56% support directly-elected mayors. The three main parties, at Westminster, are very much in favour of elected mayors and decentralising the state; even Police Commissioners have seen relative support from local residents, with 69% confirming they will vote in the elections (ComRes poll latest November). Oddly enough, though, some local branches of Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are dead against these reforms – especially elected city mayors.
In Sheffield, for example, council workers-along with their unions-are out campaigning against an elected mayor, Ed Miliband is out campaigning for the opposite. The Lib Dem-run Bristol City Council is desperately trying to resist a democratic mayor, even though the Liberal Demcorats are the party of localism.
Why are local councilors against elected mayors? Well, the answer is simply.
These councilors and councils fear change; they fear a mayor, with a bigger mandate than the council, would break up the status quo and open up the established political order to new candidates. The prospect of a freshly elected mayor, walking into city hall and bringing accountability, transparency and modernising operations is politically terrifying for some councilors; London, however, has benefited enormously from devolution.
All cities, not just major urban populations, should have an elected city mayor.