Author Topic: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR  (Read 10719 times)

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Offline andy newman

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NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« on: July 24, 2008, 04:13:17 PM »
I see that Roger Ogle and others have just sent out a press release showing that they want to trigger a referrendum for a directly elected mayor.

http://swindonroundabouts.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/no-to-a-directly-elected-mayor/

What is need now is a broad cross party campaign to oppose this idea.

It would lead to a "winner takes it all" lottery in the locall elections, and further degrade the role of local ward councillors.

The May 2008 Londoon mayoral election only had a 45% turnout, despite a massive media campaign and real differences between the candidates.

the current system isn't perfect, but the directly elected mayor route is worse.



Offline ford

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2008, 06:18:01 PM »
Andy,
Why would an elected Mayor result in a more 'winner take it all' result than what is in place now; a leader of the Council who has not been elected to such job?

I don't see that an elected Mayor is akin to a President nor do I see that ward councillors would be less effective, actually, surely they may even be a bit better off as an elected Mayor may not be a member of any of the main parties. You, for example could be Mayor.

I trust your motives, just don't understand you on this one.

Offline Alligator

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2008, 09:00:39 PM »
I have to agree with Ford's sentiments here.  Don't forget the proposal is for a referendum, a chance for the people to decide, what can be so frightening by that concept?  You never know they may just decide to keep the status quo.

This issue isn't about casting judgement on the current leader, previous leaders, or which policial party you support, it's simply about how we're governed and who should decide how we're governed.

In my view, today we have a leader of the council who was elected as a councillor for one ward with 1292 votes.

That's 1292 votes out of a town with a population of 155,432 people.  A leader voted for by 0.8% of the population. 

I doubt very much that the people of Dorcan who voted in the May elections will have seriously thought about the implications their vote could have on the leadership of SBC. Why should they? they were voting for their local councillor, someone that supposed to be looking to represent the interests of their ward.

Imho, the current system only serves to cause a divide, as a resident of Central where I have Labour councillors I have no means of making myself heard to a conservative leader who will ultimately answer to a few thousand people on the other side of town.

I can't make myself heard and the leader of SBC has no incentive for me to be heard. 

I say any system that gives every voter an equal say in who leads the town has to better than the current system where the decision on who leads the town is based on the internal shenanigans of the largest political party.

I say YES to a referendum on an elected Mayor    O0
« Last Edit: July 24, 2008, 09:37:20 PM by Alligator »

Offline komadori

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2008, 11:19:25 PM »

I say any system that gives every voter an equal say in who leads the town has to better than the current system where the decision on who leads the town is based on the internal shenanigans of the largest political party.


Having a directly elected mayor does not remove the 'internal shenanigans' from the process. It just means that they happen before you vote (when the parties select their candidates for the mayoral election) rather than after.
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Offline Alligator

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2008, 07:58:56 AM »
That may be the case, but if it's the public that have the final say on who leads us, I'd like to bet that the focus and reasoning behind these internal shenanigans will be very different and ultimately they'd be much less important. 

It will be what we think and who we all vote for that matters at the end of the day.

Of course that all assumes that the large political parties would get a look in.....if a good independent candidate stood for election, all the parties may start to look a little fearful of democracy.

However this is all a discussion for a time when, or if, the referendum idea gets the go ahead through the support of enough people in Swindon, the proposal at the moment is to get a referendum.

Let the people decide.

 

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2008, 09:25:33 AM »
As I've said on Andy's blog:


Quote from: me
The Local Government Act 2007 and 2007 allows for the electorate to call a referendum, I’m not sure the Act has an ‘anti-referendum’ clause.

Surely the truly democratic thing to do would be to encourage the debate, then if a referendum is held you simply vote no.

Actively campaigning to prevent the people of Swindon having a vote on this again (Swindon was already denied once such opportunity in 2001), will hopefully encourage more people to consider all the options available to them, and not just the one option that you think they should be allowed Andy

I’m glad you're excited about this though, the more people that are involved in the debate the wider and better it will be. Keep it up.


Anyway, let's not skip lightly past the events of the 27th of September 2001 just yet.

I'm sure many of those in favour of maintaining the party political status quo want to rush straight past the question of the referendum that was denied to Swindon in 2001, but it's an essential part of the debate and it needs discussing imho.

