For the long-term future of Britain, perhaps, the most important
contests today are the mayoral referendums in 11 of Britain’s biggest cities. For elected mayors offer the best chance of urban renewal.

As recently as the ‘70s people described Birmingham as the city of the future. No one would say that now. But a mayor might just be able to give Britain’s sclerotic second city the
leadership it needs. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a mayor could be worse than the Tory-Lib Dem council that currently runs the city which "http://conservativehome.blogs.com/localgovernment/2012/01/birmingham-backs-free-schools-and-academies.html">opposed education reform for far too long.

Liverpool has already decided to have a mayor and is electing one today. None of the candidates are particularly inspirational or impressive. But I still suspect that having a mayor will make
Liverpool a better-run place than it was before.

Tags: Birmingham, Democracy, Elected mayors, Elections, Liverpool, Local elections, Local government, Referendum, UK politics