Coffee House

The contests that really matter today

3 May 2012

For the long-term future of Britain, perhaps, the most important
contests today are the mayoral referendums in 11 of Britain’s biggest cities. For elected mayors offer the best chance of urban renewal.

As recently as the ‘70s people described Birmingham as the city of the future. No one would say that now. But a mayor might just be able to give Britain’s sclerotic second city the
leadership it needs. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a mayor could be worse than the Tory-Lib Dem council that currently runs the city which opposed education reform for far too long.

Liverpool has already decided to have a mayor and is electing one today. None of the candidates are particularly inspirational or impressive. But I still suspect that having a mayor will make
Liverpool a better-run place than it was before.

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Show comments
  • Tiberius

    Back at ya!

  • Axstane


    I had never even considered Manchester as a place to go to for a holiday.

    I doubt that I ever shall. Cornwall, Wales, the Lake District, Prague, Vienna, Cape Town all rank a lot higher in my list of preferences.

  • Cynic

    None of the candidates are particularly inspirational or impressive. But I still suspect that having a mayor will make Liverpool a better-run place than it was before.” Why should an unimpressive mayor, lacking in inspirational qualities, make Liverpool a better run place? If they had well-thought out and carefully costed policies, perhaps, but the simple fact there is now one more layer of elected politicians in local government is hardly cause for optimism.

  • Frank Sutton

    If you don’t happen to live in one these 11 cities, this contest isn’t likely to matter much at all. It certainly isn’t one you can take part in.

  • strapworld

    Tiberious you are now clutching at wet straws.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Elected mayors = faux democracy…

  • Tiberius

    I never had you down as a fan of BBC polling, strapworld. It’s poor evidence when stacked up against history and historical convention. If you Google “Britain’s second city”, see what you get on page one.

    I imagine if you polled British football fans, you’d get a majority saying City were now a better team than United, but that doesn’t overturn decades of the contrary.

  • TomTom

    “elected mayors? more troughing at taxpayers expense. we need less politicians, not more.”

    Simply ELECT the Council Chief Executive

  • alexsandr

    elected mayors? more troughing at taxpayers expense. we need less politicians, not more.

  • IS

    Such pathetic, deluded faith that some politician with a gold chain is going to reverse the continuing decline wrought by other, more powerful, politicians.
    Austin is bang on the button.

  • strapworld

    Sorry, but as a Mancunian it is important.
    A lot of people think of Manchester as the second capital city of England next to London. It started out during the textile business ventures that became popular back in the 19th century and since then it has become one of the UK’s most popular and most wealthy cities. Now, it is considered as one of the best places to go to for a weekend or a holiday. This is also one of the main stopovers for the people who decide to go to Wales or Scotland.Now who would want to go to Brum?

  • strapworld

    Tiberious..Sorry you are incorrect.

    In a 2007 survey commissioned by the BBC investigating the subject of the “‘Second city’ of England” (as opposed to the UK as a whole), 48% of 1,000 people said that Manchester deserves the distinction, with 40% choosing Birmingham.[26][27] The BBC further reported that Manchester is close to being the second city of the UK in 2005.[28] In a similar survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, commissioned by “Visit Manchester” (Manchester’s tourism department), Manchester received the highest response for the category of second city at 34%, compared to Birmingham at 29%; and in the same poll, Manchester had the highest response for the category of third city with 27% of the vote, 6% more than the 21% for Birmingham. NOW you know why the BBC moved to Manchester (well Salford) and not Birmingham.

  • Sir Everard Digby

    and of course businesses do not get to vote,which seems odd in mayprial elections? The other question which becomes less clear is ‘what is the point of politics?’ if we introduce new players like this into it.

  • Stuart Eels

    I have to agree strapworld, the Mayors are the first steps to the break up of England it will be Regions first then goodbye Albion.

    “There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, that means more to me than any other. That word is ENGLAND.” Sir Winston Churchill.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Over the last 15 years what proportion of the population of Birmingham has immigrated, or been born as the children of such immigrants.

    To what extent is THAT the problem which Birmingham faces. Will it be addressed by an elected mayor?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    So it is a bit of a guess, on your part, as to whether an elected mayor in any place will make a difference. It certainly is a very important EU policy and one can’t help imagining that you are just parroting what you have been instructed to say.

    Mayors are part of the denuding of real democracy, and the subversion of national states so that they can be better managed within the new world order. The presidential ambitions of successive Prime Ministers tends to the same end.

    Power must be held by many representatives of the people otherwise it is lost by the people.

  • TomTom

    “Liverpool has already decided to have a mayor”

    NO !!! The Council decided to agree but the Voters were NOT consulted.

  • daniel maris

    Doesn’t Detroit have a Mayor?

    What a load of nonsense.

    Did London not boom in growth and employment before it had a Mayor?

  • In2minds

    In the 1970’s George Melly was fond of calling Birmingham “the arsehole of Great Britain”, but then Melly knew what he was talking about!

  • Tiberius

    In a world full of uncertainty, it is a fact that Birminghanm was and is Britain’s second city, strapworld. On this, James is right and you are wrong.

  • Austin Barry

    “As recently as the ‘70s people described Birmingham as the city of the future. No one would say that now.”

    I disagree.

    Bidonville Birmingham is precisely the city of the future: rundown, seamed with crime and poverty and generally resembling some Third World dump.

  • strapworld

    Manchester has been and is the Second City.
    Sloppy Mr Forsyth.

    I see you are pushing the EU agenda. How many ‘mayors’ are being elected in Wales, Scotland or IN.Ireland? This is regionalisation by another means. Cameron and Clegg pushing the EU agenda supported by Forsyth and Co.

  • Paul Danon

    Our experience in London is enough to put us off mayors. What’s needed is truly local government based on ward/parish and free from parties.

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