In amongst the details of the 2016 Budget was the creation of another round of directly elected Mayors. Not only directly elected, but also for large geographic areas.
These are contests unlikely to get Liberal Democrats excited as it’s a very different sort of devolution from the one the party believes in. It’s also the case that elections over wider geographic areas tend to be more of a struggle for the party and generate less enthusiasm for grassroots activity.
The risk, therefore, is that there is an increasing number of elected posts – with power and budgets – knocking around which the party lacks the enthusiasm and approach to fight seriously.
Yet there is also a huge opportunity here.
A wider range of elections provides a wider range of potential career paths through the party – which is no bad thing when we’re looking to involve more people and a greater diversity of people.
More contests over larger geographic areas gives more opportunities to learn better how to do this well.
Another set of elections provides another set of opportunities to turn occasional supporters of the party into long-term loyal supporters (or, in the absence of a Lib Dem candidate to say to them: ‘sorry, we refuse to let you be a regular supporter; instead you must vote for someone else’).
And winning more of these posts will not only apply more political power to the cause of liberalism, it will also help the party in future elections at other levels too.