Here's an advance look at the mayoral election booklet. that should come through your letterbox before long. Page 12 brings this list of hard promises from Labour candidate Marvin Rees.
If elected I will:
- Build 4,000 affordable homes and crack down on bad private sector landlords
- Build an Arena and back the two football stadiums
- Make Bristol a Living Wage City, paying at least £7.20 an hour
- Get cheaper, more flexible childcare - working with businesses, schools, and sports clubs
- Introduce cheaper fares with a Brunel Travelcard and more accountable bus services
- Make Bristol Greener, supporting local markets and sustainable energy
- Involve more people in our city's decision making with four question times a year and weekly phone-ins.
As part of a booklet containing 14 rival mini-manifestos, this is more likely to be speed-read than considered in depth. That's a pity.... not many candidates make firm promises, and these are worth a second, if sceptical, glance. At least the Greens' Daniella Radice has provided a much more comprehensive manifesto that covers most of Marvin's shortlist in much more depth, and a website where these and other ideas can be challenged.
Marvin must have been advised not to go down that path....
Every Labour promise begs more questions (not practicable here) about how, or whether, any mayor could deliver – especially when there are so many enforced government cuts threatening everything local government does.
More than that, his unashamed “I will build an Arena” bid to tap popular calls for stadia and an Arena is, to say the least, rash.
Can Marvin really be talking about pouring public money (what money?) into someone else's commercial Arena, or is it just part of the same wish-list shared by nearly all the candidates?
As for the stadia (read BCFC Ashton Vale) what form will his promised backing take? Everything's already in place, thanks to all the costly concessions already made by the council – except for one obstacle, the controversial Town Green application. That's a quasi-judicial matter, to be dealt with according to law, not by political influence. Does Marvin maybe intend to pack the relevant committee with people who'll 'vote the right way' ? It's hard to see how else he could guarantee delivery. As bobs commented to the Ashton Gate Blogger: “Marvin Rees – the first public servant to declare an intention to commit misfeasance in public office before he is even elected. “
As for the final promise, and given my own recent problems with local – neighbourhood – democracy, I'm keeping an eye on what the candidates have to say on making it happen. Marvin says nothing. Mayoral Question Times and phone ins don't even start to do it.
The overall picture, from the promise list and the rest of the battery of propaganda coming from Labour's national electoral machine, is very much one of an autocratic all-powerful 'city mayor'; just the thing I voted against earlier this year.
My own first preference vote is, of course, committed. But - just in case that doesn't deliver - it would have been nice to cast a second preference vote for a socialist with a chance of winning. Pity there's no-one fits the bill.