I’m less certain than he seems about the benefits.
I think that Ken, by instinct, is a centraliser although it may be that this is hightened by the end of the telescope he has when looking at London. But, if you look at the interview I can’t see that he’s all that concerned about his accountability – except through the ballot box. For example, he talks quite dismissively about only needing to get his budget through, which we all know means throwing a few tid-bits to Darren J and his Green friends (something that I suspect Ken’s happy to do as that fits his politics anyway). And he hasn’t got much time for councillors.
Maybe Ken sees the super-boroughs as adding a useful balance to the Mayoral power, but I’m not sure that’s his priority.
Anyway this debate shouldn’t just be seen through the Ken prism. How about what it feels like from the other end?
Personally, I quite like the idea of parishing, but not at the expense of representative democracy. I think there are good reasons why we need multi-layered accountability rather than the wisdom of crowds.
And I worry that by removing politics to the sub-regional we’ll remove what little connection there is between individual politician and geographical location and accountability. I know that most of us don’t know who our local councillor is, but I’ll bet its more than know who represents us at the GLA. I also worry about politics becoming (being) the preserve of professional politicians. I rather like the mix of people who put themselves forward for election to councils and removing working people from that mix would be a big mistake.
This isn’t to say that the current system is ideal, as The Inspector points out we’ve got a long way to go to create a dialogue even at the local level which he nails as being about:
having respect for the people who you’re meant to serve and having the imagination to do things in new ways that involve them, instead of dictating from the top to a diverse set of communities who probably aren’t listening.
But, I can’t see super-boroughs being more accountable, more listening. That will take a different type of political imagination.