Letter: A government that Londoners can call their own

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Institute for Metropolitan Studies is not alone in its belief that London needs city-wide government. Clear majorities of Londoners and Britons voted on 9 April for parties committed to London government. That we got a secret Cabinet committee instead points to the nub of the problem: democracy - or the corrosive lack of it.

There are undoubtedly difficulties a revived London council would face, both of constitution and of effective action confronted by great tasks. Your editorial (6 July), though, verges on an attitude of permitting democracy if you find it to your taste.

The commitment must be to a means of government for London that is of and for Londoners, not one hung about with caveats from the outset. Your aside at borough government, for example, has merit, but even where justified you ignore the quality of administration that results from a legislative mugging unique in modern British political history. Competence and imagination are not the first qualities promoted among elected members by spending six months of the year cutting budgets and the remainder coping with the rest of the Government's programme. More a sense of 'Why on earth am I doing this?'.

Therefore, by all means unbundle difficulties of modern local democracy, but please do so as advocate, not quibbler. Londoners voted for the restoration of their political voice. This is not to happen, so we need the strong, clear voices of others to speak up for us, not talk us down.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN LOCK

Newham Council

London, E6

7 July

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