In his opposition to metro mayors, Southport Lib Dem MP, John Pugh, claims there is a danger of “corruption, cronyism, community marginalisation [and] the democratic deficit”. In doing so, he shows not only his ignorance of the Government’s proposals on devolution, but how those who, for their own political ends, smear and mislead people about the issues at stake
The devolution offer from Government is just that: an offer. Nothing more nothing less. If regions want more powers and fiscal responsibility they have to modernise their governance structure, allowing the people of the region to elect a metro mayor.
This Government, which is in power for five more years, has decided that’s the way it is going to be, so we either have to accept that and work with them to get the best deal for everyone in the Merseyside city region or we bury our heads in the sand and let other areas grasp this opportunity – at our expense.
Pugh accuses the metro mayor model – which is not even in place yet – of being open to abuse and corruption. This from a man who is part of a parliamentary system that left us with the chaos of the MPs’ expenses scandal, with many of Pugh’s colleagues taking money for second and third jobs.
Of course in any democratic system there is the possibility of corruption as was the case with the parliamentary one. But the good ones far outnumber any corrupt ones. Mr Pugh also claims a metro mayor would be another layer of bureaucracy, again, not true; it would be another layer of democracy allowing the electorate of the region to decide its priorities for the first time.
The fact is, Mr Pugh would have you believe that Southport will lose out if there is a metro mayor, but fails to explain how and why this would be the case.
He, like other opponents, wants to create the myth that a mayor, wherever he or she was from, would take powers away from the other parts of Merseyside for the benefit of the area they come from.
He fails to understand that a metro mayor would be elected by people across the whole region to serve the whole region not one area of it. The elected Mayor would speak on behalf of 1.4 million people giving a strong voice to all parts of Merseyside.
This is not about Liverpool taking powers from the other districts. It is simply wrong to suggest that Wirral or Knowsley or anyone else would not have the right to run their own services It is nonsense to suggest these proposals will suck power away from each other, it is all about taking power and control of our own destiny away from London.
Southport is a jewel in the crown of the region but imagine what it could be like with a metro mayor helping bring in new investment, improve transport, and work with the council, MPs and others to get a better deal from Whitehall?
This is the prize on offer and we should not be distracted by John Pugh’s scare-mongering.