If none of us DO anything, Leeds won’t get an elected mayor

Forget that opinion poll. A majority of people may be in favour of an elected mayor in Leeds. But there’s a big problem with the referendum.

What happens when lots of us can’t find a candidate who we fancy voting for in the local elections? Isn’t it on the cards that we won’t be arsed to go the polling station at all on 3rd May?

Then we won’t get an elected mayor.

It’s doubly difficult because in Leeds there’s not going to be any high-profile champion of a “yes” vote, like they’ve got next door in Bradford with George Galloway.  In Leeds there’s no party standing in the elections that offers a real hope of change. There’s no party that’s going to engage those of us who have never been engaged to go out and vote.

There’s nothing to snap us out of our overwhelming lethargy.

Unless some of us DO something, nothing will change.

Why would THEY want change?

Because in Leeds the three big political parties are dead set against the whole idea of an elected mayor. They’ve run the city for ever. Why would they want change?

The trouble is they’re out there campaigning for a ‘no’ vote already.  And those of us who think an elected mayor could be a good thing are doing nothing.

And it’s so easy for them. They’ve got the money, the party machine to badger people on the doorstep, and exclusive access to the local papers and other media.

Here’s Cllr Dobson, a Labour Party member of the Leeds City Council leadership, on the case today, targeting the crucial student vote through an officer of Leeds University Student Union.

If none of us do anything, no voice in favour of an elected mayor is going to get heard, apart from during random chats on social media. And if it’s mostly Labour and Tory voters that bother to turn up on polling day, then it’s probably no contest. And good old common sense Leeds will be stuck with the same old same old.

But what if…?

What if it turns out there are enough people in Leeds who’d be up for a change?

What if between us we can find a way of encouraging people to turn up and vote “yes” even if they feel that voting in the local election is a waste of time.

What if it isn’t so ridiculous to imagine, for starters, that we could put together a simple flyer, find a printer who’d print it cheap and get it out on the streets?

What if it isn’t so ridiculous to imagine that people who don’t belong to a political party can do their bit to change the way things are run?

It’s not about WHO we want for mayor. It’s about having the possibility in November of  choosing someone decent who would stand up for us ALL. Someone who hasn’t got any vested interests. In party politics,  business or whatever.

Anyone got any ideas about what can be done?

Anyone fancy having a go at doing something?

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7 Responses to If none of us DO anything, Leeds won’t get an elected mayor

  1. John says:

    In some cities potential mayor candidates have already come forward but not in Leeds. If nobody is interested in being mayor any yes vote is a shot in the dark.
    Why take the risk of voting for a mayor when you don’t know who’ll stand.

    • hmocc says:

      As if the local tories, labour and lib-dems would sit quietly watching random independent candidates take over the city. Honestly? Really?

  2. RedHill says:

    Is there a useful summary anywhere of how a mayor’s powers and responsibilities would differ from the current council leader’s?

  3. Lee says:

    A good start would be approaching the YEP about running a pros and cons piece. Double spread, each side gets a page each. Free, easy way of reaching a mass market.

    • Yes, that would be good. And wouldn’t it be good too if BBC Radio Leeds were to broadcast a live serious debate on the issue. I’m not holding my breath, but it won’t do any harm to ask them.

  4. Alison says:

    To Redhill: in answer to your question, from http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/2020982.pdf

    “A mayor in any of the 12 cities will be vested with all the city council’s current executive powers. In addition, mayors in such mayoral cities, will have the powers that we transfer to them as we pursue our commitment to decentralisation in order to give power back to people and communities. We are proposing a ‘bottom-up’ approach where we look to the cities to come forward with their proposals for powers for their mayors. This recognises the differences of the mayoral cities, and their need for flexible, decentralised policy solutions that enable them to do things in a way that is relevant to their city’s particular circumstances.”

    From what I’ve read, the additional ‘bespoke’ powers that an elected mayor would receive will only be announced after the referendum, and will be different for each city involved, according to their needs. You may also find this document useful:
    http://www.dpm.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files_dpm/resources/CO_Unlocking%20GrowthCities_acc.pdf

    This organisation is in the pro lobby, with various materials available:
    http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/our-work/new-models-governance-and-public-services/elected-mayors?CMP=EMCSOCEML657

    Hope that helps.

    • RedHill says:

      In other words, the government hadn’t decided at the time of the referendum what the mayors would actually be able to do or not do. Is it any wonder everyone except Bristol voted no? And the two cities which imposed mayors on their citizens this time around (SAlford and Liverpool) elected Labour candidates, which is presumably not the reward Cameron was looking for in return for giving power to the people. Let’s see what additional powers these mayors are given.

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