...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day 2359: Lord Hesselswine's New Night-Mayor


Far be it for me to suggest that there is a touch of the MEGALOMANIAC about him, but the man who once restyled himself "President of the Board of Trade" rather than just being another minister has now come up with a plan to vest all local authority power in the hands of a single individual.

Yes, this is the Lord Hesselswine and his scheme to create super-mayors, presumably by exposing our local government to GAMMA RADIATION… er, no sorry. He wants them to have all sorts of powers, but probably not including FLIGHT!

Some Liberal Democrats, like our own Mayoral Candidate Mr Hugs, think that elected mayors are a good idea. But you always run the risk of some MAVERICK mayor going charging off on whatever crazy crusade strikes them. Like our own Mayoral Candidate… er… bless him.

The BIG problem with an elected mayor is that it is a WINNER-TAKES-ALL competition. That does not allow for a proportional outcome and means that many, and usually most, people will end up feeling that their voice is not being listened to.

There is no incentive to COMPROMISE, to work for cross-party agreements that would see benefits all round, or at least knock the rough edges off some of the more bonkers extreme proposals.

Here in London, our own BELOVED Mayor demonstrates the dangers.

The opportunity for grandstanding and political stunts is HUGE when the Mayor is unfettered by any proper control or need to get along with opposing points of view.

Even the threat of facing re-election holds little power to control him when it is awfully difficult to see how anyone else could manage to win in London. Particularly with the electoral system that the Labour put in.

And if you look at the MATHS there will be other places where it is IMPOSSIBLE to get elected if you are not (a) a Conservatory Squire or (b) a Labour Red Baron. It is this sort of entrenching of ROTTEN BOROUGH type permanent "elected" dictatorship that made people DISILLUSIONED with local politics in the first place and gave governments of either stripe the excuse to shut them down.

Lord Hessleswine is quite RIGHT that Central Government has stolen many of the powers that should be exercised by local government and Regional Development Boards and other QUANGOS control millions of pounds of spending money with little or no proper democratic oversight. But simply handing over all that power and money to a despot with arbitrary authority is not a whole lot better.

Mr Balloon said: "A city, like a nation, needs a single individual at the top…"

You would have thought that after ten years of POP-EYED PRESIDENTIAL government from Lord Blairimort and, before that, eleven years of MONARCHICAL MONOMANIA from "Queen" Margaret he'd have had enough of the FŰHRER PRINCIP by now.

We could all do with something a little bit more collegiate. (And a little bit less overwrought!)

You might even – I know this is a radical idea – think about ASKING people if they want an elected super-mayor. Of course, when they WERE asked, 22 out of 34 areas said NO THANK YOU.

We need to make local government MATTER to people, and that means INVOLVING people not dominating them.

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