Britain’s Mayoral Mess

A Sadiq Khan in every city is the haunting ruling class vision for Britain, more Mayors, wasting your money, increasing your taxes, and adding more bureaucracy, all with zero benefits to the people.

There are 26 directly elected Mayors in England, with the highest profile being Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. He is paid £152,734 a year and along with the 25 members of the Greater London Assembly, oversees a budget of about £20bn a year. The 25 members are each paid £58,543. Khan’s office costs total £6m a year whilst the headquarters of the Mayor and Assembly are their own problem. The previous City Hall, next to Tower Bridge, cost taxpayers more than £11m a year, with the move to a new location that is GLA-owned costing £13.6m. But London doesn’t just have one directly elected Mayor, it has five, in Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Croydon and Newham. The Mayor of Croydon, Jason Perry, is paid around £82k. Why does London need six elected Mayors, all costing taxpayer money, all creating harmful schemes such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, adding extra layers of bureaucracy and government?

The city of Liverpool, has two Mayors, with the previous Mayor of Liverpool being arrested in December 2020 for conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation, and in which the government had to take control of parts of the city council due to suspected corruption and mismanagement. The City Council will return to a leader and cabinet model this year, in which the elected members vote for a council leader who will then appoint their cabinet. The local government of Liverpool is grossly incompetent, as is the case with most local governments across Britain, the council failed to renew/update contracts meaning extra costs adding up to millions of pounds. The Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region was established in 2017 and has been held by Steve Rotherham. Rotherham was previously an MP before he resigned, his elevation to Mayor is an example of how the political class create more jobs for themselves to occupy.

Other major Mayors include the Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, the Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and the Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracey Brabin.

The Conservative Party held referendums in 2012 on whether to introduce directly elected Mayors, held in 11 of England’s biggest cities. 53% of the people who voted in Manchester voted No. 58% of the people who voted in Birmingham voted No. 63% of the people who voted in Coventry voted No. 55% of the people who voted in Bradford voted No. 62% of the people who voted in Wakefield voted No. 63% of the people who voted in Leeds voted No. Of the 11 referendums held, the No vote won 9.

Did the British political class take much notice of this clear display of democratic will? Of course not. Two years later in 2014, George Osbourne as Chancellor announced that Greater Manchester would be given a directly elected metro mayor. Birmingham and the West Midlands had Andy Street imposed on them in 2017. West Yorkshire had the same imposed in 2020 by the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ Minister Simon Clarke. Democracy in action.

The British political class can’t wait to impose more politicians on Britain, it enables them to skirt and evade responsibility/accountability, many layers of government/bureaucracy make it much harder for an individual to be held responsible. Mayors in particular are well suited to this, with national politicians surrendering power to regional politicians to then divert criticism or problems.

Keir Starmer’s new constitution seeks to create 50 more directly elected mayors across Britain, one for every city. The Labour Party will face no opposition to this, the Conservative Party are already implementing more devolution deals, ignoring referendums in the process.

That is 50 more politicians. More jobs for themselves and their friends. More money spent on salaries, office costs, rent, administrative work, travel etc.

Who benefits from devolution, and who benefits from this surrender of power? It is certainly not the British people who have not voted to pay the salaries of more politicians. It is only the British political class, who in their insecurity, unwillingness to wield power and yearning to cement a legacy impose devolution schemes on people who just want better politicians in Westminster.

The people of Bristol voted to abolish their directly elected mayor in 2022. Other areas across England have voted to abolish their directly elected mayor also, such as Stoke-on-Trent in 2008, Hartlepool in 2012 and Torbay in 2016. The future is abolition.

Britain worked perfectly well without third-rate politicians becoming Mayors before 2000. London ran without a Mayor and Assembly from 1986 until 1999, most powers were handed back to the individual boroughs, and when a more centralised approach was needed the government created the Minister for London. There is no reason that this approach cannot be used today.

Britain doesn’t want or need more politicians, it just wants better ones.