Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Tory Mayor for Liverpool?

David Cameron has announced today that a Tory Government would hold a referendum in Liverpool to see whether we wanted an elected mayor.
Readers will recall that currently 5% of the population have to sign up for wanting a referendum before one is held. Hence Liam Fogarty collecting names on petitions in town for the last few years.

Now what is in this idea for the Tories? Simple really, Caroline Spellman MP gave the game away on the Today programme this morning, now that more people are voting Conservative they can afford to devolve power to Tory councils. Obviously Cameron knows that it will be a long time before there is a Tory council in Liverpool - the LibDems have long since cornered the right wing vote here - but he is hoping that in a very good year, with a fair wind, the Tories just might win a mayoral election. And if they don't - well there's nothing lost, it would be the status quo.

Surely the point is that if Liam has been unable to convince the people of Liverpool to support a mayor, after all this time, that is because, in the end, we don't want one. So I have to assume that any referendum would result in a "no thanks" verdict.


scouseboy said...

The performance of the current model in Liverpool, the Fib Dem executive board is hardly democratic, however I am not making a case for an elected mayor on the basis of the inept performance of the fib dems.
The electorate voting the fib dems out of office would be a good stating point for change.

Paula Keaveney said...

I think this is a bit more complex. The latest government consultation document on this subject is suggesting lowering the threshold for the number of signatures needed to trigger a referendum. I do think there are those high up in Labour who support the elected mayors concept. Personally I think the existing threshold is about right . If there is a genuine desire for change then collecting the names should not be that difficult. Liam Fogarty himself admits they have failed to to that.
We also need to remember, although this should not be the reason it does not happen, that running a referendum and all the organisation around that is not cheap and councils are being forced to put aside contingency for this - money that would perhaps be better spent elsehwere.

Louise Baldock said...

I am sure you are right that there are LP people who support the idea of a mayor, it was our policy introduction after all. It is just that I personally dont agree with it. I wonder if the person who dreamt it up has ever been a councillor? I see no appetite for it at all amongst the population and none amongst the politicians in local government either.

Neil Wilson said...

A one-off mayoral election, whilst I would play down our chance of wining it, would certainly produce a better city-wide Conservative vote than usual. The need for tactical voting amongst right-of-centre voters would be minimal, if not non-existent and the Lib Dems could see themselves reaching the dizzy heights of Brian Paddick's mayoral campaign in London.

I'd wait to see how this one pans out. On the one hand, it could bring in big names to reinvigorate local politics. But do we really need more politicians?