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From virtue to venalityCorruption in the city$
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Peter Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088728

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088728.001.0001

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Decline and fall of the civic tradition and civil society

Decline and fall of the civic tradition and civil society

Chapter:
(p.38) 2 Decline and fall of the civic tradition and civil society
Source:
From virtue to venality
Author(s):

Peter Jones

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719088728.003.0003

In the 1930s local government was respected and its range of responsibilities increased via the Local Government Act 1933. Civil society and civic traditions buttressed the sense of public service ideals for urban political elites. However, by the 1990s local government had fallen into disrepute so much so that the Royal Commission on Standards in Public Life saw fit to articulate the Seven Principles of Public Life – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Thus between c. 1930 and c.1990 local government’s reputation had declined and it was no longer regarded by central government as an appropriate instrument for the rebuilding and management of urban Britain. Instances of corruption particularly the cases of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith were especially significant. Further, lack of interest in local government revealed by poor electoral turnout contributed to the problem. The detachment of civil society from urban government and urban society’s problems served to facilitate local government’s decline in status, authority and power.

Keywords:   Civil society, civic traditions, standards in public life, corruption

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