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Mayors Shine as National Politics Falls into Disarray

By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

As a glass half full type of guy, I am usually able to see the positives in most things, but as we enter week four of 2018 I am struggling to muster anything other than despair and disdain for those politicians who are leading us at a national government level.

Following on from her reshuffle shambles which I covered here last week, Theresa May has had another week to forget as she and her ministers have been embroiled in the Carilion chaos.

As unpopular as this may be, I would have supported a bail-out of a company that has its tentacles in so many crucial infrastructure pies. A Conservative government that is so weak as to back off from intervening from supporting a private sector giant is a sign of the times I’m afraid.

In all but name, May and her ministers could have ‘nationalised’ Carilion, saved thousands of jobs, secured the confidence of the huge SME supply chain, and protected taxpayers investment.

Instead, they ran away from the controversy and negative headlines that they would have inevitably suffered on the back of such a move. However, as strong (and stable) governments know, doing the right thing for the long-term is not necessarily the popular thing in the short-term. But you do it anyway. The fact that this administration failed to adopt that adage is further evidence that we are being governed by a weak and wobbly bunch who are getting by from day-to-day, if not hour-to-hour.

Of course, St Jeremy of Islington was able to take advantage of this latest misfortune for Mrs May at Prime Ministers Question Time on Wednesday when, among other things, he was able to point out the illogicality of awarding so many contracts to a company that had issued a credit warning.

I would actually go further and suggest that a smart government would have been spreading its ‘risk’ on the scale of the contracts it was overseeing here, credit warning or not!

As much as the leader of the opposition had the PM on the hook in Westminster this week, back at the Labour Party ranch, his mates were confirming that attacking its own MPs and National Executive Committee members are far more important to them.

This is (one of) the problems with Corbyn’s brand of politics. It is small time. It is nasty. It is regressive.

Momentum, led by a hard- left apparatchik who has been around since Adam was a lad, Jon Lansman, is at least as excited by the prospect of ‘cleansing’ the Labour Party of New Labour ‘traitors’ as he is of overturning the Tories parliamentary majority.

For this reason, and others, of course, the prospect of a Labour government anytime soon, is remote.

It would be easy, against this backdrop, to give up on politics and politicians altogether. But, the elected mayors that we have in Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham restore your faith. Where you have passionate, committed leaders with a plan, you see the usefulness and purpose of strong political leadership.

Steve Rotheram, Andy Burnham, and Andy Street are all doing things and delivering on issues that matter in their regions. Its why I’m proud of Downtown’s role in campaigning for devolution and elected mayors- and why we’ll be campaigning for more of it in 2018.

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