Updated: Oct 1, 2020
The Mayor of Manchester's politically shrewd and practically nimble response to the Covid-19 pandemic is in marked contrast to the lumbering response from an over-centralised Whitehall machine observes Bagehot in this week’s Economist.
As a former health secretary Andy Burnham ought to know. "Whitehall operates in departmental silos," he says. "A regional mayor can integrate them and forge policies that suit the city-region’s particular needs."
We are told that the Prime Minister and Michael Gove are firm believers in pushing for devolved government as a model for the future despite predictable opposition from vested interests. If so, argues Bagehot, they don’t need to look too far back in history for an exemplary model:
“Victorian England was a land of mighty cities and powerful local economies that celebrated their success in magnificent civic buildings. Some of Britain’s most powerful politicians, such as Joseph Chamberlain on the Liberal side and Herbert Morrison on the Labour side, made their names as mayors. The ground has been prepared for a return to a better balance.” Back to the future one might say.
For non-subscribers to the Economist, here is a link to the pdf file below: