David Milband said at an event I was at recently: “A direct mandate gives you much more power in bashing central government”. He’s right, but it’s much more than that too.
Being first out of the blocks for the new wave of city mayors gives us a huge advantage over other core cities. It allows Liverpool to leapfrog our competitors who, over the past 30 years, have been allowed to steal our thunder while we’ve been looking the other way. Liverpool is a world-class city; it’s about time we had a world-class role for our city leader.
An opponent of the scheme said in the council chamber this week that Liverpool was similar to Doncaster and Stoke, and that what failed there will fail here. No offence to Doncaster and Stoke, but that’s not the sort of level Liverpool is playing at.
The elected mayoral model gives us the impetus and momentum needed to come out top during a terrible national economic picture, and it promotes the true needs of the city like nothing else in the post-war period.
We need the private sector to invest here – the enterprise zones will help with that; we need our city leader to be a national figure – the mayoral model provides that; and we need our city pride to be reflected in the national attitude to Liverpool – our new and ongoing positive image will assist with that.
The Capital of Culture gig was great, but it was a one-year hit that, at best, has left a nice legacy. The mayoral model will be there for decades, helping the city to keep being a powerful player years after Joe Anderson’s moved on, and years after the proposed joke candidates like Herbert Howe and Ricky Tomlinson have all been forgotten. The city deal that Cllr Anderson has negotiated on our behalf is only the start.
Having shown our mettle in being bold and negotiating a great deal from government, we’ll be best-placed to attract the sort of interest and investment in Liverpool that will really make a positive difference to the city’s image in the rest of the country, and across Europe and the world.
If we wanted a sign to show our towering ambition as a city, we could do no better than give our city leader a direct mandate to promote the city, attract jobs and investment, and occasionally wield a big stick on behalf of our residents against a Westminster government which is taking more from Liverpool people than Thatcher ever did.
Patrick Hurley is a Councillor for south Liverpool’s Mossley Hill
Main image by Ed Thomas, Flickr