Gordon Brown's idea of devolving power

Gordon Brown has come out in favour of devolving power. But his idea of devolution is a little different to ours. Ideally, power should be devolved to the individual. (Actually, ideally the individual, not the government, should have the power in the first place, but we have to start from where we are.) Markets are devolution of power to the individual, who can use his "dollar votes". Failing that, power should be devolved to the most local level possible, so that individuals have the biggest say in what affects them. Where power is not in the hands of the individual, it should be in the hands of representative bodies, so that individuals at least have the power to register their opinion if they do not like how the power is exercised.

But for Gordon, devolution means removing power from government and putting it in the hands of "civil servants, the public services or in some cases external bodies like the Bank of England, without political interference". Of course, Gordon will still "set policy", so the job of the unelected bodies will simply be to implement Gordon's will. But the joy of devolving the difficult part of a minister's job (management) whilst retaining the fun part (setting policy) is that, when things are run badly, you can't blame the politician. And for that benefit, it is worth sacrificing responsibility. Nevermind that the policy and its implementation should be tightly linked. A good policy isn't only one that sounds good, but one that works well without major unintended consequences. If politicians are not responsible for implementing their own policies, will they be even less careful about unintended consequences than they are already?

No wonder our country is now run, not by our elected representatives, or by ourselves and our businesses, but by an ever-increasing quangocracy. According to the Sunday Telegraph, spending on quangos has increased by 50% in two years, to an incredible £123.8 billion. That's more than £2,000 for every person in the country. Is it conceivable that bodies whose jobs are to spend taxpayers' money, without having to worry about returns on their investment and without the ability to take account of the individual preferences of those in whose name they are spending it, are going to spend that money as well as we would spend it ourselves?