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Ask a silly question…

Manchester rejected the idea of a directly-elected mayor in a referendum two years ago – but now is getting one anyway because a stitch-up deal by politicians who don’t care what the public want.

That’s one viewpoint – the other is that the last referendum didn’t make clear the advantages, was focused just on the city of Manchester and not the 10 authorities that make up the city-region / combined authority, and that even then polls suggested most people favoured a ‘metro mayor’ with wider responsibilities.

Even so, there is something disquieting about this: why a referendum in 2012, but not now? If the deal is so good, why not trust people to back it?

The contents of today’s deal sound admittedly great for Manchester and its surrounding towns and cities, for its transport, skills, growth and health economy. Plus it sets a great precedent for future (meaningful) devolution to other areas of the country. But cutting the people out of the process may come back to haunt those who struck the deal.


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