Monday, 13 October 2008


Following on from my earlier blog when Mike Barnes of Democracy4Stoke spoke to us it's now the turn of Paul Breeze to give us his reasons why we should vote to keep the Mayoral system. So in the "VOTE NO" corner weighing in with the "Peoples Choice" argument:


Don’t be confused about this referendum. What it boils down to is very simple.



I am one of those 186,000 Stoke-on-Trent citizens. I don’t want to give up my vote to just 60 councillors. I am appalled at the arrogant contempt the majority of councillors have towards us as citizens that they have actually forced a referendum to put this insulting proposition to us.

I will categorically be voting NO in this referendum. I urge every fellow resident of Stoke-on-Trent to do the same – because if you vote YES, you will be giving up your own vote and choice, and also that of your children and the next generations to come. We will no longer have any say in who runs our own city.

We already had a referendum in 2002. We, the people, chose to change the governance arrangements of Stoke-on-Trent to give ALL current and future residents across the city the opportunity to choose to vote for the person we wanted to be the directly accountable city leader, a directly Elected Mayor; and more importantly, the power to remove them if we don‘t like them or we don’t think they are doing a good job.

In a Leader and Cabinet system, councillors choose, from amongst themselves, the leader they want. We have no power to remove them.

The reason we voted for an Elected Mayor system in the first place was because our existing Leader and Cabinet system, under councillors and MPs control, led our City to: *decades of chronic decline; *a clueless lack of visionary leadership; *absolutely no adequate political, social, economic response to the decimation of the mining, steel and pottery industries; *behind-closed-doors deals, open to rampant corruption; *repeated financial disasters like the Cultural Quarter and Worldgate; *£millions of crippling debt, which ordinary council tax payers suffered from; *a rise of deep public cynicism and resentment, leading to many veering towards extremist views as a protest; *and ultimately Stoke-on-Trent shamefully being named in 2001 as the worst place to live in the UK.

Since 2002, under an Elected Mayor system our city is now on the right track. We are progressing: *up from a poor one star council to 3 stars and improving; *introduction of Building Schools for the Future programme; *investment of £millions of Renew regeneration money; *introduction of co-ordinated Area Implementation, Neighbourhood Management Teams tackling local issues; *reduction in crime; *£millions of investment coming through North Staffs Regeneration Partnership business plan; *rated as the best place to base a business in the UK; *the real, exciting prospect of Stoke-on-Trent being transformed into a dynamic, modern, city environment taken seriously across the country; *and the true democracy of a directly Elected Mayor accountable to all the citizens of Stoke-on-Trent.

Don’t be fooled. *Scrap the Mayor = Scrap your vote. *Democracy4Stoke = Democracy for 60 councillors and NO democracy for the rest of us. *The cost of an Elected Mayor & Cabinet is just the same as a Leader & Cabinet. *On the threat of extremism: you don’t disenfranchise the whole city population because some people might vote for something you disagree with. *On the complaint that Mayors have 4 years in office: so do councillors, MPs and MEPs.

The simple questions to bear in mind on October 23rd are: *Do you want to lose your vote? NO. *Do you want just councillors to choose who runs our city? NO. *Do you want this city to go backwards and return to the dark old days? NO.

If your answer to those questions is also NO, then make sure you vote NO on October 23rd. – and keep the power in the hands of all the people of our city.

Deciding who runs this city is everyone’s democratic right. We don’t need a handful of people deciding for us. It should – and must always be – the people’s choice in Stoke-on-Trent.

That is why we must VOTE NO on October 23rd.

Paul Breeze

Organiser/Chairman ‘People’s Choice’ Vote No Campaign

Follow this link to the Sentinel article:


brooneyes said...

Here, here!

Frank Fuller said...

I think an important point is that to be fair the elected mayor system has not had an opportunity to show what it can do as both Mayors so far have been a load of poop. Why Salih and Kent Baggaley - who led the Labour party at that time but have since been kicked - put Mark Meredith who nobody had ever heard of foward as their candidate I'll never understand. Maybe it was deliberate and they wanted the elected mayor system to fail?

Ian smith said...

