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As Andy Burnham Notes, Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste

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Andy Burnham has done rather the Rahm Emmanuel move. Leave central government and that source of central government power to establish oneself as a big city mayor out there in the regions. Power may be dispersed over geography but it is centralised in that location. And what does a politician want other than the power to direct the lives of others?

A pretty good career move for those desirous of power over others that is.

At which point we get Andy Burnham and his comments on the lifting of lockdown:

Revolt over easing of lockdown spreads as poll slump hits PM
Manchester mayor unleashes fury at Johnson plan, while public approval for government strategy plummets

Revolt and fury look a little tabloid for the Observer to be using there. Some whingeing by a local politician might be a more reasonable description. But what is the actual complaint?

In a further sign of discord, the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, writing in today’s Observer, says no one thought to tell the leaders of the biggest towns and cities outside London in advance of the prime minister’s decision to encourage people to go back to work last Monday.

“In Greater Manchester, we had no real notice of the measures. On the eve of a new working week, the PM was on TV ‘actively encouraging’ a return to work. Even though that would clearly put more cars on roads and people on trams, no one in government thought it important to tell the cities who’d have to cope with that.”

Well, sorta and then again maybe not. A Mayor doesn’t have to “deal” with people driving their car. That’s something dealt with by the people driving their car. It’s rather the point of the technology in fact, that the individual may – and can – decide where they want to go and when without bowing to the local Gauleiter. And it’s not as if Andy’s got to go build some new roads by Monday morning, is it?

As to the trams I’m also pretty sure that there’s a transport company there. With managers, schedulers and all that. No one really does expect – despite his accent – Andy to be the dispatcher for the system, do they?

That is, the Mayor’s duty in dealing with transport is possibly a bit of light long term planning and after that observing the system working. He ain’t a Fat Controller. This part of the muttering is really just “I’m important, me. Why aren’t you treating me as being important?”

But that’s not actually the point of the whine. This is:

In his article, Burnham says mayors outside London should be invited onto the Cobra emergency committee, to counter what he says is a “London-centric” approach.

There’s a crisis. Or at least the lifting of the lockdown can be claimed to be a crisis. And the point of a crisis is not to allow it to go to waste. Thus the call that Andy Burnham should gain more power. Not because this is a crisis, nor because Andy Burnham should gain more power, but because a crisis allows Andy Burnham to dress up the call for Andy Burnham to have more power.

As to the actual proposal of putting regional Mayors on Cobra that defeats the point of Cobra. Which is that some things – emergencies – require shouting sod local democracy and consultation we’ve got to do this and we’ve got to do it right now. Expanding the committee just negates the very point of it.

The actual point of this part of the whine being “I’m Andy Burnham. I’m important, me. Gissa Job.” For how are people to know Andy Burnham is important if he’s not given a job directing the nation in a time of crisis?

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