My colleagues protest that Mr Darling has in fact rechristened city regions ‘economic improvement boards (EIBs)’, but I fear his plans have a fatal flaw.
We discuss how it might work. The government is generously allowing them to take over funds for regeneration, transport, planning, allotments, bollards and removal of sea gull droppings a tempting devolution package.
The rosy glow fades as I point out that the EIB will not be sovereign, but will share responsibility with the regional development agency, a body dominated by people from ‘trade’ who owe their position to the government.
“If our EIB disagrees with the RDA, who decides?” one leader asks.
While gentlemen would settle such a dispute with a dawn duel on Toulmin Heath, I rather fear it will be Mr Darling who decides.
A short-haired man in a brown shirt tells me that British National Party intends vigorously to contest the direct elections to police authorities proposed by Mistress Blears and her colleagues.
While Toulminshire has a hereditary beadle, I fear elsewhere contests will revolve around mindless declarations of ‘toughness on crime’, in which the BNP may sound plausible.
Yet I recently read an article by Mistress Blears in which she inveighed against the BNP as the fount of evil and called on Labour’s somewhat tattered ranks to do doughty battle against it.
She wishes to put the BNP to the sword yet simultaneously wishes to offer it easy opportunities to control the rozzers. This is most confusing.