Leading Article: Mersey beat

THE LIVERPOOL Democracy Commission wants the city to have a directly elected mayor, just like the one in London. Liverpudlians should be made up at the news.

Any city that found itself still living down the reputation of the Militant tendency, and which has seen turnouts in local elections slump to just 6 per cent, might think that something new was worth a try. True, the race to be mayor of London has descended into farce. But then London, for all its size, its supposed prestige and its meretricious attractions, doesn't have as large a pool of talent as Liverpool. For the Labour nomination, they could choose one of their excellent MPs, such as Jane Kennedy or Peter Kilfoyle. Or they could opt for that well-known actor-politician Tony Booth, the original scouse git and star of Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976), who enjoys excellent connections with 10 Downing Street.

On the right, Steve Norris is a fine former minister, unfairly overlooked by his party in London and a toffeeman to boot. Of course, Nozza would have to take his chances with more glamorous Conservatives, such as Jimmy Tarbuck and Cilla Black. And what a wonderful day for Ken Dodd to take his tickling stick to the real issues. Or for Derek "Deggsy" Hatton might attempt the biggest comeback since Lazarus. (But watch for taxis scurrying round delivering leaflets.)

A farce it may in the end turn out to be, but it will be an infinitely more entertaining one than those scallies in London have so far managed.

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