The Tories said the new legislation was "bizarre", the Lib Dems said Ms Smith was in "humiliating retreat".
In an emergency Commons statement, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the measure would instead be the subject of a separate piece of legislation to be brought before Parliament if required.


Gary Elsby said...

A very interestin, but flawed interpretation of events by Paul Breeze.

1. We have had two e;ections for Elected Mayor.

2. Mike Wolfe LOST both of them but became 'elected'(?)in one of them.

3. George Stevenson MP (Labour) won the first one and Mark Meredith (Labour) won the second.

4. In the one that Mike Wolfe 'won'(because he had more second preferences)(George had more first preferences)The City not only thought they were saving the Lord Mayor from councillor extinction, they most certainly didn't want Mike Wolfe!

5. Mike Wolfe was removed at the earliest possible opportunity by those people (us) that didn't want him in the first place.

6. Labour is duty bound to field a candidate in everything and it should not surprise anyone that Labour actually did that.

7. Labour HAS and WILL speak again, at the earliest possible opportunity.

Frank Fuller said...

Gary Elsby - If the elected mayor system continues and Labour is duty bound to put forward a candidate, I think Labour is also duty bound to drop Mark Meredith and put forward someone of higher caliber.

Meredith has been just as poor a leader for the city as Barry Stockely and is now equally discredited as him.

Shaun Bennett said...

Why experienced people like Paul Breeze have to try to mislead and misrepresent what this referendum is about, I really don't know.

In reality, there is absolutely NO democratic difference between the two systems on offer. Under the elected mayor, the city will be run by the mayor and his 10 or so appointees in the cabinet as well as the senior council officers. Under that system they are held to account by local councillors elected by the people.

Under the Leader and cabinet system the city will be run by the Leader and his 10 or so appointees in the cabinet as well as the senior council officers. Under that system they are held to account by local counciilors elected by the people.

What exactly is the difference? It is that under the mayoral system we get to directly elect the monkey that is to run the city, and under the Leader system we get to indirectly elect the monkey that runs the city (through our election of local councillors). Neither system can claim any superior democratic legitimacy over the other. The only real difference is that under the mayoral system, local councillors are largely marginalised and irrelevant because the elected mayor doesn't really give two hoots what they think. At least under a Leader system, the Leader relies on his colleagues for his support, his fate is tied to that of his colleagues and he is bound by the decisions of his colleagues.

If it is so essential that we directly elect our leader, why is nobody calling for direct election to the office of Prime Minister? At present, the Prime Minister is indirectly elected from amongst our chosen representatives depending on who actually won the election. That is exactly the same system that we would have under a Leader and Cabinet system! If its good enough for the governance of the country, why is it not good enough for the governance of the city?

How on earth have we managed to survive the past 150 years without a directly elected figurehead to take the flack? How on earth have the great councils accross the country achieved their greatness under without an elected mayor?

In reality, the No campaign's claim to the democratic high ground is very silly and not supported by the weight of history.

As for Gary Elsby (at 11:53) I really must take issue with his assertion that Mike Wolfe 'lost' the first mayoral election back in 2002. According to Mr Elsby, Labour have won BOTH elections but were cruelly denied the chance to govern in 2002 due to the electoral system that was foisted upon us.

I agree that most people voted for George Stevenson in 2002, but under the rules of the system introduced by HIS party I'm afraid that he cannot claim that Mr Stevenson really 'won' that election-as he well knows.

Now if Mr Elsby is saying that we should sweep away all of these ridiculous electoral systems that the Blair government forced onto the country, I am happy to say that I am in full agreement with him. Perhaps if the Labour government had not been playing Russian roulette with our electoral system in a blatant and self serving attempt to court the Lib Dems, Mr Elsby would have found his party in a better position in a range of elections. Lets just hope he is able to convince Mr Brown that he should not gamble away our national electoral system at the first opportunity to stay in power in 2010!

Frank Fuller said...

A Labour acquaintence tells me that Mark Meredith lost the vote to be the Labour candidate 4 years ago which was run in a similar way to the actual election (another candidate got more 1st preference votes, but Meredith narrowly won when 2nd preference votes were added).

Please Gary Elsby and anyone else with Labour influence, if the elected mayor system continues do everything you can to ensure that Meredith is dropped as the Labour candidate this time and replaced with someone better!

brooneyes said...

