Wednesday 21 October 2020

Confrontation: the UK way

In the paper last Friday (Guardian 16 October) was a short item saying that  the heads of Germany's 16 federal states had agreed  on new uniform restrictions to contain [coronavirus] outbreaks.  Two examples were given:

  • in cities and regions with more than 35 infections  per 100 000 over a seven-day period, masks to be worn in all public places:
  •  .....with more than 50 cases, private gatherings be limited to 10...bars and restaurants  ordered to close at 11pm.

The item did not mention the role of the central government in coming to these agreements  but this site:

gives a fairly comprehensive account of what is being done, and it all seems urgent, competent, co-operative  and amiable.

By contrast, in the UK Downing Street is in gladiatorial combat with the directly-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham (in much  the same way as we are told our Brexiteer negotiators are "head to head" with the EU in Brussels).

 Burnham claims, from the heart and speaking for the people, that the government is  playing a "game of poker with people's lives" and "levelling down rather than up."

 Downing Street claims that Burnham is "playing politics" and polishing his ego.

Who is surprised?  

 Who was it that insisted various local government areas and city regions should have "directly elected mayors," thus concentrating political power into one individual rather than a group, whether thy wanted them or not?

The very notion of "directly- elected mayor" is designed to place personality above policies and attract the show-off rather than the  person with a serious concern for the area (cf Johnson himself  as Mayor of London, though Burnham  is probably at the opposite end of the spectrum).

We in Yorkshire, and that seems to include individuals and councils of all stripes) have  said repeatedly that we do not want a directly-elected mayor:  we want a Regional Assembly of elected members who will choose our own leader in the customary manor. 

 But we're going to get a directly elected mayor (at least we in West Yorkshire are: the central government seems to be terrified of an all-Yorkshire authority with a population similar to that of Scotland, which is what even the Tory Yorkshire Post would like (along with the as yet non-Lord Sentamu.)

But no: the UK way is the clash of the titans (or perhaps the clash of the tinies)  Might, with a parliamentary majorly of 80, is right and the rest must fall into line

Clearly whatever is best for us, be it three different Tiers for different areas, or a "circuit breaker" or, as a recent letter in the paper suggests, learning to live with the virus with a series of two-weeks "circuit breaker," six weeks "normal", two weeks "circuit breaker" . . .) unless and until a vaccine is found and the pandemic recedes, needs the consent of the public.

Without that consent  whatever is chosen, and no one can be sure what is right, will be less effective, more people will suffer from long-covid, and more people will die.




  1. Off course Johnson want Mayor figures.He loved all the attention plowed on him in London it boosted his ego. He forgot that other people can also have ego's AND be concerned with doing the job of protecting his turf.He does not like non rubber stampers thinking he is all powerful with his 80 majority.It can lead to division,a clash between 'boys',us and them with others taking the hit.
    Me too wants a 'coalition of the willing' when running a region where all can get together tosolve difficulties.

    1. My friend Michael Meadowcroft has pointed out in a letter to the Yorkshire Post that 18 out of 22 local government bodies in the county of Yorkshire have backed a "One Yorkshire" proposal, but are ignored. the government is only democratic when it likes what it hears, like the very narrow majority 52/48 majority for Brexit in a 70% poll.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.