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Zac Goldsmith backs radical localism

Whether a Cameron Government would deliver on localism might not be a great talking point at The Dog and Duck. However it is a concern in Town Halls frustrated at the Whitehall straitjacket. Zac Goldsmith, the Tory candidate for Richmond Park, is best known for his environmentalism. But his new book The Constant Economy also suggests he will be a staunch supporter of localism, or Direct Democracy as he calls it, should he be among the new Tory MPs elected next year.

Goldsmith has been seeking to prevent the opening of a new Sainsbury's in Barnes and held a private referendum to demonstrate popular opposition. He is furious that the result is ignored. He takes inspiration from California, Brazil and Switzerland for what localism can achieve.

Of course localism doesn't always mean councillors having more power. For instance it can mean the budgets they proposed being subject to veto from residents. Goldsmith says of Switzerland:

"Direct democracy has benefits for people who participate in referenda as well as for the Swiss public generally. A survey comparing budget decisions in over 130 Swiss towns found that public expenditure and debt are lower in cities that require a budget deficit to be approved by citizens. Cantons with direct democracy also report higher overall productivity and lower corruption, and their citizens are better informed about the issues involved."


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