Frank, I don't know how you dare use the word sychophantic towards me!
You are begging Labour to put up a better candidate?!!
How much damage does this party have to do before you wake from this stupidity induced coma you are in??

Frank Fuller said...

brooneyes - I could almost bring myself to vote for Meredith before I'd allow the city to walk into the disaster that a BNP Mayor would be.

The main political parties need to get their act together, and in Stoke-on-Trent that means Labour. If thats what it takes to send the BNP back under the rock they crawled from under then thats what must happen.

nicky said...

Paul Breeze does not convince me one bit.

Well said again Shaun.

Gary does labour have a decent candidate for mayor anyway? I don't think anyone need worry if labour choose Meredith again, because the people won't vote him in.

Frank, I'd put it another way: I could almost bring myself to vote BNP before I'd allow the city to walk back into the disaster that Mayor Meredith would be again!

brooneyes said...

I'm getting tired of your crap Frank. I didn't crawl out from under a rock, I'm not a nazi or a fascist, I'm a concerned parent that is sick and tired of watching this scummy Labour party do their level best to destroy this city, aided and abetted by morons like you, who vote for them no matter how damaging they are to this city!
You live in Tunstall and you say it isn't a hotbed for the BNP. Are you surprised?
Tunstall is becoming like a foreign country. The shops are foreign, the people are foreign, the language is foreign!
The black, minority ethnic percantage of Brownhills High school is nearly 50%!! How the hell can you justify that?!
And there are a lot on here who will say, "things like that don't matter." They don't matter, but they wouldn't want it for their own schools! And why should they?
This is supposed to be Britain, not a bloody extention of dozens of foreign lands!
If you want to see something that crawled out from under a rock, take a look in the mirror. You will see a traitor! A man that has sold out his own people, his own culture, his own country in favour of forcing a multicultural nightmare on the British people, people who have never been given the chance to have their say on it, despite this being their country, and despite the fact that they have been made to pay for it!
No Frank, you need to be looking much closer to home if you want to see the lowlife.

Tony said...

Frank and others have this opinion of the BNP because they are seen as being an extremist party with extreme beliefs. I think the vast majority of people in this city/county/country/ world would never vote for an extreme party and this is why i think that the BNP will never achieve any major victory apart from taking the odd few council seats in the odd town here and there in the country. How many MP's have your party got? NONE! because your stance on policies like immigration just go too far. No one will take the BNP seriously until people start electing BNP MP's to parliament. I have said many many times the countries immigration issues will never ever to resolved here in Stoke on Trent. The real and only reason that the BNP want the mayoral system isn't anything to do with wanting whats best for this city it is essential for the BNP because it's their only real chance of gaining control of the city, which in turn would allow the BNP to use it as a PR exercise and to say to the rest of the country "look these idiots in Stoke voted for us, so you can too!"

Zahid said...

Brooneyes, you really are scum, referring to the Asian population of Tunstall as foreigners.
As for Brownhills High School, the catchment area also includes Cobridge, so what do you expect!

brooneyes said...

Tony, I don't believe for a minute you believe that codswallop
you wrote.
Why are we seen as extremist? It isn't what we say, the government would jump all over us, and have done, at the very idea we were critical of this foreign invasion.
It certainly isn't what we do. Labour in particular are terrified we'll take their voter base away from them, and so anything we do is examined in the minutest detail.
We have no MP's because of several factors. For all intents and purposes, the BNP as it is now, only started in 1999 when Nick Griffin took over. So in a decade, we've gone from nothing to 100 councillors, and a seat on the London GLA. This is a trend that is going to continue because the people of this country are fed up with the sameness of the LibLabCon.
Whether you consider it racist, fascist, or any of those other words Labour supporters don't understand the meaning of, if you put to a vote what the biggest problem with this country is, the vast majority would say immigration. Burying your head in the sand and pretending that everything is honkey dorey is where the real danger lies, yet this is exactly what you're doing with this stubborn refusal to even look at the facts.
This isn't about PR, this is about rescuing our city from the hands of those that would destroy it, and that is no literary exagerration! Your big problem is that the LibLabCon are the parties that have brought us to this point in time, and the only viable option is the BNP.
As to your assertions that our immigration policies have gone too far, Habib Khan killed a man in cold blood, irrespective of what the courts say, and the trial of another immigrant has just started,
also from Stoke-on-Trent, also a muslim, only this time the charge is terrorism! Along with his accomplices, he tried to blow up 3,4 buildings? But our not wanting them here is extreme??
Let me tell you now, the only
extreme round here is your stupidity if you honestly believe you're right.
The second reason we have no MP's is because of the lies and smears spread by Labours supporters
in the most biased of national medias. There are posters on here who have complained about sencorship in the Sentinel, and these are not radicals! The advent, and the acceleration of the internet have allowed the BNP to get its message out to people without the state sencorship that would have happened through the normal media, and there are thousands of people everyday visiting our website, reading our policies for themselves, and making their own minds up as to what they want from future political representation!
If politics went the way it should, the parties would put before the people their policy ideas, then the people would choose who to vote for on the policies alone. But it isn't like that. There are those who want to give their parties an edge by lying, by smearing their opponents.
People are seeing through this behaviour and will no longer take what is told to them at face value.
This isn't about PR, it's about
regaining our pride and nationalism!

