Monday, October 30, 2006

Probably the worst article in the world

For some reason, the Birmingham Post handed over a half-page to an article allegedly penned by Cllr Jim Whorwood - a former Liberal Democrat Lord Mayor - to oppose government proposals for an elected mayor for Birmingham. The article was so well-argued that I've very nearly converted to supporting the idea of an elected mayor. Sadly, it isn't on the web yet.

He accuses Sir Digby Jones of closet republicanism for backing the campaign for an elected mayor - the logic being that an elected mayor would lead to an elected Prime Minister and thus to the downfall of the House of Windsor and possibly the end of life on earth as we know it. Cllr Whorwood says that there are three reasons for the interest of the 'motley assortment of business leaders' in an elected executive:
'If one person had ultimate responsibility it would be easier for central government to get its way. Taking a silly hypothetical example, if 50,000 Martians landed in the UK, central government coul easily persuade - with bribes - the Leader to provide accommodation in one of our parks. The bribe could be cash plus a seat in the Lords. You can't bribe 120 councillors.'
Cracking argument. Don't do it, because the leader might be bent. That's actually the strongest argument, only slightly ruined by the nutty line about the Martians - perhaps he's been talking to Lembit. Anyway, you don't need to bribe 120 councillors under the current system - a wad of cash splashed towards the leader and cabinet would do the job. His words remind me of Humbert Wolfe's epigram
You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to.
Which brings us on to Cllr Whorwood's next concern
'The Labour Party lost leadership of the council and is very sore. To get its own back, it ignores the successes of the present administration and snipes.'

Damn right we're sore - and so are the people of our city. Thing is, we can't ignore things that don't exist, Councillor Whorwood. We've seen precious little success, a marked lack of forward thinking and a failure of leadership at the highest level that has thrown the progress of our City into sharp reverse. So yeah, guilty as charged. However, if you actually believe that the party is united behind the idea of an elected mayor as a way of getting back at the Regressive Partnership then you are sorely mistaken.
'Certain people are trying to get a top job via the back door.'
Probably true. The Post has been campaigning for an elected mayor for a while, with the ill-disguised intention of getting Digby Jones into the top spot. Mind you, there is a degree of irony in the Liberal Democrats accusing anyone of getting a job via the back door. After all, Sunny Jim Whorwood only has his exalted spot at the Cabinet table as a result of Hemming's dodgy deal in 2004.

There are far better arguments against an elected mayor, but Cllr Whorwood ignores them all.


snowflake5 said...

Reading through your blog, I'm intrigued by how closely you observe Lib Dems. You don't fancy doing a piece on their weaknesses and strengths do you? It would help as some of us find them confusing!

Praguetory said...

I hope these Martians are very small if we're going to provide them accommodation to them at the drop of a brown envelope.

Sounds like Jim has a healthy mistrust of central government and is a Brummie, a patriot and a monarchist. Reminds me of Tony Beaumont-Dark.

When he said Martians maybe he really meant Croydonians.