Enoch Powell

Our Andy, making a difference?

Metro Mayor, the layer of government we could do without.

The Metro Mayor has a plan to spend your moneyThe Metro Mayor has a plan to spend your moneyYour chance to make a difference, or is it? Here come the delayed local elections and we look at the contest for the Metro Mayor(MM) for the West Midlands. The story goes back to the Labour government of Tony Blair. For it was they who began the process and legislation for directly elected mayors. However, the idea was not popular and of the regions offered this only around a third voted for it. Originally Birmingham voted against the proposal in 2012. But then with just a minor tweek to the original scheme the MM project was passed into law in 2017 without another referendum. It was possible for the government to get away with this as the minor tweek to the proposal made it seem they were paying attention to the public:’we hear what you say’. Yes, the situation, the detail, had been changed. Well they would say that! But the over-aching principle of an extra layer of government had been rejected by the previous ballot. So the public were ignored and the government went, so to speak, around the back to get this idea done. Is this important? Yes and could be the root of low voter turnout in the MM elections. To put this episode into perspective we should remember that the government had just ‘lost’ the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Tony Benn

Nationalised treasure and man of conviction

Tony Benn,  1925 -  2014Tony Benn, 1925 - 2014
A decent chap? Probably, but a clever politician? That's not so clear. The death of Tony Benn has brought forth fulsome praise for him as a man and a character. Those with long memories will recall when he joined a cause he became the cause. An ideal radio and TV performer Benn never travelled without his pipe or a ready quip, the press loved both. Benn was not our first national treasure but was in a perverse way 'nationalised' very early on in his political career. It was in this form that he took up the cause of opposing European integration. As Helen Szamuely points out he was on the losing side in 1975. It would be wrong to make out he alone was responsible for the defeat but he was very active. So on the one hand he gets praised for his energy but on the other was too easily seduced by the media and his part of it.

And so to Tony Benn's consistent and ideologically pure euroscepticism that began long before the word was invented. There can be no doubt about its sincerity or that he was motivated to a great extent by a love for Parliament and parliamentary democracy. He was also motivated by a fear that, once in the EEC, Britain would never become the socialist country he wanted it to be.

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