‘The dearth of leadership has hurt our city’

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ANYONE watching the Punch and Judy politics of London’s mayoral elections might well wonder why anyone would ask the question – but it is nevertheless a pertinent one for Edinburgh’s future:

Does Scotland’s Capital need a directly elected mayor, like England’s Capital, to re-invigorate the city? Would our own answer to Boris Johnson or Ken Livingstone help to speed us on the road to recovery?

It is widely acknowledged that the city has suffered from a dearth of leadership over the past five years. And it remains to be seen what the next four will bring.

But the trams debacle is only the most glaring example of how a lack of leadership, from across all the political parties, has cost us dearly.

Appointing a directly elected mayor has the potential to transform the city’s political landscape.

Such a post would have to command a six-figure salary and bring with it extensive powers and an enormous public profile. That kind of position would attract a huge pool of talent, including successful business leaders and the best aspiring young politicians who currently head for Westminster.

Critics complain that placing so much power in the hands of one individual leads to politics dominated by big personalities.

But what is wrong with having a strong charismatic character in charge?

Isn’t a strong personality part of the make-up of a good leader.

Unfortunately, the Scottish Parliament is unlikely to enact the legislation needed to give Edinburgh a mayor. Let’s face it, an elected mayor would instantly trump our £57,000-a-year MSPs in terms of power and profile, and how many of them are going to vote for that?

But when local council polling day arrives next month some fear one of the poorest turn-outs by voters in recent years. If that happens, the argument for an Edinburgh mayor will only grow stronger.

Vanishing acts

We’re looking forward to seeing the illusion planned at the Lothian Buses depot as part of this year’s magic festival – but have they missed a trick?

Surely when it comes to making things disappear, a better target would have been the new Gogar tram depot, or indeed, the countless sets of roadworks across the city.

And let’s face it, whatever the Lothian Bus stunt, it will clearly pale in comparison to the vanishing act performed by rival firm First recently. They managed to make dozens of buses disappear without the use of any smoke or mirrors.