Contracting out democracy – why not?

During the 1971 debates over the UK’s entry to what was then called the “European Communities”, the violinist Yehudi Menuhin suggested that Britain offer other countries a “rent-a-government” service, so great were the UK’s politics and civil service.

Actually I would have probably – just about – agreed at the time – but how are the mighty fallen…

Nonetheless, ‘Rent-a-government’ is really a God given (neoliberal) opportunity!

But what I’m sure he did not wish to, is suggest the resulting economic system.

Yet could we at least use it to suggest now that our government is less than optimal  (or even perhaps, entirely useless?)

Could we in fact use the neoliberal idea of contracting out government to actually suggest that the current government incumbents were not worth contracting out to?

Should we rather contract out to another government entirely?

MP’s and ministers who needs them?

Is this the ultimate privatisation?

Until we call an election could this ever be democracy?

Rent-a-government service, is an extraordinary idea to conjure with…





  1. Adrian Kent. -

    Isn’t his essentially what 40 years of EU membership has done?
    Decisions safely outsourced to a series of now self-selecting networks more used to dealing with themselves rather than the electorates of their own countries?

    A decade of austerity has done the job of finally burning the remaining bridges of local knowledge and experience.

  2. Peter May -

    There is certainly something in that. But I would argue the problem starts at home, rather than in Europe. Europe has rather, for me, caught it from national governments.

  3. Adrian Kent. -

    I think the current situation is likely due to a series of relatively small decisions at member-state and EU level. Mostly these were taken with the best of intentions in the past – policies do have to be proposed, agreements do have to be made and the choices that were made to facilitate that process give us the democratic detatchment.

    There is no grand conspiracy, just and emergent property. Either way though, the remedy is the same I’m afraid.

  4. Peter May -

    I believe Northamptonshire had effectively privatised itself before it went bust. Now it has been divided in two and received government money. Well it was a Tory Council after all….

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