Vote for the Ballot Box not the Backroom Stitchup to govern Bristol

1 05 2012

I was initially undecided on the Mayor debate. Paul Smith changed my mind. The simplest argument is nearly always the best. Is it right that the leader of Bristol is elected by 70 Councillors or by hundreds of thousands of Bristol’s citizens?

Barbara Janke has set this question into sharp focus by announcing she will stand down as Lib Dem leader at the start of the new Council

What is the current process to replace her?

1. Between now & the 8th May the Lib Dem leadership candidates will privately speak to their fellow Lib Dem Cllrs.

  • We don’t know what promises will be made in this process
  • We don’t know if Cabinet positions are offered or deals are done
  • We don’t know if the candidates will discuss their programme with their peers

2. On the 8th May 2012 the 32 Lib Dem Councillors will sit in secret in a closed room in the Council House and vote on who they want as their leader.

  •  On past performance their leader will probably be elected with a majority of around 2 Councillors (17 votes).
  • We won’t get to know what the person’s programme is, their plans for the city or hopes for the future.
  • The leaders may also “deliver” a block of candidates for the cabinet posts. The preference of these people appears to be based on support for the leader or fencing off “dangerous” potential opponents. Ability to do the job does not appear to be a consideration.
  • The Lib Dem group is under strict instructions not to discuss this with the public
  • As a voter your view will not be sought or considered.

3. Between the 8th and the 15th May 2012 the Lib Dems will probably meet with someone from the Tories (again in secret)

  • I imagine the Tories will extract various assurances and promises for their support of the Lib Dem leader
  • They will not be fully aware of what the person’s programme is, their plans for the city or hopes for the future. (but they will know more than all other Bristol’s citizens)
  • We will not be permitted to know if or how any deal affects the programme of the Lib Dem leader.
  • As a voter your view will not be sought or considered.

4. Sometime between the 8th and the 15th May 2012 Bristol’s 13 Tories will meet in secret to discuss support of the Lib Dem leader.

  • We will not get to know if further concessions are requested
  • We will not know if the Tory group are fully informed by their negotiators of what was discussed.
  • They will vote in secret to support the Lib Dem leader
  • As a voter your view will not be sought or considered.

5.  At the Council meeting on 15th May Councillors will “vote” on the new Council leader.

  • The discussion and debate will be meaningless. The result will already be determined.
  • No representations from the public will have an affect on the selection
  • The Lib Dem leader will not be obliged to set out their programme.
  • As a voter your view will not be sought or considered.

The Yes to Mayors Campaign want to change this. They think we should have a directly elected Mayor:

  • Elected every 4 years.
  • Every Bristol citizen over the age of 18 having a vote
  • Candidates will have to set out their programme for the future of Bristol
  • Successful candidates will look to the public as their electorate and choose their Cabinet from the best people for the job not organising a stitch up amongst supporters.

The status quo is not democracy it is purely backroom politics. The latter is democracy.

The status quo has led to unstable leadership of our city and very very low horizons.

I believe the ballot box not the backroom stitch up is the only democratic way to choose our leaders.

If you do too. Make sure you vote for change and against business as usual in the  Referendum on the 3rd of May.

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