Yesterday I attended a debate arguing whether Bradford should have an elected mayor or not. These are some highlights and pictures from the event. It was my first political hustings I have attended, and I didn’t really know what to expect. A ‘hustings’ basically means a place where political campaign speeches are made.
Jeanette Sunderland, who is with the Liberal Democrats, was against having an elected mayor, because she thought such a person would have too much power, and if there was an elected mayor it would be more likely to be a man who was quite wealthy – even though our current mayor is a woman?
Another incident during Sunderland’s speech was at a point when she asked the crowd “who actually voted in the last local election?” she assumed hardly anybody had, therefore, they probably would not vote for an elected mayor. But she was slightly taken aback when at least 75% of the crowd sitting there put their hand up. But people who attend hustings are normally very political, so therefore are more likely to vote.
The only people who were in support of an elected mayor were Alyas Karmani from the Respect party and Simon Cooke from the Conservative party. I noticed when Alyas Karmani was delivering his speech, David Green from the Labour party (who was against an elected mayor) was blatantly on his phone.
Alyas Karmani gave quite a good speech; first he criticised the current councils for their consistent failings. He then stated what a Mayor’s role should be and explained they are a “voice for the entire city and a champion”. He also questioned why Ian Greenwood had not attended the debate and it was as if the “council was being run by Laurel and Hardy!”
There was some heckling during the debate, especially when it was time to ask questions because the Chair, Ratna Latchman, gave everyone the chance to air their thoughts, despite the fast pace of the discussion, and managed to tie things together quite neatly!
Overall, there wasn’t a huge turnout, and I expected some drama and possibly a fight. But it was quite a good experience and I would probably go again because you sort of get a feel for the process and if I hadn’t gone I probably wouldn’t know how the process works.