.... And the turnout was over 45%, a postwar London election record.
Who says the Mayoral system is bad for local democracy?
The adoption of the directly elected mayoral model for local government has been a running sore with cthe Lib Dems ever since ex party member
There have been half a dozen televised debates, passionate arguments about congestion charges, bendy buses and community support officers; as well as a constant analysis of the problems and potential solutions to Londoners complaints and frustrations which would have been unimaginable had these elections been for the old GLC.
Londoners have been given clear, alternative options fronted by clear, alternative personalities to vote for refreshingly free of the kind of petty-minded, "yes he did; no he didn't" squabbling that epitimises most local election contests. And as a direct result the turnout was significantly higher than at any
From the democratic standpoint, the Boris has had his policies thoroughly analysed and publicisied so there will be no wriggle room for backtracking later. This is terribly important because one of the alarming side effects of low interest/low turnout local elections has always been that ruling administrations usually win with very few of their electorate having a clue what it is they actually promised to do, making it impossible to hold them accountable for failure.
The evidence in London fully supports my alternative view that having a directly elected mayor is the best way to regenerate local politics and re-engage the public in this vital tier of Government. I don't remember any local election with this level of interest; in fact I can't remember any political contest outside of a General Election that has garnered such fascination and detailed analysis from the media and in turn from the public. For several weeks now the London Mayoralty has come second only to Gordon Browns woes in the column inches and media time which is measured daily on Politics Home.com
It is true that the mayor has control of the main levers of power and yes, the Mayor doesn’t have to engage in the kind of committee compromise and smoke-filled room bargaining that went on under the old system - but surely that is one of the main benefits? Clear, accountable and above all open leadership is infinitely preferable to unaccountable fudge and compromise behind closed doors.
By endlessly complaining that the mayoral system is no good, by determining to abolish it and return Torbay to the cosy cartel that existed pre 2005 (when anonymous and unaccountable councillors felt free to increase their pay by 65% while slashing services and piling on taxes with impunity) the Liberal Democrats are playing with fire. They have put themselves in the same impossible situation that we Tories did in
In short the evidence shows that the public engage more with a mayoral election, they understand more clearly what a Mayoral candidate wants to do with the power he is asking for, and once elected voters can judge him on his performance more easily.
And at the end of his or her term, if they are not happy, they can chuck him out and elect someone else. I think
I thinkthat is surely good for democracy and good for local Government.