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Britain, as yet neither mature nor a democracy, appears to need its monarch and its mayors

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The rational case against metro mayors ably set out by Richard Hatcher, George Morran and Steve Beauchampé, has been shattered for the writer by the media-feeding chaotic, emotion-led, vicious, counterproductive squabbling in the Labour & Conservative ranks.

Still, evidently, a tribal people, we appear to need the ‘high-profile leadership’ extolled by Andrew Carter, chief executive of the Centre for Cities , largest funders Gatsby Charitable Foundation (Lord Sainsbury) and  Catapult network, established by Innovate UK, a government agency. (see report cover right)

As yet, the announcements made by the West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street, respected even by most opponents of the post, with a business record seen as a guarantee of efficiency, are provoking little dissension.

Dan Jarvis, who is expected to win the Sheffield election becoming Britain’s seventh metro mayor, intends to continue to sit in the House of Commons to work for a better devolution deal and speak for the whole county. (map, regions in 2017)

His desire to stay in parliament while serving as a mayor is thought, by the author of FT View to reflect a recognition that the real authority and power of these positions is limited:

  • The six mayors have no say on how taxes are raised and spent.
  • Outside Greater Manchester, the mayors have little control over health policy.
  • Major spending decisions on transport policy are still taken by central government.

Days after taking office in Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham’s announcement of a new fund to tackle the region’s homelessness problem was backed by ‘a chunk’ of his own mayoral salary.

Andrew Carter points out that England’s mayors are highly constrained in their control over local tax revenue and how it is spent, compared with their counterparts in other countries.

FT View describes this extra layer of government as yet merely creating cheerleaders, adding:

“Voices alone will not be enough to shift economic and political power to the regions. England’s mayors need more control. If the government is serious about devolution, the mayors need the powers to match that ambition”.

 

Could well-endowed, unsuborned metro mayors out-perform successive corporate-bound national governments?

 

 

 

 

 

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Gordon Brown: the Labour Party needs a leader who is radical, credible and electable, someone who gives hope – Jeremy Corbyn

Under Corbyn the haves will have a little less and the have nots will have a little hope writes author Steve Beauchampé, in the Birmingham Press article summarised below.

He voices the thoughts of so many: “I did not vote for Labour in the 2015 General Election. I have not voted for the party since before Tony Blair and his New Labour ideologues ascended to power in the mid-1990s. But should Jeremy Corbyn win the current leadership contest and lead the party into the 2020 General Election, it is quite possible that I will give Labour my vote”.

This is not because Corbyn is a conviction politician (rather than a politician who should be convicted, a description applicable to several of his critics)

Again, voicing the reasoning of so many, Steve will ‘quite possibly’ give his vote because he is “in broad agreement with many of his policies and am sympathetic to the kind of society that he aims to create”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s overarching vision involves the creation of a form of social democracy that appears not dissimilar to that championed by the SNP:

“The society Corbyn envisages differs vastly to that produced by the ultra free market economy so loved by George Osborne and many luminaries of the New Labour era, an always and ever open for business society where everything has its price, but nothing is valued, money is power and the vulnerable are scorned”.

But to portray Corbyn as anti-business is incorrect

“Although he is committed to policies designed to narrow Britain’s increasing wealth gap, and to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable are not scapegoated for the results of a banking crisis and subsequent recession for which they were not responsible, he is supportive of those businesses who behave responsibly to their employees, customers and the environment whilst also being cognisant of their impact upon wider society”.

Steve comments that in most western democracies (Ed: especially Scandinavian) most proposals in Corbyn’s programme would be regarded as routine social democracy. Only in the context of a political centre ground that has travelled inexorably to the right for much of the last 35 years, and particularly since 2010, are they viewed as extreme.

He adds several paragraphs about Corbyn proposals, listed here:

  • a high tax economy for the wealthy,
  • a low tax economy for the poor,
  • increased public spending,
  • re-nationalisation of the railways (by not renewing private sector franchises),
  • nationalisation of private utilities in the energy sector,
  • removal of all elements of privatisation from the NHS,
  • bringing free schools and academies under effective local authority control
  • re-introducing rent controls to reduce the amount the state pays to private landlords,
  • strengthening those democratically accountable local institutions laid waste, first by New Labour, and then by Osborne’s austerity mantra,
  • improved and more sympathetic working conditions and practices,
  • rebalancing the economy away from a reliance on financial services to the manufacturing sector,
  • tightening banking regulations (Osborne intends relaxing them further),
  • re-introducing a 50% rate of income tax,
  • raising corporation tax (currently at a historically low level) by 0.5%, as a means of paying for the abolition of tuition fees
  • and creating an investment bank to stimulate investment and growth.

There’s much more – the scrapping of Trident, Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, a substantial increase in the number of ‘affordable’ homes being built (at the expense of ones property speculators can afford), including those by local authorities, opposition to fracking and the creation of an elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords.

Corbyn’s agenda for devolution includes a loosening of Treasury controls over Local Enterprise Partnerships, a re-balancing of transport policy away from the South East and opposition to the imposition of metro-Mayors without approval via a local referendum.

A raft of measures designed to reverse the Conservative’s unrelenting discrimination against the economic and social rights of under-25s

Corbyn has stated that apprentices would be paid the minimum wage, young people would no longer be denied housing benefit simply because they are young and would no longer need fear the debt laden future after graduation. He continues:

“This broad sweep of policies gives lie to the myth that a Jeremy Corbyn-led administration offers nothing more than a return to the politics of the 1980s, that he would make Labour the party of protest, permanently in opposition. On the contrary, many of his ideas offer forward thinking answers to contemporary issues. For sure he proposes to finally right certain ideologically driven decisions that were taken under Thatcher and Blair, but so he should, these were wrong then and are still wrong today”.

Moving away from the New Labour era, an always and ever open for business society where everything has its price, but nothing is valued, money is power and the vulnerable are scorned: “As former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said, the Labour Party needs a leader who is radical, credible and electable, someone who gives hope. That would be Jeremy Corbyn then”.

Read the whole article here: http://thebirminghampress.com/2015/08/anyone-but-the-other-three/