Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: Party politics

What are you doing on 4th May?

This year the annual Star Wars “funny” date will have a serious and profound change to the way we are governed in the regions of England. We get to vote for a Metro Mayor, a “metro metro mayor, who wants to be a metro mayor?”… sorry, I went all Village People there.

This is election is rather important. A Metro Mayor will be responsible for key priorities in the English regions they are being elected, which will affect you every day. A Metro Mayor will be able to spend around a billion pounds of your money on these priorities over the next ten years. One Billion pounds. 10 years. Metro Mayors will be taking over these key responsibilities from the current local councils and authorities.

Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset along with South Gloucestershire councils have all come together with their 900,000 people to have a Metro Mayor for the West. You get to vote for the one you want on 4th May. So what will she or he actually be able to do for you and me?

Our West Metro Mayor will be responsible for planning, transport and education (apprenticeships) so you can expect that they will build more houses, more roads, improve rail and airport links plus create more jobs and encourage new businesses to come here with apprenticeships schemes. All good news. Well, not quite. There are some key problems with there being a Metro, Metro Mayor.

One. North Somerset are not part of it and Bristol Airport is on their patch. Will the other three council areas vote to hand over their Metro Mayor cash to support North Somerset and improve the links to the airport? North Somerset gain from this but North Somerset are autonomous, not having to answer to a Metro Mayor.

Two. North Somerset are going to be building more than 20,000 homes in the next ten years, some 6,000 more than they wanted to build. That’s central government for you. Those new residents are going to be drawn up the M5 to Bristol and Bath for work and play. That’s a lot of people using the region’s already struggling roads and public transport without any controls on them or where the homes will be built. Will all Metro Mayor spending stop dead at Gordano, like three lanes of caravans on a wet summer Saturday morning?

Three. The Metro Mayor’s spending money is £33m a year. This sounds like a lot when you look at the cuts our four councils are having to make. The new South Bristol link road, which took 18 months to build, is just over three miles long cost £45m. So, by that maths, our new Metro Mayor can build 2(ish) miles of road a year and that’s it. Of course he or she could use that money to borrow more money, which will happen, but this means a Metro Mayor will be more creating debt for the future.

Four. The actual election of the Metro Mayor. There is only one reason to vote in the West on May 4th this year and that is for a Metro Mayor. You will be voting for a new and an extra layer of government on top of our councils and between the West’s MP’s and Westminster. That is going to be a hard sell for all the political parties. The result will be an even harder sell if the turnout is low. Anything less than 20% turnout is going to look a bit rubbish.

As Nat “King” Cole once sang “there may be trouble ahead”. There may also be some answers to some of the key issues of the West on transport, housing and creation of new jobs in a fast changing jobs market. This may help the West with the back ground of both Brexit and a more protectionist United States. We live in a world where adding layers of government or management seems to be an answer. This often seems to be the result of those in charge who say they want to “remove” layers of government and management. Maybe this is a way of deflecting responsibility or maybe it’s a way of creating accountability?

You decide, on May 5th, if you vote on May 4th (be with you).

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It’s election time, there’s no reason to be afraid

It’s less than a month until the nation decides, until we get our chance to have our say. Excited? No, me neither.

The Fix Term Parliament Act has taken all the excitement and fun out of ‘the election’. We knew when this election was going to be, if we actually gave a stuff, years ago. So did the politicians and so did the media. All this nonsense about TV debates not happening and candidates not being ready or prepared is utter tosh. If any of them are not ready then, frankly, get off the stage preferable pursued by a bear. That would make great TV. Channel 5 would make a series out of it.

There was a time, not in a good ole days ‘Gorr blimey, ‘ave a banana, we use to leave all our windows and doors open’ way, when elections were called and you got three weeks of campaigning. Out would trot the political candidates wearing oversize rosettes like podgy gymkhana ponies asking for your vote. Then, after polling day, they left you alone again for another four years or so. Now Politicians seem to have it in their heads that we want to hear from them all the time. Politicians should be like the bank manager, the Doctor or the police. You never, ever want to hear from them because when you do it’s usually bad news.

The 2015 General Election has been going on since the party conference season last year, and look where we are in the polls? It’s neck and neck and not a cigarette paper (to be found behind a screen and soon to be in a plain packet because nanny knows best) between the two main parties in policy terms. At least some of the smaller parties have more radical or wacky, far out, sensible or stupid policies. Please delete or use the words you feel fits your politics.

Politicians have got to stop thinking we care about them and are actually interested in them. Politicians have a job to do and we have our life to lead. Our electoral contract should be as simple as this. I elect you as an MP or Councillor and then you go away and do your job. You don’t get in my way or tax me too much. You are fair to everyone, not just those who support your party and you keep me safe. And stop asking me what you should do as I elected you to do it, as I have my own life to lead.

A sensible, liberal democracy should allow us the right to vote freely and then to be left alone. If Politicians or political parties are going to muck about with our local schools, healthcare, energy bills or the tax I pay (and tax IS the price of civilisation) then it better be for the REAL benefit of my family, friends and me. If not then you’re out next time.

A few last points.

If you are a political party member or standing for election don’t think most of us give a stuff about your party’s ‘vision’ or ‘policies’ because we don’t. Have you ever read a manifesto? More people are members of the RSPB than are members of all the main political parties. We like birds more so maybe politicians should more like birds? Maybe, if you want to get elected, you should dress up as a chicken or a cock.

TV debates are for a presidential system not for our constituency based electoral system. You and I should be voting for the best person to represent us where we live, not a just a leader and a bunch of party lemmings to do their bidding.

Any politician who says they want ‘power’ or ‘when we are in power’ or ‘when we get into power’ must be denied that power at all costs. You are not voting anyone into power. You are voting for someone to represent you, your family, your friends and your neighbors. You are voting for someone to keep you and yours safe and well. Any election candidate who wants power is in the wrong country. You and your vote is the power and those you elect are your servants.

The General Election is all well and good and when you have your MP you will either desperately need their help (and I hope this never happens to you) or you will want to avoid them like a bad smell emanating from an old dog. Please remember the local elections too, as this matter more in your everyday life. Local Councils and your local councillor are more important than your MP.

Finally to that vital democratic cross you have. It’s yours to use. It is real power that you give in majority to your elected representative. Many have died for you to use your vote. Your vote is not free. Your vote comes with responsibility and reason. If you decide not to vote that is your absolute right in our democracy, but if you don’t vote then you can’t moan about the ‘bloody government or council’.

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