Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Leicester Labour wars: Ross Willmott comes back fighting

Regular readers will recall that Ross Willmott was sacked as chair of the city council's scrutiny committee by Leicester's elected mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.

That's right: the mayor, because he wields the Labour whip, has the power to appoint and dismiss the person supposed to hold him to account. This is just one more reason why elected mayors are a bad idea. No wonder voters usually rejected that idea when they are asked.

But Willmott has not take it lying down and has written a bitterly satirical blog post about the man Soulsby out in his place, Ted Cassidy:
On his first day as scrutiny monitor T.C. (Top Cat to his friends) was clearly more worried about how long he would keep his place at this school rather than actually getting on with his work. Perhaps understandable for someone who relies entirely on the patronage of his ruthless guardian. 
He had not even prepared his work plan for the new year, but promised to have it by next month. 
It is the talk of the senior common room that T.C.’s guardian broke all the school rules to get him a place here. He held secret meetings with some of the school governors even at the house of senior prefect Clair, who provided pizza from the tuck shop. He also turned up to a meeting of the head teacher and bursar even though the school rules make it clear that he should not interfere in the appointment of scrutiny monitors. ... 
10 house points are awarded as T.C.’s vain attempt to end the webcasting of the class was unsuccessful. This failed attempt to stifle openness and transparency was no doubt at the request of his guardian, whose colonial approach seems to derive from his love of the past.
Childish? Perhaps, but don't knock it.

The animosities among its Labour grandees are the only thinks that keep Leicester halfway to being a democracy at the moment.

1 comment:

Charlieman said...

For the last year or so, I have felt that the Leicester Mayor was a product trial; let a few people use the deodorant under their arms, ask their opinions, but don't assume that it is fit for public release. The dispute over salary suggested that everyone was working things out from scratch. Similarly the relationships with council officers, the role of scrutineer, or establishing debate in a council where all but two members come from the Labour Party.

Sadly, product trial was not the case. Executive Mayors existed elsewhere in England before infliction on Leicester. One would have hoped that lessons were learned elsewhere. Why is Leicester City Council still working everything out as they go?

I'd suggest that the fundamental flaw is (still is) that nobody knows what the Leicester Mayor is supposed to do. Evidence to support that is inability to determine mayoral salary and inability to define mayoral executive and political roles. Is the Mayor a replacement for Chief Executive? If you can't make up your mind how much to pay somebody, how did you decide what they are supposed to do for you?