Assessing the British government's programme for democratic renewal in local government requires a recognition that local self-government is distinguished from other forms of local governance by the elected basis of relatively autonomous multi-purpose authorities. Its contribution to the democratic state may be functional in promoting self-government or dysfunctional in promoting differentiation and inequality of area. Thus New Labour faces an old dilemma. Resolving it may require a consideration of participation and especially alienation and an assessment of the extent to which more or less devolution to local authorities serves the priorities of our time
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