brooneyes said...

Zahid, I'm not scum, I'm an Englishman who is having to sit and watch the government of this country give it away to immigrants!
And what doesn't go to the immigrants, goes to the bloody EU!
And not once have the English been given the chance to say if this is what they want!
You make my point for me about the school!!
What else can you expect? That's what you said! Well, what else can we expect when the north of the city is being colonised by refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, illegals, and God knows what else! The point is there are far too many foreigners in Stoke-on-Trent, just as there are in Britain!

Zahid said...

Brooneyes, throwing another of your hissy fits I see.
Stop being so melodramatic- the north of the city is not being colonised by refugees, asylum seekers and illegals. The majority of the ethnic minority children at Brownhills will be of Pakistani origin NOT any of the people you mentioned.
My point about Brownhills was that it falls between Tunstall and Cobridge and that there are not many high schools in that area to choose from, were as say somewhere like Shelton falls in the catchment area of 3 high schools so you don't get a disproportionate amount of Asians all going to 1 school.
Any way Brownhills is ONE school- what about Berry Hill, Mitchell, Trentham, Holden Lane or Blurton-how many "foreigners" go there!

Gary Elsby said...

Shaun, Labour won more votes and lost the election.

Every winner was second choice, either in nominations or elections.

People power?

St George said...

in the following line, are you suggesting that the 60 Councillors are not elected by the population of Stoke ? are they appointed by somone from outer-space ?

"Don’t be fooled. *Scrap the Mayor = Scrap your vote. *Democracy4Stoke = Democracy for 60 councillors and NO democracy for the rest of us. "

I can contact my Councillors at their homes. YOU CANNOT DO THAT WITH THE MAYOR.

St George said...

The BNP, NF, England First - I could go on, are all right wing extreme fascist groups. Of course they are. They want the whole country to be exactly as they want it and no other way.

There are other totalitarian fascist groups on the other side too. Some legal (HT). Some not(Al-Ghouraba).

But you CAN NOT taint all white people as agreeing with you, and you CAN NOT taint all Muslims with being extreme Islamo-fascists either.

Get a Grip !

brooneyes said...

Zahid, if I want to throw a hissy fit, I bloody well will, and I don't need your permission.
I'm not being melodramatic either!
Brownhills wouldn't be full to overflowing with foreigners if you integrated istead of colonised!
But integration doesn't happen, you move in and take over and that's it, another part of our heritage gone, replaced by shops selling cheap nicknacks and bloody takeaways! And still the truth of this hasn't been faced upto. When
were the native people asked if this was what they wanted? This wouldn't happen in any of the countries where these immigrants come from, in fact, in places like South Africa, Zimbabwe, whites are chopped up or driven out! In the middle east, Christians are treated in the most appaling manner, and there is no chance of building a church. Iran has just re-introduced Apostasy laws, that's the death penalty for leaving islam. Yet you foreigners come here and expect to get a house, benefits, your own schools, mosques on every bloody corner. It's a ridiculous situation that needs putting right. No-one blames the immigrants for coming here and taking what they can, but it is out of hand, and the balance needs restoring.