Newmans threat to campaign against the electorate of Swindon having an open, free and fair vote on the issue seems more dictator than democrat and suggests to me that he approves of the way in which Swindon was already denied the chance to make the choice for themselves.

I'm looking forward to the coming debate on the pros and cons of elected Mayors vs council appointed leaders...but that debate only becomes meaningful to Swindon once we've explored, discussed and debated the denial of the 2001 public vote. 

Isn't the survival of our democracy utterly dependent on voting and the electorates confidence in being able to do so regularly, and the expectation that their vote counts for something something? 

If politicians are going to regularly 'pull the ladder up behind them' after they are elected, ignore promises of referendums and deny entire towns the right to vote accorded to them by an Act of Parliament.....then the system, and those who manipulate it for their own gain at the expense of the electorate's right to vote, are rotten to the core, and perhaps this partly explains voter apathy.

I want to see democracy properly served in Swindon by allowing the electorate the chance to make the choice that was unfairly, imho, denied to them in 2001. 

The time to really get stuck into the Elected Mayors vs Council Appointed Leader debate is when a referendum is definitely on the cards.

Offline andy newman

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2008, 09:34:44 AM »
You miss the point Geoff.

I am not proposing a campaign against a referrendum, I am proposing a campaign against an elected mayor.

In the very process of campagning for a referendum you are already making the YES case for a mayor. So those opposed to a directly  elected mayor need to start early as well, in case you get enough signatures to trigger a contest.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2008, 10:10:55 AM »

I am not proposing a campaign against a referrendum, I am proposing a campaign against an elected mayor.

In the very process of campagning for a referendum you are already making the YES case for a mayor. So those opposed to a directly  elected mayor need to start early as well, in case you get enough signatures to trigger a contest.

We're making a 'yes case' for a referendum, for the opportunity for Swindon to choose for itself whether to keep the leadership system that was imposed upon it or choose the alternative.

At this stage I'm concerned with protecting and exercising the principle of voting rights being trampled on and buried by a couple of ambitious councillors in 2001.  I'm worried that this will happen again if we, as the electorate, don't stand up now and cry foul.

As a referendum question is a yes/no article,  you might consider encouraging people to support, promote and indeed sign the referendum petition and help make a referendum result a really decisive one, whichever way it goes.

www.talkswindon.org/petition




Offline andy newman

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2008, 04:12:11 PM »
Geoff: "As a referendum question is a yes/no article,  you might consider encouraging people to support, promote and indeed sign the referendum petition and help make a referendum result a really decisive one, whichever way it goes."

That isn't the way politics works Geoff. The first step towards getting an elected mayor is to trigger a referrendum.  For those of us who oppose the idea of a directly elected mayor as being less democratic, then why would we help to bring the refferredum about?

Good luck to you, if you can get enough signatures then it is game on, but I ain't going to help!

BTW. I was intending to write an article myself criticising the idea of directly elected mayors, and I will do so relating it specifically to Swindon, but while researching the question, I came across this excellent set of arguments from Councillor Richard Kemp, who is Deputy Chair and Leader of the Liberal Democrat group at the Local Government Association of England and Wales.

http://swindonroundabouts.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/arguments-against-directly-elected-mayors/

Offline andy newman

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2008, 04:23:27 PM »
By the way, the elected mayor experiment in Stoke has proven so disastrous that they are abolishing it by the end of 2009, and are planning a referrendum on whether to go back to the old system, or an inbetween system.

http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/content/csec/ds/stoke-on-trent-governance-commission---final-report.en

Offline andy newman

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2008, 04:30:06 PM »
Slight correction.

The Stoke mayoral model is being changed becasue the particular arrangement they have will no longer be supported, and they have to change by May 2009. But is has been an almost unmitihated disatser, as the report shows.

Te report makes sober reading of how having a mayor has coincided with greater allienation from the political process, and increasing extremism (Stoke has no less than nine BNP councillors)

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2008, 07:03:18 PM »
I can't reply fully from my phone, but in the meantime.... I notice you've conveniently sprinted straight past discussing how the Swindon electorate were denied the opportunity to make a choice in 2001.

And: Only a socialist could describe enabling 140,000 Swindon voters to choose how the town is led as 'undemocratic'.

