An Elected Mayor for Liverpool?
A new campaign has been launched by local figure Liam Fogarty today for an Elected Mayor in Liverpool. If nothing else, such a move will perhaps encourage a healthy debate about the democratic process and accountability, and perhaps more.
Today has seen the emergence of a campaign for Liverpool to have an Elected Mayor. The first step if this campaign is to succeed is to obtain enough signatures to trigger a referendum on the matter – no small challenge in itself.
The campaign, headed by ex-BBC presenter Liam Fogarty, claims that in Liverpool ‘too many decisions are taken by invisible committees and un-elected officials. Important projects fail to materialise, yet no-one takes responsibility.’
‘Only an Elected Mayor can provide the vision and leadership needs at this crucial time in the City’s history,’ we are told. This, of course, is a reference to the much-trumpeted events in Liverpool of 2007 and 2008, which certainly require great cultural leadership, skill and planning if they are to succeed.
The democratic deficit
But it is also claimed that an Elected Mayor would re-involve people in democratic process. They would be more likely to vote and become engaged in local decision-making if there were such a person. Perhaps this is true.
Whatever, there is a serious case for any sort of initiative which takes local political involvement more into the community. It would probably be worth a try – though interestingly, so far only 12 towns and cities of those which have considered having an Elected Mayor have actually gone along that option in the end.
Previous mayoral campaigns
This is not however the first time that there has been a campaign for an Elected Mayor. In 2000 the media group Aurora took up the cudgels, publishing with other organisations a book entitled Manifesto for a New Liverpool [see also ‘cultural leadership’, above], in which the case was made for such a civic leader.
Only time will tell whether this is an enduring and positive initiative. This time as far as I can see there is a strong pro-cities but anti-regional sentiment there too, and that second position (pro-cities is fine, anti-region in my books isn’t) convinces me less than does the case for democracy at grass roots.
But for the time being I suppose it’s enough to feel heartened that people are energised to do what they believe is best for Liverpool, putting heads above parapets and saying what they think. Now that really is democarcy in action.