Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Birmingham Mayoral debate: 8 months in

Today marks the 8th month of the Birmingham Evening Mail's "big debate" and petition on having an elected mayor for Birmingham. Fortunately, I'm here to mark the occasion of the passing of this date. Unfortunately, the Evening Mail seems to have lost count of when they started their campaign, and last week reported that it had only been going for 6 months. If they can't even count to 8 months, how are they going to count to 36,000 signatures accurately?
It would appear that very slow progress is being made towards the 36,000 signatures required. They have apparently verified 6000 signatures. So 1/6 of the way, in 2/3 of the time. Not that good I think!
The irony is that once they pass 13 March 2008, those most eager to see a referendum and first to sign up to the petition, will actually drop off the petition!
Fortunately for them, the Evening Mail editor is meeting up for a quick chat with the relevant minister to find out what "significant" means. The point being that the relevant legislation states that the petition has to be 5% or a significant number of petitioners.
I can only assume that he thinks that finding 36,000 residents of Birmingham to sign his petition is proving a little difficult. Maybe his readers, those who went to the derby match at the weekend, or local shoppers think its the important issue that he does. As a local council, we're going to continue concentrating on the issues that really matter to our residents: clean streets, a green environment and a safe city to live in. Why doesn't the editor stick to writing a newspaper. Maybe he'll have more readers?

1 Comments:

At 10:02 am, Anonymous Matthew Huntbach said...

I urge you - step up the fight against directly elected executive mayors. Tell people what it REALLY means - it means giving all power to one person and taking away the voting rights of our elected representatives. It is as if we abolished the right of MPs to vote on government policy and just gave all power to the Prime Minister.

Listen to what New Labour says "And the Cabinet minister in charge of local government, Hazel Blears, told the Mail that a Birmingham council run by an elected mayor would be more accountable to its people and could be given more powers." What lying rubbish - how can a person who no longer has to answer to an assembly which contains representatives of the whole community be "more accountable" to the people? Why is New Labour so in favour of this idea of all-powerful mayors and abolishing the right of councillors to vote? Is it perhaps because they'd like to introduce the same system for national government - an elected dictator who cannot be voted down by Parliament because MPs have had that power taken away from them? There's a name for that - FASCISM. Directly elected executive mayors are step to fascism.

I write as someone who was leader of the Opposition in the London Borough of Lewisham when the directly elected executive mayor idea was introduced by the then strongly New Labour council. We had the same lying and misleading arguments in favour of it, the same populist anti-democracy lines pushed through in favour of it by the local press and local bigwigs. It was almost impossible to get a hearing for the case against.

Sadly, we lost the referendum, but only just. But strangely enough, ever since then so many people have come to me saying "I voted in favour of a mayor in the referendum" or "I didn't bother voting" but "Now I see what you meant, and I really wish I had voted against". And that is despite the fact that, to be fair, the Labour Party person elected as mayor hasn't seriously abused his position in the way that position is capable of being abused. People are just unhappy that decisions he makes don't have to have the backing of the council - particularly since that council no longer has a Labour majority.

 

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