Traditional mayors in England and Wales seem impotent and insignificant – apparently confined to chairing their councils and vacuously beaming their way around schools, old folks homes and myriad voluntary groups; indeed, a few towns have replaced them with directly-elected executive mayors. Many mayors were content with honour, impartiality and political impotence – and these characteristics have been mostly obligatory in the party-dominated context since 1945. If business-based mayors desired to lead, nineteenth-century municipal situations often presented opportunities, even urgent needs, for what they could offer. In municipalities like Liverpool's, already distinguished by sectarianism-fuelled party bitterness, powerful mayors had always been rare. All this shades into the third area of functional mayoral activity, or pair of activities – the sociable and ceremonial. Religious and ethnic minorities also began finding their way inside the mayoral pale. If mayoral rejection could annoy Irishmen, so much greater were the effects of denying working-class Englishmen this ultimate mark of respectability.