The newly-elected Mayor of the English town of Doncaster, Peter Davies, has a very curious idea: the purpose of government is not to propagandize its citizens, not to feather its own nest, and not to raise taxes to fund the non-jobs that are advertised in the liberal Guardian every week. It is to administer public business effectively and efficiently. That may sound obvious, but in Britain – as in many other places – it amounts to a revolution.
Even apart from his policies, Davies is a rare bird. There are only eleven directly elected mayors in England: most mayors are selected by the local council. Davies is also unusual in that he’s a member of the English Democrats, neither Conservative, Liberal, nor Labour. Having won his post in June, he’s showing that he’s not afraid to keep on bucking the establishment. His first act was to reduce his own salary from 73,000 pounds to 30,000 pounds (or from about $110,000 to about $48,000 per years), and to drop the mayoral limo.
Then he really got rolling. He ended the ‘twinning’ arrangements between Doncaster and five other cities around the world, saying it was just an excuse “for people to fly off and have a binge at the council’s expense.” He abolished the town’s “diversity” portfolio and ended funding for the Gay Pride Parade, on the grounds that, whatever one’s sexual preferences are, they should not be paraded at taxpayer expense.
He is now seeking to abolish all council non-jobs, such as the “community cohesion officers,” driving the green lobby into a panic by building parking spaces to encourage people to shop downtown, and trying to reduce the council from 63 members to 21, asking “If Pittsburgh can manage with nine councillors, why do we need 63?”
Davies is doing exactly what he was elected to do: reduce the size and the reach of government, and cutting taxes with the savings. But he is going to have a rough ride: his common sense measures will only provoke the establishment and encourage them to keep on denigrating him, as they did even before he was elected. He will need a good deal of courage to press ahead. Fortunately, that’s a virtue he appears to have in abundance.