Greater Manchester: Gideon knows best

The people of Manchester voted against a mayor only two years ago. Now, George Osborne has over-ruled them.

Michael Dawson
3 November 2014


Two years ago, the people of Manchester voted against an elected mayor. But today, George Osborne, in a moment of profound wisdom, ignored this completely. Never mind that a regional mayor wasn’t ever mentioned in Osborne’s original plans. Never mind that one, extremely out-of-touch politician can overturn an electorate in less than two weeks of scheming. Gideon, the heir to an aristocratic fortune, clearly knows better than all of those plebs. But what part of ‘no’ does he not understand?

Ominously, these plans were given the go-ahead by the leaders of the region’s ten councils. A cabal of jumped up politicians, their complicity in this shambles reveals only a loyalty to Whitehall, not Mancunians. Indeed, Osborne declared this to be “a massive moment” and it most certainly is. A moment of joy, however, it is definitely not. I ask myself: How did we get to this point? A point in which the political elite can so easily disregard the outcome of a referendum that was held only two years previously. Surely this contravenes our most basic laws? Let this be a wake-up call: The will of the people doesn’t matter one bit and Osborne’s actions are an affront to democracy.

Osborne’s obsession with a London-fits-all template will be disastrous for the people of Manchester. It will secure the power of a few at the expense of the many and undermines the very principles on which a democratic society should be founded. As usual, however, Northerners are not consulted on issues concerning the North. A pre-election gimmick that entrenches the power of those friendly to Whitehall is never a step in the right direction. In fact, it was only last September that over 50,000 Mancunians marched against Austerity, a protest that intentionally coincided with the opening day of the Conservative Party Conference. The people of Manchester are not stupid and sent out a clear message of intent: they refuse to take their medicine and shut up. Mancunians are aware that Austerity measures and the City Regions come from the same people, a sore reminder of Britain’s toxic political climate. Osborne’s Mayor will sit firmly in the back-pocket of Westminster, a power-hungry yes-man whose politics aligns completely with the status quo.

Make no mistake; this has nothing to do with giving power back to ordinary people. It has nothing to do with improving the lives of ordinary Mancunians. Instead, this has everything to do with Osborne’s own ideas of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and, as usual, we, in the North, are moulded to the tune of a career politician from the South-East. If anything signifies the need for a devo-max Northern government, it is this. Today is a turning point in our democracy, or lack thereof and has proven that the North is up for grabs. It has proven that we don’t matter, that we don’t have a say over our lives, over our towns, our cities and over the fate of our families. So, what next? Will we cower at the might of the political establishment or will we fight back? Will we not rally and march and protest against an action that proves, once and for all, that only Northerners should decide the future of the North?


Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData