This chapter places Tony Blair government's modernisation agenda within the context of arguments about the configuration of local political decision-making. It addresses a number of vital questions that are raised by the introduction of a directly elected form of local political leadership. Local government in England is the means by which the provision of local services is brought together with the world of politics, and party politics in particular. Some common themes of past examinations of local government have been low levels of public awareness and engagement, the intensity and appropriateness of party politics, and the lack of visibility and transparency in political decision-making. The advent of directly elected mayors within English local government raises a wide but simple set of questions about the effect of direct election to executive political office on local democracy and representation. Finally, an overview of the chapters included in this book is shown.
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