"We need a skilled politician who knows how to make and execute decisions using the advice of the official mayoral machine and the London Assembly. We do not want an empire-building rent-a-quote. The obvious recruiting grounds are the assembly, the boroughs and Parliament. A candidate needs experience of London electors. It would help if our candidate either had been or still is a councillor or an MP within the London area. He would know part of the electorate well. He would know the local organisations, and be used to the some of the local media. It would be good if our candidate had a track record of delivering better service for less cost as a leader or committee chairman in a borough council, or in some other elected office. It would be important that the candidate could devote large amounts of time in the year ahead to the task of wooing the electorate, researching and setting out a plan for sorting out London’s problems. I don’t mind what sex, race, creed or religion the person is, but I do want someone competent."
With those words (in The Telegraph) John Redwood sets out some qualities that the Tory candidate for London Mayor might need. The trouble with Britain’s centralised system of government is that there is very little opportunity for people to acquire real experience of policy innovation and running genuinely independent local councils. The situation could not be more different in the USA. Republican voters have a choice between John McCain, Rudi Giuliani, Mitt Romney and one or two others. What is notable about Giuliani and Romney is that they have serious executive experience. Giuliani has run New York. He has driven down crime, managed budgets and cut taxes. Romney ran a Winter Olympics for Utah and was also Governor of Massachusetts. We might have less difficulty finding good candidates for high office if we had our own system of seriously devolved power. Just a thought.