Personally, I think recycling is a bit of a scam as it is has been permitted to develop as an the industry thanks largely to the previous administration's cavalier approach to all things concerning private companies earning public money, civic duty and civil liberties. Currently, huge private firms hoover up council contracts and then make a heck of a lot more money out of waste management via exploitation of what should be, as I said, a good cause, namely recycling. Consequence? Hardly anything is actually recycled in this country as a proportion of the total and yet we are already paying far more for the privilege of having our household waste taken away. Pickles' idea therefore seems to be the best of a bad set of options. If people are to be forced to pay more for refuse collection, and forced to sort out their own rubbish, then yes, some kind of payback incentive is a reasonable idea. Maybe it should go further and become a full rebate for getting your recycling 100% right. That would be a real incentive and prove the sincerity of any council's recycling motive.
Predictably on the Today programme this morning, John Humphreys seemed quite keen to attack even this popular and modest Tory government policy by trying to argue the toss with a pretty no-nonsense Norfolk councillor who had only briefly looked at the Windsor and Maidenhead pilot scheme on which the new government policy is apparently based and was having none of Humphrey's puffed-up, scornful nonsense. Humphreys eventually seemed to realise he was talking rubbish and marginally altered his inappropriately confrontational tone towards the end. In fact, I'd say he was pretty comprehensively 'owned' by whoever that interviewee was, actually, and it was a very pleasant experience for this listener. I've never really heard anyone who likes the sound of his own voice more than Humphreys, apart from, possibly, David Dimbleby. Oh, and Paxman. Not forgetting Marr who's shaping up as another fine lefty BBC windbag as well. But that's another story, I suppose.
Whatever anyone thinks about the abolition of the bin tax proposals, this to me is another example of the Tories trying to right Labour's wrongs. It's therefore worth praising just on those grounds, even if it is merely a shuffle in the right direction when it comes to this country's sorry record on recycling, value for money for local services and councils' continuing erosion of privacy and individual rights (including the rights guarding against trespass by council officials), and local government 'snooping'. In the end, that's perhaps what was at the heart of this issue, not recycling. In that sense, what Pickles has done is to begin the process of tackling the surveillance mentality of far too many local authorities and to reframe the authoritarian zeitgeist that prevailed under Labour in a small state philosophy that should help to bring about a shift towards a freer society. I have no doubt that this is his aim, and it's laudable in its libertarianism.
Whether he achieves any more than making sure our bins continue to be dumb trash cans rather than being permitted to evolve into spying robots working for the state remains to be seen. But it's a start.