Politicians often claim commitment to decentralising the state, but once in government they are unwilling to relinquish their own power

The nature of the British political system is such that Westminster is a bastion of concentrated power. Martin Smith, Dave Richards and Patrick Diamond argue that whilst politicians may actually call for more localism, they are loath to give up their own power. Any government’s commitment to localism and devolution is undermined where there is no willingness to entertain a new vision of British politics involving a proper re-evaluation of the relationship between the centre and the locality.  Continue reading

Liverpool’s mayoral election ‘censorship’ row

Stuart Wilks-Heeg

This week, every household in Liverpool will receive a booklet from the city council containing election addresses from the 12 candidates seeking to become the city’s first directly-elected mayor.

In theory, this arrangement, which is used for all mayoral elections, helps to level the playing-field for candidates, providing all with an equal chance to reach the electorate. This is especially important for candidates standing for minor parties or as independents, who simply do not have the resources or infrastructure required to leaflet every household in a local authority, particularly one as populous as Liverpool. Continue reading

Who governs? An analysis of 1,101 governing roles on Merseyside

Dave Ellis, 12 October 2011

Last week, Democratic Audit published new research into the governance of Merseyside, compiled by Alex Nurse, Stuart Wilks-Heeg and myself. The research was undertaken to inform our ‘Who governs Merseyside?‘ project, organised in conjunction with the Bluecoat, a Liverpool-based arts centre. Published as a new Democratic Audit report, the research examines the scale and organisation of the public, private and voluntary sectors on Merseyside, as well as the role of the local media. It forms one part of the wider project’s attempts to identify who has the power to shape and determine public policy on Merseyside. Continue reading

Who governs Merseyside? The significance of Heseltine’s new report

Stuart Wilks-Heeg

Anyone who took part in our ‘Who governs Merseyside?‘ event at the Bluecoat on 6 October will surely attest that the quality of the debate was exceptionally high. The ‘expert panel’ more than lived up to its billing, despite the fact that two of its members were unable to attend on the night. Yet, we barely needed an expert panel, such was the quality of the contributions from the audience.

One such contribution came from Professor Peter Batey, one of my colleagues at the University of Liverpool. Professor Batey suggested that if the object of the exercise was to measure influence over the long term, then Michael Heseltine was surely a name that should be in the mix. Continue reading