Have you, like me, been following the Presidential Campaign in the USA? Wow! They know how to drag something out don't they?
It has been fun to watch though, and seeing the candidates Obama & McCain, turning out in all corners of the country to bid for those last few votes made me realise just how important it is for politicians of what ever level, to connect with the electorate.
I know that last week, it was a fairly intense news week. Feeling was running high throughout the city in the run up to the governance referendum, and for what? A below 20% turn out!
I found myself pondering why the turn out was so bad, do the people of our city care about what happens? Are the population so pissed off at the state of local politics? I came to the conclusion that councillors and MP's alike need to engage with the population of our city!
Over the next seven months, our politicians have a chance of a new beginning, a clean slate. There is too much complacency, councillors say all to often " this is the way it's always been done", well that just won't do anymore!
The debate in this city of who will be leader and what party stands for what has got to be re-ignited. The people of Stoke on Trent need to be won over and our interest in the local political issues awakened.
What I would like to see is for us to take a leaf out of America's book. I want to see the candidates for the Leadership contest go head to head in a number of public debates at somewhere like the Kings Hall (pictured top right) in Stoke with a packed audience and the whole thing broadcast to the entire city.
We have been small time for too long now, time to think big! It's is time for our politicians to be made to face their electorate and to answer the questions put to them from us, the public.
We don't want the Council's highly paid press officer fencing the more demanding and sensitive questions. We don't want it all to be kept "low key" and to be sorted behind close doors.
We want straight answers, straight talking and above all, we want the best man/woman winning.
By the time next May come around we want each party to state who is going to be their preferred Leadership Candidate and it should be this person that faces the public and fights to win the day for their parties! We want to know what each and every party stands for and what their manifesto is, so that we can make are minds up who will do the best job of leading our city.
They should know that if they do not deliver on their promises, both leader and party will be made to pay at the first chance at the ballot box, nowhere to run and no where to hide!
I would love the chance of chairing these debates. I would make sure every question was answered by all the leadership candidates. Imagine a packed Kings Hall and on stage the Labour, Conservative, Libdem, BNP and Independents leadership candidates all trying to win the day for their party and for themselves.
This would surely bring the party voice back into Stoke after so long of just hearing the same old, same old from the Elected Mayor and his Portfolio Holders.
We deserve more don't we? We deserve a choice of what party and we deserve to know which leader we will get from that chosen party, don't we?
So I throw the gauntlet down to the parties in our City:
Labour - Will it be Mike, Mark or Joy and what will you do for this City? Are your group united? Will you do better than when you had the majority last time? Will you look again at the decisions that made the Labour Elected Mayor so unpopular?
Conservative - Will it be Roger or Ross, and what will you do for the people you have so badly let down in Trentham and what Tory policies can we hear about?
Libdem - Will it be Jean or Keiran and how will you make your party electable in a city that has seen so few Libdem candidates in the past, will you tell us just what do you stand for?
BNP - Will it be Alby, Mike or Steve and is your party racist? What will you do for the sizable number of British people born here but who's skin colour isn't white?
What do we have to fear from you?
Independent - Will it be Alan, Brian or Terry and just what the hell do you lot stand for? What are your policies? Why do you court all the other parties in this city? Have you got a party manifesto?
I feel so passionate about getting this PUBLIC debate on and I want your help! I promise you I would make Jeremy Paxman seem like Bambi! I want to know what questions you want answers to! I want to know who you want as each parties Leader Candidate or who you don't want! I want to know if you would attend a U.S. type of debate at the Kings Hall?
If we applied the pressure on to our local politicians they would not be able to get out of such an event! Can we make this happen?