You say "this isn't how politics works", but in this context it is exactly how the Local Government Act enables politics to work,

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2008, 07:10:19 PM »
Not intimately familiar with Stoke but imagine they opted for the Mayor+Council manager option, (this option was abolished by the Local Gov Act 2007).
I could never understand why anyone would vote for this option, but we only need examine how our councils constitution was changed on the 27th of September 2001 to realise you can slip almost anything through council if you put it at the end of the agenda and vote on it when Councillors are in a hurry to go home!

Offline komadori

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2008, 11:21:32 PM »
And: Only a socialist could describe enabling 140,000 Swindon voters to choose how the town is led as 'undemocratic'.

The only person to use the word 'undemocratic' until now is you Geoff. Andy's phrase was 'less democratic'.
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2008, 12:59:38 AM »
And: Only a socialist could describe enabling 140,000 Swindon voters to choose how the town is led as 'undemocratic'.

The only person to use the word 'undemocratic' until now is you Geoff. Andy's phrase was 'less democratic'.

That's a valid criticism, thanks for pointing it out.  :)

I'll retract that and instead say:

Only a socialist would claim that enabling 140,000 Swindon voters to choose how the town is led, and who it is led by, is less democratic than 43 councillors making that choice behind closed doors.


Offline komadori

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2008, 11:06:23 AM »

Only a socialist would claim that enabling 140,000 Swindon voters to choose how the town is led, and who it is led by, is less democratic than 43 councillors making that choice behind closed doors.


But there is more to running a council than just the leader/mayor. Depending on which model is chosen, the consequence of an elected mayor is often that other senior positions are filled by appointees, people that nobody has elected for any purpose. And whilst there are other models, they don't seem to be that popular.
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Offline Mellon

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2008, 09:29:22 PM »
i believe the elected mayor route is better than someone who happens to be floating around at the time,

i believe as a swindon resident , i want to have the ability to choose who i want as the leader of swindon, someone who will listen to me, someone who i believe will take great pride in what the people of swindon need, should i say (sorry if my wording is terrible im not very good at this sort of thing)

after reading what Mr Reid has found, it suggests to me that the council wants to limit the residents of swindon on what they are able to have a say in, which i think is disgusting, EVERY person has a say, EVERY person has the right to vote for what they want and EVERY person has the god given right to change what they dont think is right,

Ive signed the petition because i want a genuine say in who i would like leading the council for the better.........(not that mr wakefield is doing a bad job, i just didnt have the say in the matter) for me i think the only way democracy can work is if the councillors become a single entity and stop biccering with the different factions (eg.labour,conservs...) and work together TO LISTEN to the towns folk, which is what seems to be happening.

anyway thats my opinion, i would just like my vote

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Offline Man Of The Woods

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Re: NO TO ELECTED MAYOR
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2008, 05:02:43 AM »
Hi Andy,

Quote
The Stoke mayoral model is being changed becasue the particular arrangement they have will no longer be supported, and they have to change by May 2009. But is has been an almost unmitihated disatser, as the report shows.

Te report makes sober reading of how having a mayor has coincided with greater allienation from the political process, and increasing extremism (Stoke has no less than nine BNP councillors)


Nine BNP councillors!  O0

Personally, I think a referendum would be a good idea. Let the people decide their own future - they certainly decided to speak up for themselves in Stoke.

Thanks for the link to the Stoke report Andy.  It made very interesting reading, especially page 117 of the associated document, Stoke-on-Trent Governance Commission Evidence:

Quote

Common Concerns Raised about the Elected Mayor System

Critics of the elected mayor/cabinet model often raise a number concerns about the system which I would like now to address below.

1) What if an extremist gets in?

This is simply scaremongering and not facing up to reality. We currently have 6 elected members in the City that are linked to extreme politics.

This is not the fault of the system but rather the result of our reluctance to deal with the situation head on. We need community groups, trade unions, businesses, mainstream political parties and faith organisations to join forces to expose extremists and ensure better public awareness. In fact, a directly elected mayor can be a very influential figure in bringing people together from all walks of life to tackle extremists head on. If only people concentrated their efforts in tackling extremism head on rather than scaremongering we would get rid of extremism for ever.
...


I think that's good advice. Tackle the BNP head on, or do you still prefer your 'No Platform' policy? Still playing the 'Nasty BNP' game? It's been over four years since this.

