We at LGiU were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Professor George Jones, Professor of local government at the LSE. George was a great friend to the LGiU over many years, and a great friend to all in local government. Never one to shy away from criticising governments of any hue he was a great and consistent defender of decentralisation. I won’t repeat the excellent obit in the Times (see here for those behind the pay wall) but many will remember fondly George’s reminiscing about his time on the Layfield Committee.
Layfield reported in 1976, proposing a local taxation system with greater local autonomy. Unsurprisingly the Government did not take this step. This did not prevent Professor Jones from reminding each and every administration since then that they had missed a huge opportunity.
George’s passing is a real loss to those who care about local democracy. But fond memories will remain for many. The last time George joined us was in December last year for a debate with the Mile End institute on devo. He was given the last word in the debate in which he memorably held the room by predicting “devolution is doomed”. You could sum up George’s many interventions over the last 40 years as a great frustration that he had tried to provide an answer yet the debate trundles on.
Finally, perhaps Professor Jones’ greatest testament is that he took the study of local government which, as the Times notes, is often seen as a ‘dry’ subject and made it into a serious area for academic pursuit.