Has anyone heard any gossip about the Government’s plans for elected mayors in cities? It very much isn’t going to affect me, but I find it fascinating that something which has had such mixed success is nonetheless the received wisdom across much of the political class. I puzzled at the time of the original phrasing as to what a “confirmatory referendum” was, as distinct from a referendum.
The leading contender for an explanation was simply that the process would be begun, and the referendums would be a part of that process. Then the Financial Times had a weird story just over a month ago stating that the referendums would be not a choice on whether to have a mayoral system or not, but a vote on whether the current Council leader should remain as the Mayor until the natural end of their term of office, or whether a new election should happen immediately.
This seemed surreal to me, and was dismissed almost right away by the usually well-informed Harry Phibbs on ConservativeHome’s local government blog, so I thought it must be someone getting the wrong end of a very long stick, but recently I’ve been hearing the same line from some generally reliable sources. I don’t know, therefore, whether there is substance to it, or whether it’s just recycled gossip coming round the loop a second time.