Quote
please complain to Wilts BBC about planned BNP interview

From: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/oxford/2004/06/292726.html?c=on
.
Andy newman | 04.06.2004 00:56 | Anti-racism | Oxford | West Country

Please distribute this widely - and please do complain to the BBC straight away.

This Sunday on 6th June, Unite Against Fascism will be leafleting Calne against the far-right British National Party (BNP),who are standing in the Euro elections.

We were contacted by Wiltshire BBC for a radio interview on Matthew Smith's Sunday Morning programme. However, we were then advised that the BNP Press Officer would also be on the programme.

We therefore withdrew from the programme as we will not share air time with a racist and fascist organisation. Particularly as the only reason the story was in the news in the first place was because we were leafleting against the BNP -we see no need to give these fascists an opportunity to promote race hatred over the airwaves.

We have now been told that the BBC intend to proceed anyway with the BNP interview. This is irresponsible and sensationalist journalism from the BBC - instead of denying the BNP publicity they are courting them.

If you have any doubts about the true nature of the BNP please check the facts at this web-site:  http://www.stopthebnp.com/

Please e-mail and telephone complaints as soon as possible to BBC Swindon and Wiltshire:  matthew.smith@bbc.co.uk
Newsdesk: 01793 513652

best wishes
Andy Newman
Race Officer - Swindon and Wiltshire GMB Union

Andy newman

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: YES TO A REFERENDUM, YES TO VOTERS BEING GIVEN A REAL CHOICE
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2008, 09:55:17 PM »
 
But there is more to running a council than just the leader/mayor. Depending on which model is chosen, the consequence of an elected mayor is often that other senior positions are filled by appointees, people that nobody has elected for any purpose. And whilst there are other models, they don't seem to be that popular.

There are only two choices of leadership available....

1. Council appointed Leader and Cabinet

2. Publicly elected Mayor and Cabinet

...But this rush to discredit elected mayors is a smoke laying exercise. There's plenty of time to debate elected Mayors a bit later, we're in no hurry to rush the debate to a conclusion because we think it should be thorough and honest, which it certainly wasn't the first time around in 2001.

So, let's look at the elephant in the room and discuss how our current council appointed leader and cabinet model came to be adopted.

Was the 2001 consultation data accurate, was it fairly summarised by Sue Bates, Mike Bawden and Mike Evemy?

Were they right to recommend that the Council appointed Leader and cabinet model of leadership be adopted?

Was it right that other councillors had apparently not seen or read the consultation report?

Was it right that the motion to change the councils constitution was nodded through without discussion or debate after a motion of no confidence in the council had been carried and the leader and entire cabinet has resigned and left the chamber?

Shouldn't that meeting have been postponed?

Does it concern you that councillors known to have been present in the chamber on the 27th of September 2001 say they have no recollection of voting to change the constitution and formally adopt the Council appointed leader and cabinet model of leadership?

Lets find out what people think about the above and why they were unfairly denied the opportunity to vote the first time around before we allow ourselves to be rushed to a premature debate and judgement on elected Mayors themselves.

Us voters should, imho, question why those of us who think they're just a bit more equal than the rest of us want to rush straight into telling us what is best for us without discussing the first chapter of the story.

I have a view, but I'm interested to learn whether it's as rare as one of Andy's Socialist Unity voters  :)

 


Offline komadori

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Re: YES TO A REFERENDUM, YES TO VOTERS BEING GIVEN A REAL CHOICE
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2008, 10:42:31 PM »
...But this rush to discredit elected mayors is a smoke laying exercise.

No, it is not. If, like me, you believe that elected mayors are a bad idea then it is perfectly reasonable to discuss why that is so with the aim of discouraging people from supporting a referendum. If one is content with the status quo (or at least believe it is the best of the options that government allow us to consider) then a referendum is a pointless waste of money.

 There's plenty of time to debate elected Mayors a bit later, we're in no hurry to rush the debate to a conclusion because we think it should be thorough and honest, which it certainly wasn't the first time around in 2001.

So, let's look at the elephant in the room and discuss how our current council appointed leader and cabinet model came to be adopted.

Well, if you must. ::)

Us voters should, imho, question why those of us who think they're just a bit more equal than the rest of us want to rush straight into telling us what is best for us without discussing the first chapter of the story.

I'm hopeful that a sufficent number of people will, as I do, find that discussion irrelevent to the question of whether Swindon should now have an elected mayor for it to turn into a own-goal for your campaign.
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