the ongoing austerity to become the excuse; a way in which to dismiss the blatant neglect and immature behaviour of each local authority and with many MSPs consciously allowing unresolved incidents and critical circumstances to go amiss.

We forget so easily that our local authorities have legislative powers in which to exercise an act of injustice, regulation and prevention. Rarely is this seen today and completed in a manner of genuine human decency towards another. There is no ethical stance, except utter contentment, again towards the community they are serving. 

They instead become a local elite, where many council workers have not only worked for over 20 years (job ownership mentality), but often irresponsibly treated each person and their situation with no sense of urgency, due to the lack of a direct relationship with people and their communities. 

Civil unrest within our communities today are not the symptoms of an individual’s behaviour, but in fact a reaction to local injustice. 

Endless low morale within each council breeds this same kind of perspective, and with it each year a less competent local authority, creating a vicious prison of gossip, hate and narrow thinking.

And for those reading this, you may regard the issue of 'civil order' to be of the utmost importance, but the majority of civil unrest within our communities today are not the symptoms of an individual’s behaviour, but in fact a reaction to local injustice. 

The only way in which an individual from their community can now hold their local authority to account is through the courts. But how many of today’s proletariat can actually afford to do this? And, disgracefully, if they lose, all costs revert to them. They are alone and persistently left voiceless. 

From here, I could now go into the hypocrisy of today’s legal wilderness, and reveal how the law is miserably failing those it is apparently protecting: the vulnerable.

MSPs have become meaningless bureaucrats between you and your local authority. Today’s policies are dogmatic and hold restraint. "This is what the law says" or "it's council policy" are the common phrases we are left to contend with. Relentless new legislation replacing old legislation.

MSPs have become meaningless bureaucrats between you and your local authority. Today’s policies are dogmatic and hold restraint.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the social issues within our communities become blurred and deliberately displaced to distract and to confuse. Too many local authorities today are obsessed with policy and class division. Forget the Scottish public services

Ombudsmen are yet another point of tyranny and further bureaucracy. Without surprise, they are there instead to protect local authorities rather than to scrutinise them and serve up any justice for the way in which local authorities let so many vulnerable people down daily.

We are surrounded today by endless institutions, none of which genuinely serve society as a whole. It really is time to get rid of local authorities once and for all, for they are not the future. More importantly, while we spend a lot of time thinking about the alternative, they must be held to account more frequently, with more attention to detail and more attention to the risks that local authorities expose and are still creating. Right now, too much of it goes dangerously unchecked. 

This leaves so many individuals in despair, for when they look around them in their homes they are surrounded by nothing but letters and threats for legal action. The whole design within our local authorities is that there must be no room for any individual to manoeuvre.

This is the real tyranny in the end, for the individual in society is left not only powerless but without the natural freedom in which to carve out their own independence. I could go further and include the plentiful of councils that in turn, operate to serve best friends, grant planning permission without regulation, a handshake or wink. 

This is the real tyranny in the end, for the individual in society is left not only powerless but without the natural freedom in which to carve out their own independence.

But once again, when the proletariat go to their local MSP and ask them to do something with their complaint, or rather to send the message on, local authorities take it personally. And from there a silent civil war begins - immediately it is between you and the institution, which is more concerned with protecting their own jobs than your welfare. 

Proletarians continuously ponder at the question of how in any given social situation there can absurdly be more than 10 professionals involved, yet none apparently have the power to make a decision.

And where, when people are left destitute within their own communities, can they go?

Nowhere. Once again uprooted, perhaps left homeless, thrown out and forced to become marginalised for not wanting to participate in an already unjust society to begin with. 

We seriously need a completely new and fresh perspective on the way in which we operate as a community, we need to completely reorganise our entire society, if we are to end this belittling and unjust tyranny once and for all.

Picture courtesy of francois schnell

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