Leach and Wilson

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 3364F/G
Timothy Cobban

URBAN ELITES IN ENGLAND – MODELS OF EXECUTIVE GOVERNANCE; LEACH WILSON INTRODUCTION  Political leadership in urban England is in the process of transformation  Leadership in local government is now a more expansive activity, requiring leaders to interact with others local stakeholders  The pressures for change in leadership task priorities and style have already come up against the reality of the long term cultural traditions of local politics in urban England  Although in due course a transformation in urban political leadership is likely, the rate of progress to that end is likely to be differential, and in many cases tardy THE CHANGING OPERATION CONTEXT  The 1976-2003 period has seen a significant reduction in the service provision role of local authorities – service responsibilities moving out of the purview of local authorities THE CHANGING INSITITUTIONAL CONTEXT  Labour government introduced a radical change in local political management structures which gave a new emphasis to the leadership role  This legislation represents a strong encouragement on the part of central government for local authorities to switch leadership approaches from the traditional northern European model – weaker, more collective modes of leadership in which political leaders play a particularly important role in the articulation of interests and in brokerage between the center and locality RESPONDING TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACTS 1. Directly elected mayor with a cabinet: the mayor is directly elected by the whole electorate and will appoint the cabinet from among the councillors 2. Cabinet with a leader: the leader is directly elected by local people, and the cabinet will be made up of councillors whether appointed by the leader or elected by the council 3. Directly elected mayor with a council manager: the mayor is directly elected by local people with a full time manager appointed by the council to whom both strategic policy and day to day decision making will be delegated 4. This is available to councils under 85,000 in population and also to councils that hold a referendum on introducing either of the mayoral options but which the electorate rejects  Although local authorities could not introduce either of the elected mayor alternatives without first holding a referendum, the choice to hold a referendum was an unconstrained one  The government’s preferred option throughout the legislative process was for elected mayors – mayors would incorporate more directly the desired objective of transparency and accountability in decision making  The council leader can still be elected and dismissed by the council itself  Talking the eleven mayoral contests together, only three saw more than a third of the electorate vote. This low level of turnout is more surprising given the number of candidates that each contest attracted  This reflects the low level of interest COCEPTS OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP  Stone argues there is no well developed theory of political leadership  Leaders learnt that old patterns of management and political control simply did not work but aspirations to overcome this barrier floundered on their lack of power and the ease with which they could be deposed by their supporters  Equally important for the vast majority of authorities who have opted for the cabinet and leader model will be whether the enhanced emphasis on individualized leadership will have a similar  Livingstone is faced with an assembly that did not elect him and is to some extent at least politically hostile to him  Leach and Wilson (2000) in their study of political leadership in England emphasize the importance of a conceptual framework based on leadership  Leadership revolves around purpose and purpose is at the heart of the leader – follower relationship  Task orientated leadership analysis is a well developed field of study in organizational behaviour  Functions of instititutional leaderships: the definition of institutional mission and role; the institutional embodiment of purpose; the defence of institutional integrity; and the ordering of internal conflict  Study of elected mayors – identifies six behavioural models of political leadership two are concerned primarily with the setting of three key mayoral processes: agenda setting, task accomplishment and maintenance – is subdivided into internal elements then a fourfold categorization 1. Maintaining the cohesion of the administration: cohesion of the party group, particularly for a group which holds a majority on a council – ensure a cohesive approach. The leader’s continued existence as a leader may well depend on his or her ability to carry it out effectively 2. Developing Strategic Policy Direction: setting of a strategic framework within which the authority can work. Local strategic partnerships provides an explicit incentive for this kind of activity 3. Representing the Authority in the External World: increased importance as local governance has become more fragmented. Establish or maintain contacts with a wide range of individuals and organizations 4. Ensuring Task Accomplish: conventional textbook division of labour. Effective task accomplishment can contribute to the prospects of future electoral success  There are new opportunities for local leaders to break free from the constraints of party hierarchies and develop popular policies and initiatives whilst at the same time seeking to please business leaders EXPLORATION OF IMPACT OF INTRODUCING NEW FORMS OF LEADERSHIP  Mayors are in a much stronger position. First they can select (and dismiss)a cabinet of their own choosi
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