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About this book

Interest in the governance of London has remained high in the years following the election of a London mayor and all the twists and turns of Mayor Livingstone's term of office, including struggles with Whitehall and the boroughs. Written by a leading authority, The Politics of London provides a definitive critique of the politics, administration and government of one of the world's leading cities and recommends major changes to the capital's government to address its longstanding crisis of governability.

Table of Contents

1. London in Context

Abstract
Governing London is a complex business. The city’s vast population, its geography and history conspire to make the British capital an unusually difficult place to govern. The election of a city-wide Greater London Authority in May 2000 brought into being the fourth system of metropolitan government within 35 years. By contrast, New York City has had a single system of government since 1898. The regularity with which London’s government is reorganized suggests there is something unusual about the pressures that affect successive systems.
Tony Travers

2. The Struggle to Govern London

Abstract
The creation of the Greater London Authority is the latest chapter in a long history of metropolitan reform and change. The relationship between the national government and the capital city has been complicated and difficult for centuries. Because of the concentration of population, economic activity, politics and culture in London, central governments have always been concerned about the potential and actual threat of London self-government. Almost since Edward the Confessor founded a new palace at Westminster in the eleventh century, there has been a struggle between the political power of central government at Westminster and the independent economic power of the City of London. London played a crucial part in the Roundhead victory in the Civil War: ‘but for the City the Parliament never could have made the war’ wrote Thomas Hobbes.
Tony Travers

3. Metropolitan Millennium: The Road to Reform, 1997–2000

Abstract
Despite years in the political wilderness at the national level, Labour was powerful in local government throughout the country in 1997. Having been in power nationally for a very long time, the Conservatives had seen their — traditionally strong — local power-base badly eroded. Indeed, Mrs Thatcher’s visible dislike for much of local democracy had evidently demoralized many of her party’s local workers. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats won seats in what had previously been Tory heartlands, notably the South East region surrounding London. Within the capital, traditional Conservative strongholds such as Croydon, Harrow and Redbridge had fallen to the centre-left. In many cities beyond London (such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle) the Tories held no seats at all. Within the capital, only Westminster, Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea remained impregnable.
Tony Travers

4. The Greater London Authority: Creating a New Institution

Abstract
The first year of any new body is important: customs and practices will be adopted that influence its operation for many years. The GLA’s decisions about standing orders, procedures, relations between the assembly and mayor and many other features evolved immediately after May 2000 in ways that will affect it for years to come. Yet many ways of doing things were not set in stone by 2003 and could be radically changed in the longer term. Certainly, another mayor could adopt very different ways of relating to the assembly. The assembly will have evolved their own procedures significantly before the second election in 2004.
Tony Travers

5. Capital Idea? The GLA in Practice

Abstract
No one could have known how the GLA Act would work in practice. British government institutions, at the national, regional and local level, develop organically within their original legislative framework. The new London arrangements were no exception. By the end of the first year of the GLA’s existence, both the mayor and assembly had (separately) considered their methods of operation. Day-to-day running of the Authority had made clear a number of strengths and weaknesses in the original legislation. In this chapter, we analyse the key institutions of the GLA: the Mayor’s Office, the assembly, the GLA staff and the functional bodies, and the relations between them.
Tony Travers

6. Boroughs, Quangos and Partnerships: The Wider Governance of London

Abstract
The shift from government to governance in London has involved more than just the creation of the mayor and the assembly.
Tony Travers

7. A Very British Mayor?

Abstract
The search for an effective and acceptable form of metropolitan government is far from unique to London. Across Europe and North America other cities have struggled to define institutions and systems which balance the competing goals of economic growth, social cohesion and democratic accountability. In this chapter London’s new governance is put in comparative context. It looks first at the general issues of metropolitan governance in different cities across the developed world, and then goes on to look in more detail at some specific comparisons between London’s mayor and those in some other major cities.
Tony Travers

8. Is London Ungovernable?

Abstract
The creation of a mayor and assembly for London in 2000 was undertaken, in good faith, by a government that believed the city needed a new, elected, city-wide administration. There had been clear evidence from opinion polls that Londoners supported such an institution. The abolition of the Greater London Council (GLC) in 1986 was still seen by many Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians as a spiteful intervention by an ideologically-driven government. Moreover, all London’s international competitor cities had a mayor, or a city council, or both. Why should the British capital be different?
Tony Travers
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