Speaking on their local party website this month Councillor Mo Khursheed, leader of the Labour Group on Hillingdon Council, praised the use of petitions as ‘a way for residents to express their views to those in government at every level and affect decision making’.
He goes on to say, “Making your voice heard, whether it’s through petitions or direct action in working with others to support existing facilities, is an essential part of our democracy.So if something concerns you let us know,individually or collectively, as we want to support local democracy in all its forms”
This address was also repeated in this weeks Hayes & Harlington edition of the Gazette.
So, Councillor Khursheed, if you are so keen on petitions to let the people have their say, why have you not replied to my letter concerning the petition for an Elected Executive Leader (Elected Mayor) for Hillingdon?
The English Democrats, led by Chairman Robin Tilbrook (right), have registered petitions with all the councils in England who do not currently have an elected leader to have a referendum on one. Regular visitors to this site will know that the Hillingdon English Democrats have designated this a priority over the next twelve months, and that we need just shy of 10,000 signatures on the petition to legally force Hillingdon Council in to a referendum on the way we are governed locally. After all, this is giving the people of Hillingdon a say in the way democracy operates at a local level, just as Councillor Khursheed professes to support.
So why no answer to my letter?
Upsetting the status quo
Having an elected leader of the council means that the people, rather than local politicians, have the say on who makes the decisions that affect them. More importantly, if the people don’t like the job that the Elected Leader is doing, they can remove him at the ballot box.
This has led to a number of councils being run by local people who are in touch with the issues that matter to their electorate, including Ray ‘Robocop’ Mallon in Middlesbrough, and Stuart Drummond (Football mascot H’Angus the Monkey) in Hartlepool. They have no party political allegiance, but have both been re-elected because they are doing a good job for the people they represent, and can make judgement calls without having to run it past a national party.
The English Democrats also have an elected Mayor in Doncaster – The irrepressible Peter Davies (pictured above left)
Peter makes the establishment very nervous, because he makes decisions based on what local people want, and ignores political correctness – He is also not afraid to make his own judgement calls, and tell the national party what is right for the people of Doncaster irrespective of what the party may think!
I feel that the reason why the local Labour party do not want to engage on this is that it is a case of ‘better the devil you know’ – With the current system of ‘Strong Leader’ employed by the Borough, the Labour councillors know that they are safe in their seats in the South of the Borough, and can play the part of the oppressed poor relation to the local council cabinet (right), who are all Conservative and from the north of the Borough. This partitioning does no-one any favours, except for the two main parties on the council, who know that they are safe in their seats, and can carry on this cosy little arrangement.
Having a free vote on whether we want an elected leader leaves the local politicians open to scrutiny by the electorate, and the possibility that an independent or smaller party may have a say in how our area is run in the same way that these votes have gone in the North East and Yorkshire – Better to keep your job on a good salary and play the ‘underdog’ than pass power over to an elected representative of the people, Mo?
Terrified of the People’s Will
I have been in touch by letter and email with all of the Political parties in the Borough (Except for the BNP and National Front) on the subject of the Elected Leader Referendum. I have heard nothing back.
So what are they so scared of? Don’t we live in a democracy?
I think we only have to look at some of the things that Peter is trying to do in Doncaster to see the answers. Can you imagine any of our local politicians being pleased with the following action points….
* Leader of the council gives himself a 60% pay cut when elected, and scraps the mayoral limousine.
* Elected leader looks at how many councillors are on the payroll, and suggests to the electoral commission that two thirds can be done away with – After all, comparable sized councils in the US and Canada operate on less than 12 councillors, and the Elected Leader and his cabinet are running things anyway (In the same way that the current Leader of the Council does, but looks after his councillor chums to make sure he maintains his position when they have their behind closed doors vote on who is the council leader) Getting rid of 40 councillors would save Hillingdon on average £2 million per year (Based on £50k per councillor)
* Scrapping of the twin towns scheme, which are ‘A jolly for the councillors on the taxpayers expense’
*Removal of subsidy for ‘Politically correct’ causes – In Doncaster, Peter removed the public funding for the local Gay Pride Parade, although he was happy for it to go ahead if the organisers funded it themselves.
We all know that cuts are coming locally, this has been spelled out to us on the news and in both the national and local press.
Despite this, local politicians will not engage on changes to local democracy that will enable local people to decide on how we go ahead.
I have contacted JohnMcDonnell via email,post and telephone to try and get him to take this forward, and like Councillor Khursheed I have had no reply. I have also contacted one of the Conservative cabinet members, but if he replies it would be like a turkey voting for Christmas!
If you are reading this, Nick Hurd or JohnRandall, how about making a stand for the people who elect you, rather than towing the party line for once?
I won’t hold my breath, but I cordially invite ALL local councillors, MP’s and party members to come forward and join in the campaign for a renewal of democracy at local level via the elected leader campaign, irrespective of your party allegiance.
It is time to put the people and the country first, ahead of political allegiances and personal gain.
What do you think? Let us know where you stand on the Elected Leader campaign.