I’m glad that Bristol is voting for a directly elected Mayor on Thursday. I made the case for a yes vote in the referendum, which put me out of line with many of my local Lib Dem colleagues. I think a Mayor will be able to secure the devolution of more power from Westminster to Bristol. It is vital that the first person to hold the job is able to work with our neighbours and also the Coaliton Government.
Many people rightly see the election as an opportunity for a fresh start in Bristol local government. There has been talk of the need for less tribal politics and a willingness to bring people of all talents together on behalf of our city. I agree. While I am clearly a Liberal Democrat MP I have never believed that my party has a monopoly of wisdom and virtue. I have always recognised that there are good and bad people in all parties.
Leaving aside our party labels I think there are two types of people in politics – tribalists and pluralists. Tribalists believe in the domination of their own party, with no room for alternative opinion. Think of Gordon Brown or Margaret Thatcher! I think the majority of Bristolians want our first Mayor to be a pluralist. To some this implies a candidate standing as an independent. But party candidates can also be pluralists. In the current election it is only the Labour candidate who has said that he will work solely with Labour councillors.
Jon Rogers is a pluralist. He is also a liberal and a green. He is a pluralist by temparament, always seeing the potential for collaberation. In local politics he is a pluralist by choice. He could easily appoint a deputy Mayor and cabinet solely from Liberal Democrat councillors. They are the largest group on the City Council. An “Independent” Mayor is a pluralist by neccessity. He or she would have no choice but to work with councillors from the party groups, otherwise they would be holding absolute power to themselves.
Jon also has the experience to hit the ground running from day one as Mayor. He has lived in the city for over 30 years. He has spent his entire professional career here, looking after patients as a family doctor. This has brought him into contact with people from all walks of life. It is of significance that from April next year the Mayor will take over from the NHS the responsibilty for tackling health inequalities in the city. He is the best qualified candidate for this task.
Jon also has the political experience necessary to lead Bristol. He has represented Ashley ward on the council for the last seven years. This is the most socially diverse ward in the city, with people from all incomes and ethnic backgrounds. Jon can relate to all Bristolians. He has also played a leading role in the Council’s cabinet, driving through recent improvements in services. He has good relationships with councillors from Bath and other neighbouring authorities. He can also pick up the phone to Coalition Government Ministers to press the case for Bristol.
Jon knows what needs to be done to make Bristol great. He has the personal qualities and political skills to make a great Mayor of Bristol. I hope you will join me in giving him your first preference vote.
To find out more about Jon look here www.jonrogers.org.uk
I hope you will also support Pete Levy for Avon and Somerset Police Commissionerwww.petelevy.org
To find out more about the Supplementary Vote system used in these elections, see yesterday’s blog.