Why Cabinet Meetings Could Be Heading Down Your Way; POLITICS

Article excerpt

The Cabinet should escape London and meet in regions such as the West Midlands, Local Government Minister Hazel Blears suggested.

She suggested Cabinet sessions in smaller cities and towns as well as large ones, raising the prospect of Dudley, Walsall or Solihull becoming the heart of government.

Birmingham, as the largest city outside London, would be an obvious candidate.

Ms Blears said she wanted to end the "growing alienation from politics" by forcing senior ministers to meet people from other parts of the country.

She suggested ministers should spend time doing "real" jobs, so they understood more about those they served.

Her comments, in a speech to think-tank the Social Market Foundation, appeared to be personal views.

She said: "One of the things I heard again and again on the election campaign last month was 'you're all out of touch'. The rows about expenses, the lists at John Lewis's, the travel perks, the relatives on the payroll, the second jobs. These things have seeped into the public consciousness. People think politicians are on the make.

"They think we're living in our own world, unaware of the harsh realities, and we need to fix that.

For example, why shouldn't the Cabinet meet in locations other than the Cabinet Room at Number 10? …