The Conservatives did very well in the first round of mayoral elections earlier this month, picking up such prizes as Tees Valley and the West Midlands, where Andy Street hailed “the rebirth of urban Conservatism”.
But this hasn’t spurred the Party to continue to embrace the new office in the absence of George Osborne, its great champion.
Whilst the manifesto talks about giving councils “greater control of the taxes they collect”, the somewhat odd-sounding prospect of ‘rural mayors’ has been dropped:
“With devolution now established in London and other parts of England, we will consolidate our approach, providing clarity across England on what devolution means for different administrations so all authorities operate in a common framework. We will support those authorities that wish to combine to serve their communities better. For combined authorities that are based around our great cities, we will continue to support the adoption of elected mayors, but we will not support them for the rural counties.”
This could represent a planned pause for breath after some quite substantial reforms to local government… or simply that Downing Street is no longer home to anybody enthusiastic about taking these reforms forward.