When we decide how we want to run our country we choose a balance between three different ‘governing mechanisms’:
• We can invest all power into the centre which applies standard rules for the administration of public services. Things become more equal but it is bureaucratic and not at all participative;
• We can extend markets into all forms of activity and rely on contracts to regulate how we get on with each other. Things become more unequal. We choose one service or another but do not engage directly with each other;
• We develop inter-active networks between a variety of forms of government and citizens in their communities of place and interest. Relationships are continuously negotiated and develop through trust.
As governments develop they tend to evolve from simple hierarchies into complex networks which ever more share responsibilities with active citizens.
The Williams Report recommends that we simplify Welsh government into a handful of local authorities ever more accountable to the centre. The aim is to take Wales backward to an ever more hierarchical, militaristic, form of government; less engaged with active citizens, more concerned with rules than innovation. It takes us back to the 19th century rather than forward to the 21st century.