[Originally posted on Manchester Policy Blogs/Whitehall Watch]
‘Mayors’ seem to have become the default answer of many in the political elite to the problems of local government and governance in the UK, or more specifically England. Linked to the idea of ‘English devolution’ as a answer to Scottish ‘home rule’ this has become a heady brew. But maybe it’s time to ask some sober questions about this project of ‘Devo Manc’, at least in terms of the proposed system of government for Manchester.
My argument is, simply put:
- elected mayors are based on assumptions about what Archie Brown has called ‘the myth of the strong leader’;
- they are a ‘presidential’ style of government that is ill-suited to our ‘parliamentary’ political tradition, especially at local government level;
- in Manchester specifically it risks undermining the delicate balance that has been so successful with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority;
- its’ imposition without a referendum is a fundamental error by the political elite that may well backfire.