Confessions of a Political Animal

November 27, 2008

How fare the elected mayors?

One of the Labour government’s big ideas for the reform of local government was the introduction of directly-elected mayors across the country. But rather than a great firework of reform, the whole idea seems to have turned out to be something of a damp squib. There is, of course, one well known example in London, but that doesn’t really count – the Mayor-led Greater London Authority set up is unique to the capital and represents regional rather than local government. The Mayor of London’s powers resemble more those of, say, the First Minister of Wales than the local government version.

But what of the rest of the country? The powers for local authorities to hold referendums on an elected Mayor-led system was included in the Local Government Act 2000. Since then, just 37 local authorities in England and Wales have held referendums, and the verdict from these has not been (more…)

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November 20, 2008

Now that’s what I call an obssession

griffinWhat was your reaction when you heard that the BNP’s membership list had been published on the internet?

a) A sudden desire to see whether any fascists lived on your road? b) A certain gleefulness that such a vile party had come a cropper in this way? c) A little salivation at the prospect of BNP members losing their jobs? d) A mild concern over the data protection issues involved? e) Or maybe you thought ‘Aha, here’s a chance to have a bash at someone who used to be Mayor of London’?

If your answered mainly ‘e’, then you are Andrew Gilligan, and I claim my £5. The Animal’s favourite scribe has dedicated his Evening Standard column to pushing the centre-right’s usual line regarding the hard right: “oh look, aren’t they small and insignificant, if we generally downplay them and pander a bit to the prejudices of their supporters, they’ll go away.”

Gilligan headlines his article “Now we know what little threat the BNP poses” and bases his assumptions on the fact that the membership list shows a relatively small number of members in London generally, with unsurprisingly, very low numbers in the inner boroughs. But surely this was news to no-one – it was always assumed that the party’s membership was somewhere in the vicinity (more…)

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