Posts Tagged ‘Andy Westwood’

Labour should properly embrace elected mayors, says Andy Westwood

11/10/2010, 09:00:52 AM

Back in 1997 Labour’s big idea for local government was the election of city mayors. But it appeared and then disappeared in an instant. After creating the office of mayor of London (and then a few others in places like Middlesborough, Newham and Hartlepool), Labour enthusiasm quickly waned as an independent Ken Livingstone fought and won it. After a second term as the Labour candidate, he lost it again. But Ken has been rehabilitated once more and has been selected to fight again in 2012. Does his return suggest that we should take a moment to rethink our rather lukewarm attitude to mayors in England’s other larger cities? Mayoral elections are now in the pipeline with the government committed to introducing the offices in England’s twelve largest cities.

But we should pause and take a breath. This is far from a popular idea – among many in the Labour party and perhaps even more so in the wider electorate. Some readers will already be writing their comments – and they won’t be positive. Most local councillors in cities across England are not keen. National politicians have been happy to drop the idea given the degree of opposition from some town halls. Even Eric Pickles has been lobbied by Tory and coalition councils to back off. And perhaps they all have a point. After all, we’ve started to win back many of the city councils that we lost during our time in government. But we really should think about it more deeply – not least because we will need to fight any mayoral elections every bit as hard as we plan to do to in London. (more…)

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Laugh at the Tories, not the Big Society, says Andy Westwood

28/05/2010, 01:39:37 PM

It has been very easy to pour scorn on David Cameron’s big idea. I have done it myself. Launched in the election campaign, it bombed on the doorstep and among the media. Most people had little or no idea what he was talking about and those who did assumed that he was just trying to make something more substantial from his line about society not being the same thing as the state.

Mixed with its rejection of Margaret Thatcher’s anti-society stance and the implication that this was a changed, more compassionate Conservative party, this was the line that team Cameron thought would seal the deal with the electorate. It didn’t and he didn’t either.  It is fair to say that the Big Society still has some work to do to bring around the doubters.

And yet, it persists as one of the coalition’s big ideas. Cameron has relaunched it quickly with few changes – but this time from Downing Street and with more attention from the chattering classes than before. It reminded me a little of Cool Britannia, so we’ll forgive the curiosities of those who went along to listen and be photographed. (more…)

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