This paper applies an extensive literature that argues that political leadership and local government activity enhance urban performance. Using the State of the Cities Database of 56 Primary Urban Areas in England, it tests for the impact of consolidated governance, political stability, planning performance, average service performance, local government capacity and planning development expenditure on jobs and population growth from 1995 to 2005. The regression analysis finds that the competence of service delivery is weakly associated with full-time jobs growth and that a consolidated governance structure is weakly associated with greater population growth. None of the other tests is statistically significant. Overall, the findings place doubt on the salience of the political determinants of economic performance in English cities for the period in question.