Monday 12 April 2010

Barnet Tory calls for directly elected Mayor

Don’t Call Me Dave is acutely aware that his attempt to restrain from blogging is not going very well this month! But an interesting debate is taking place in the message thread of a previous blogpost which is worthy of wider debate.

Jonny on the Web is promoting the Residents Association of Barnet (RAB) who are fielding 15 candidates in the forthcoming local election.

In response to a comment by former Councillor Daniel Hope, who accused RAB of being "an incoherent group without a plan of action", Jonny wrote:
“I think you are underestimating them and what they stand for. It is not about having a leader; that is old fashioned, big party thinking. RAB is an umbrella group of like minded independents who believe that the council can and should be run more effectively for the interests of the residents of Barnet not political dogma. Don't look at the structure, look at the individuals. We need to return to a time when councillors represented the community they live in, not what central office tells them.”
Daniel Hope, who is now proprietor of the Barnet Bugle, replied:
“I think they have made an error in presenting themselves as a 'Party'. People have an understanding as to what that it. I actually think they are going about it completely the wrong way. To get what they want I think the ONLY way is to campaign for a directly elected Mayor in Barnet (through a referendum) and then seek to get their choice of Mayor elected.”
Mr Hope is a well known advocate of directly elected Mayors and, whilst it is certainly true that we do not need yet another layer of government in this country, a directly elected Mayor would certainly minimise the abuse of the electoral process which allows political parties to ignore the result of the ballot box to suit their own ends. The public voted for Blair and got Brown. In Barnet, voters elected Salinger but were saddled with Freer.

The Conservative Party has proposed giving voters the power of recall which will go some way to holding MPs accountable between elections. There is an arguable case that directly elected Mayors would have a similar effect on the running of Town Halls.

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