Tories: put your money where your mouth is

Cllr Richard Kemp, leader of the Lib Dems in local government, has challenged Tories to take action on their new pledge to push for more mayors in English cities.

We covered this tangentially whilst discussing lovebombing last week, when we also linked to Millennium Elephant’s masterful dismissal of the entire policy:

The proposal to increase accountability will actually DILUTE it; the promise to return power to people will really move power IN to a new centre that is less representative and more remote; the plan to free local government from central government control will, in reality, SHACKLE local councils even further.

Cllr Kemp has slightly more gravitas than Millennium – and a really valid point, which is if the Tories really wanted more mayors, why haven’t they taken steps to achieve it already?

Cllr Kemp says: “In Coventry you have sufficient votes to get a resolution through the council committing the council to hold an immediate referendum on the question of whether or not there should be an elected Mayor for Coventry.

“There is no need to wait for Tory legislation when you could, in fact, do it now.

“In Leeds and Birmingham you do not have sufficient votes to get a resolution through the council but you do share control in both those cities.”

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This entry was posted in Local government.


  • The Tories in Leeds don’t want a mayoral referendum because in spite of their coalition they are still only the third largest party behind the Lib Dems and Labour. Labour are still the largest party and they fear it will return a Labour Mayor.

    There is also quite a lot of trepidation amongst all the councils in Yorkshire after the horrible mess that has been created by Doncaster’s Mayor Martin Winter.

    Also, does anyone know why the Tories chose Wakefield as one of their potential Mayoral cities???

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Feb '09 - 9:19am

    Directly-elected mayors just means transferring control of a council from a collective of councillors to one individual. It’s a “must be seen to be doing something” idea, easy to propose because it doesn’t cost much, doesn’t involve any real thought, doesn’t involve any real change except to democratic concepts, but sounds dynamic.

    Therefore advocacy of this idea is a good measure of the flakiness of a politician. Essentially, if you see a politician proposing it you know “Here’s someone who’s all show and no real depth”.

    I do not know why this idea, when dragged up by politicians on the make as it regularly is, still gets covered by the media as some great decentralising proposal which is all about giving power to the people at local level. It isn’t – it doesn’t change what local government can do, all it does is take away the path into involvement with it which being a local councillor is, take away the direct link at the most local level which ward councillors give, and makes control over local government something where you now need to be a celebrity or professional politician or the like to get into.

    Isn’t the so stark-staringly obvious that the line Cameron used to sell the idea should have been laughed off by the media as if he had said something like “I will tackle obesity by making people eat more chips”?

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