Reforming Local Government in England: An Examination of the Blairite Agenda

Andy ASQUITH

Abstract


This article examines the impact of the reformist agenda implemented in English local government since the election in 1997 of the first Blair government. Under 18 years of Conservative administrations (1979-1997), English local government had survived what some described as a legislative onslaught which had been designed to direct, control and remove functions from local authorities. Against this background, the first Blair administration inherited a system of local government upon which it would depend for key policy implementation. However, many within the Blair inner circles were deeply suspicious as to the motivations and capacity of local government to deliver on these key policies. The result therefore was a widespread overall of how local authorities were to be managed and importantly how they were to connect with their respective communities. As the article will examine, one of the key strategies for achieving Blair’s objectives was to be, in terms of the UK, both a radical and controversial innovation. Central to the Blairite agenda was the introduction to the UK of the concept of a directly elected mayor.


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