Cabinet Governance and Political Stability in English Urban Councils

Stephen Greasley


Policy-makers have long been concerned with the quality of local political leadership and have often resorted to institutional reform to try to improve political leadership. This paper looks at a specific and neglected facet of the political management reforms that have been implemented in English local government over the last decade: the tenure and turnover of cabinet members. The tenure of top politicians may be an important influence on the performance of local government particularly when political management is designed to favour individualised leadership. On the one hand, excessively short tenures for top politicians may damage the ability of governments to develop strategic plans and ensure they are implemented while on the other hand the risk of loss of office is central to political accountability and excessively long tenures may be indicative of an insulated and unresponsive elite. While some research attention has been paid to the tenures of leaders of councils in England there is little systematic information about the tenure of cabinet members. This paper discusses the relevance of cabinet stability and provides an overview of recent experience in England.

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