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The Politics of London: governing an ungovernable city

Tony Travers|
Palgrave Macmillan  (November 2003)

London is one of the world's greatest cities but its politics and governance have long been notoriously problematic. A bewildering array of institutions share responsibility for running its services - and worse still, these institutions have often been reshaped or even abolished and their responsibilities reshuffled and reformed. 

The creation of a London mayor - and the manner of Ken Livingstone's election as first incumbent - put London governance in the headlines, and a series of controversies, from the financing of public transport to congestion charging for motorists, have kept it there ever since.

In this major new book, Tony Travers provides a comprehensive review of how London works in the 21st century and a systematic assessment of the record of the first London mayor and Greater London Assembly. He penetrates behind the successes and failures of individual politicians to illuminate the continuing structural, political problems of London - and in particular the limited powers delegated from national level and their labyrinthine distribution. He concludes that more reform will be needed if London is ever to be governed effectively or to undertake major re-investment projects successfully. At a time when major cities will from time to time need to make radical changes, London's government arrangements are a profound problem.

For students of cities and local politics, as well as concerned citizens and weary commuters, this book provides incisive answers.

Tony Travers is director of the Greater London Group at LSE. He is a prolific writer and speaker on London and local government issues.

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