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LABOUR CONFERENCE - 'RESPONSIBILITY WITHOUT POWER THE WORST OF ALL WORLDS' - HOME SECRETARY

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Extracts from a speech by home secretary David Blunkett at the local government and women's conference in Cardiff a...
Extracts from a speech by home secretary David Blunkett at the local government and women's conference in Cardiff at the weekend.

'Who to hold to account and for what, is a key question in the modern era that we must address. At the moment we have the worst of all worlds. Ministers are felt, believed and presented as having responsibility for aspects of our life, our well-being and our public services over which they do not have direct control. For example, the home secretary and ministers are blamed for a rise in crime, yet the police, quite rightly, have operational independence. We need a public debate on where power lies; a mature debate on the issue of power and responsibility in contemporary society.'

David Blunkett added 'This is emphatically not about washing our hands of our responsibility to reform public services. Reform is essential to accompany the extra investment the Labour government is putting into public services; a 'something for something' approach. But we must be honest that we cannot run or do everything in 21st century Britain. The power of the executive has changed through devolution, decentralisation and membership of the EU, while the decisions of global financial institutions and businesses have a major impact on our society.'

The Home Secretary added: 'The new role of government in 21st century Britain must be to enable, as well as provide. We must develop further 'on your side government' where Whitehall does more to help local communities take their own decisions, rather than try and direct everything from the centre.

'Thinking about power and how it is exercised helps us to reconnect politics with the people. The fall in turnout at the last election means we must all think about how we can reshape government and its relationship to the people.'

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