Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Pickles and Gollop

The 'Second Preference' dilemma

The prospect of casting a 'second preference' vote at next month's mayoral elections means looking beyond a preferred (but outsider) candidate to 'the men most likely to'.

The 'Supplementary Vote' is far from democratic (which is probably appropriate in an election that will concentrate public power in one pair of – probably masculine - hands) . But it does give the chance to cast a second vote, and that makes it possible to cast an honest first vote for a preferred 'outsider' candidate. If at the first count they don't make it into the first two, then the second vote will count toward the final result – so long as it happens to be for one of the two who top the list when first preference votes are counted.

The current bookie's favourites are listed here. Note that the LibDem's are now down to third in the betting – but don't expect a correction to appear in Jon Roger's hype now. And note that the chances of a female mayor are assessed at 66 to 1 !

According to the same bookies, Geoff Gollop falls between the outsider and favourite groups – embarrassingly behind Independent Spud Murphy, his one time colleague on the council's Tory benches.
photo- the Post
Geoff won't be helped, either, by being seen at a Fishponds photo-op alongside the much reviled Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who would (according to the Post) effectively be his line manager as Mayor. I'm sure that command line isn't what was wanted even by the 13% of the electorate who want a mayor for Bristol. Eric may be one of the few 'state grammar' plebs among the toffs in the Cabinet, but even that wins him few admirers. He despises local government, as his own record running Bradford shows.

Of course Geoff already has a line manager in the shape of local Tory leader Peter Abraham – the fellow who claims he can empty his own mind at will. Peter should have been the warm up act for Geoff at the last council meeting – but he spent so long indulging in an irrelevant party political waffle (the kind that's being used to prove a mayor will represent us better ) that there was no time for Geoff's promised demolition of the case for Quality Bus Contracts. We'll have to wait a bit longer for that, then.

Geoff Gollop's mayoral website doesn't contain anything resembling a manifesto – but among the lists of good (or bad) intentions, these are the only firm commitments:

  • Scale back the role of the LEA
  • Introduce a schools olympics
  • Extend the period for intake/acceptance
Green Policy: 
  • Install solar panels on council house roofs
  • Create and restore nature reserves
  • Open a community fund to create more allotments
  • Make Bristol physically green (I suspect that needs rephrasing!)
  • Go ahead with Bus Rapid Transit
  • Scrap some bus-only lanes
  • Continue the spread of a city-wide 20mph limit – but with exceptions

It doesn't tell us much else, though, even for those obligations for which any mayor must have a policy . Like how he'll face up to further deep cuts to the budget (or pay for the wish-list above). Or what he thinks about local (neighbourhood) democracy. Or anything about the care services.

Generally, Geoff Gollop is regarded as a decent, likeable man. But in the mayoral elections the balance tips away from him as a potential second preference vote.

There's his poor placing in the 'likely mayors' list, that would make the vote wasted.
There's the broad theme in his platform of outsourcing essential services
There's the failure to declare how he'd tackle the really big issues.
And there's the company he keeps.

Right, that's one ruled out.

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