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May 25, 2007

Zac Goldsmith on Referendums

This is an excellent idea:

The remedy I suggested that night was the calling of a local referendum. I have been very impressed by the way that Switzerland handles these sorts of problems. If enough citizens sign a petition within an allotted period of time, then a referendum is called, and the local authorities abide by the result. It's eminently sensible. Everyone has a vote, all sides get the chance to put their case and those who don't get their way have the consolation of knowing that they lost the argument fairly, not because of some high-handed diktat.

Currently, Britain doesn't have anything like the Swiss system, although David Cameron is considering introducing something similar. I'm convinced it would do an enormous amount to restore people's faith in politics if they knew that they had real control over decisions in their localities. It would encourage a greater sense of ownership and social responsibility. It would also make it harder for distant authorities to impose unwelcome initiatives on unwilling communities.

Indeed, let's move whole heartedly to the Swiss system. Power is at the cantonal level, the centre, the Federal State, handles only those things which absolutely must be handled there.

However, this is idiocy:

They had also seen what happened in other areas where large supermarkets opened. Their formula is well-tried and well-tested: they open with fanfare and enticing offers, and with ruthlessly low prices lure customers away from small local shops, which are eventually driven out of business.

Ruthless? Offering people low prices? You mean the idea that they could have both a pound of bananas and some change is "ruthless"?

May 25, 2007 in Politics | Permalink

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Comments

What Zac means is artificially low prices to start with (subsidised by vast profits elsewhere). This then drives small local shops out of business. Next - surprise, surprise - the prices go up.

Read Joanna Blythman's definitive book, Shopped.

Posted by: Anti-cartel | May 26, 2007 12:39:57 AM