Most people are almost totally disinterested in local politics. Many people don't bother to vote in local elections; most probably couldn't tell you who their councillor is. or which tier of local government is responsible for which services, or which political party runs their local council.
The only exceptions are the London boroughs which attract sensational and distorted media coverage because of their so- called "loony left" policies. The tabloid newspapers are, in general, not the slightest bit interested in what councils do or don't do about council housing or social services, but let any council give a few pounds to a gay or lesbian group and it becomes front page news. It is little wonder, therefore, that Kin- nock is doing all that he can to dissociate himself from them since his overriding concern is the achievement of political power no matter what policies he has to ditch on the way to Number Ten.
In fact local authorities do affect our lives in important ways. They are responsible for providing education, social services, housing, home helps and day centres. They maintain the roads and remove the rubbish. They provide leisure and recreational facilities — parks, swimming pools, libraries and community centres. They regulate the environment in which we live by granting planning permission to builders.
But local authorities are important for another reason: they are the only other elected authority besides central government. This does not mean that they are especially democratic however. Most councils are out of touch with the needs of workers; they are dominated by representatives of the business community and operate in their interests. It is little wonder that most people are not interested in local politics, since it makes very little difference which party controls the council — life will go on pretty much as before…