The Government's plan for London is far from perfect. It runs the risk of spreading a luxuriant new foliage of office-holders and advisers above the boroughs. At the same time the mayor may be impotent; the Treasury has ensured there is no financial Viagra around. This will be a mayor whose financial discretion is limited to the scrapings of parking charges. Yet the main issue for most Londoners is transport investment and pricing. In principle a determined mayor would be in a position to lobby, to streamline, to plan. In practice the purse strings are going to be tied tight; already a major option - privatisation of the Tube - has been ruled out by John Prescott. Still, the very existence of a figure able to see how policies for parking, buses, trains, housing and employment intersect must be welcome. Those who argue that the existing machinery broadly works miss the fact that it operates in semi-privacy; Londoners are alienated from the authorities operating in their name.
Which makes it all the more necessary for them to turn out and vote. In Scotland, an expression of the "settled will" of Scottish residents was required - no one doubted it was obtained in last year's referendum. The Welsh margin was slimmer and the momentum behind plans for the Principality correspondingly reduced. If Londoners cannot be bothered, it will be very hard to muster the enthusiasm which the actual contest for mayor in two years' time ought to stimulate.Reuse content