Commentators have loved the battle between Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone to control London in recent years. Rarely has politics been so interesting in the UK.
But has their titanic contest highlighted an issue beyond their own personalities? Do we need to change local politics in cities? Do we need mayors?
With the ‘Yes’ campaign for Scottish independence launched on Friday, the question over how we are governed has never been so pertinent.
Prime Minister David Cameron is a big supporter of the idea of mayors at a local level, but many parts of England don’t seem to agree with him.
In May, with local council elections taking place across the country, ten English cities held referendums to determine if the people wanted to have a mayor.
Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Wakefield all rejected the idea.
Bristol, however, did vote to adopt a mayoral system, but only one in four people voted in the city. Doncaster, meanwhile, voted to keep its mayor, while Joe Anderson has just started work as the first directly-elected mayor of Liverpool after the city decided to make the change without a referendum.
Other cities that currently have mayors include Salford, Leicester and Middlesbrough.
But what about Glasgow?
In the local elections last month, only 32.42% of the electorate turned out to restore Labour to the corridors of power at the City Chambers.
Do we need to change the system to engage more people in politics again? Or should we try and improve while keeping the status quo?
These questions were considered this week by a group of city professionals who work in the property sector.
A debate was hosted by industry journalist Stewart McIntosh with respected lawyer Alison Newton, of the firm HBJ Gateley, arguing the case for a mayor and former council leader and MSP Charlie Gordon arguing against.
Around 60 people listened as both Ms Newton and Mr Gordon presented their cases, with particular emphasis on whether a mayor could achieve greater regeneration and economic success in Glasgow than the current system of councillors.
Ms Newton said: “We don’t want a ‘McBoris’. Whatever we do in Glasgow, it will be our template, our choice, our style.” The lawyer went on to argue that the expertise is already in the city to help it grow, but Glaswegians deserve somebody full time to implement these strategies.
She talked about engagement and accountability, stating any council leader in Glasgow was elected by one ward and not by the city, adding the position of Lord Provost has never been an elected one and therefore “not accountable to the people in any sense whatsoever”.
She then tackled the issue of the English rejection of the idea.
She commented: “That was an argument that was forced on those cities by a central government, unpopular and mid-term, and run by councils who don’t fancy it.
“What we should be setting up is a template which is for Glasgow which will give us the constancy to deliver plans we already have.”
Next up, Charlie Gordon. The former MSP for Cathcart was the council’s leader between 1999 and 2005, so he is a man who knows exactly what the city’s current political structure can achieve, and what it can do better.
Sympathetic to the idea that Glasgow needs to do more to progress, he used his debating time to talk about the country’s ongoing problems with unemployment and, in particular, youth unemployment.
Mr Gordon then highlighted the concern of 'personality politics'.
He said: “I can see how the idea of a ‘McBoris’ is attractive. It depends on who the people pick. Maybe a ‘Mc Tommy Sheridan’, a ‘Mc George Galloway’, or a ‘Mc actor’ who has just been made redundant from River City, and just happens to have a higher profile than any of the local politicians?”
In the end, the audience opted for Ms Newton’s argument and supported the notion that Glasgow needed a mayor to move forward. One listener who supported the idea was chartered surveyor Virginia Beckett.
She said: “I think it was very interesting that there was such a strong body of feeling from the business community. I think various organisations in Glasgow need to be galvanised by an independent party.
"There was a general consensus that a mayor or equivalent would be a good thing that would take Glasgow forward.”
One member of the audience who didn’t agree was Angus Hamilton, who runs a commercial property development company New Land Assets.
He said: “I thought it was an interesting debate on a topical subject. I didn’t support the idea of having a mayor. I think the duty of the city council is to promote the city.
"There have been quite strong personalities in the past who have been very good at that, like Pat Lally. There really is no reason for an additional official who is going to cost money, and it adds an extra layer of elected officialdom which my view is unwarranted.”
With the business community in the property sector won over, what next? After the debate, Ms Newton addressed the issue of personality politics and mayors.
She said: “If you make the job big enough, serious enough, then people must have backing to run a campaign. Because you know a couple of tabloid journalists, that is not going to be backing for a campaign.
“The city’s businesses will ensure that we get the right calibre of candidates standing. You need money to run a campaign and that is why the business community is important.
“The Lord Provost has no remit whatsoever. It is a ceremonial position. It is ‘The Queen’. The mayor would have to be more, and different, from the leader of the council. It is not a replication of that.
"They would have to have connection to transport, high level connection with planning and infrastructure, policing. You would need to redefine these powers. Not more of the same, it is different. It gives somebody a seat at the heart of processes, and to make it happen.
“It doesn’t need to be the replication of anything anywhere. It can be what will work for this city. I think this is more likely to work city region - involve Glasgow, the Dunbartonshires and the Renfrewshires at the very least, because that makes sense.
“You want people to engage with it. If you look at the London example, Ken has annoyed his own Labour party as much as Boris has annoyed his own Conservative party. Whether you love them or hate them, they are passionate about London.
"That engages people.”
Mr Gordon said he welcomed the debate on mayors and hopes the discussion will continue. He added: “At the moment, you have a group of councillors who collegiately run the city. I worry giving all that power to just one person.
"If that one person has all that executive power, if that one person turns out to be incompetent or corrupt, then the whole system is detrimentally effected.
“If I could be convinced that having a mayor would re-engage people in politics again, then great. But we don’t know.
"Let’s not reform our system of local government on the basis of vague opinions and feelings. Let’s have a proper examination and debate of everything local government does, including the electoral processes.
“There are several problems about people knowing about local government. Since the Scottish Parliament was established the media coverage of local government has reduced dramatically and that contributes to a lack of pubic knowledge.
"There has got to be greater transparency in local government.
“I think when business people express a view on these matters then they should be considered very carefully. People from the business community didn’t rush here to say they wanted an elected mayor.
"The motion mentioned a catalyst for economic regeneration. Everybody in the room today - the number one priority was economic regeneration. The means by how we do it is secondary. It is about the ends rather than the means.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said that a change in legislation at Holyrood would be required if Glasgow wanted to have a mayor, but we are a long way from that stage.
Do the people of Glasgow want this new system of city governance? Would it make the city better? The debate is just getting started.