Shaun Bennett said...

Yes Gary, but even though Labour got most votes they did not in fact 'win' under the terms of the system that Labour forced onto us.

You seem to be making the case for FPTP-and you will receive no complaints from me on that. But you are totally failing to address the point that it was YOUR party that introduced these new electoral systems for their own party political purposes. How on earth can you complain about the unfairness of it all now?

Zahid said...

WOW what a Diva you are Craig, you would do Tina Turner proud!!

"You foreigners" coming over here you say- I was born here and so were my parents. I gave my reasons for the disproportionate amount of Asians at Brownhills IE lack of other high schools to chose from in the immediate area.
Case in point, Shelton has a bigger ethnic minority population than Tunstall and is also much more multicultural as it is not just Asians who live there but they don't send all their children to just one school because they have CHOICE, the choice of 3 separate schools, they take that choice and integrate.

You talk of integration but you(BNP) don't want us to integrate anyway!

brooneyes said...

Zahid, before you act like the rest of them on here, and misrepresent the BNP, let me explain.
Settled immigrants, those that have been here, like your family, for several generations, they have the right to stay if they are here legally. The problem is twofold.
The first is the sheer numbers of foreigners being crammed into this country, and its causing all sorts of problems the government are refusing to take note of. From foreign communities starting their own shops, to architecture that is completely alien to the native style. There's all this talk of rights, but where are the rights of the indigenous people? Look what happened when the Brits went to India. The indians weren't happy till we'd left. Quite right too. It's not our country, it's not our place to be in there.
The second point is islam. Sorry, but there is no place for this backward and barbaric theocracy in any civilised country. Those that want to practise it can, just not here.
More and more everyday pour across our borders, and despite the fact we don't want it, we still have not been given the chance to say so. This is absolutely one of the things the BNP should offer the indigenous people, a vote on if this is what they want.
One of the other problems with a situation like this is it tars with the same brush those immigrants that came here because they wanted what Britain had to offer, not to come here for the freebies whilst trailing their own culture with them.
It's a fact of life that there are too many foreigners in this country, sorry if that offends you,
but that is what most Brits want, even if they haven't said it yet.

Zahid said...

Craig, ah bless! You actually think that the BNP will ever have the power to even dictate who stays and goes.

One moment your saying practising Muslims will be thrown out, the next your trying to allay fears, saying I have nothing to worry about from you lot - TOO right I have nothing to worry about, you deluded fool-remind me again of how many MP's you have?

I did not realise you were a master theologian and scholar of Islam, thanks for pointing out to me that I and all my family are barbaric and backward!

brooneyes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Barnes said...


Don't let Paul Breeze con anybody into thinking he is just a concerned resident. He's an ex-deputy Elected Mayor, and a councillor who lost an election in his own area. (All deputy elected mayors have lost their next election!).

So far the Elected Mayor system has closed over half of all elderly care homes. It has led to the council, for the first time in its history having government intervention in Childrens Services - effectively paying a private company to close decent schools - when we had already agreed (and had government agreement) on other proposals.

It tried to close Dimensions - but failed due to campaigners and a few brave councillors.

We had the ice rink farce that cost £150,000. We've had the gravestones heartache where thousands of headstones were knocked down only for the council having to compensate them.

Now EM wants to close our community centres to save money.

You know what I find odd? 5 months ago the Elected Mayor wanted to close Dimensions tosave £60,000. Yet when we recently lost £5m in that Icelandic bank, council comment was, it doesn't impact on services????!!!!

Elected Mayors are more open are they? Well tell me why the cabinet have a private meeting the week before the open one with exactly the same agenda? How open and democractic is that?

Finally it has led to having 9 BNP fascists on the council, with a good possibility of having a BNP Mayor next May. If we still have a Mayor system on 24 Oct, my advice will be: get yer coat, yer bag, yer hat and yer loved ones, and get as far away from Stoke as possible, as it could be burning next summer if the BNP have their way.

nita said...

To be honest, I have not yet made my mind up, on what system I feel is right for the City.

Like many other's, I keep changing my mind.

If we choose Leader and Cabinet, we have to trust the Councillors, to put the right person in charge.

If we choose, Mayor and Cabinet, at least we have the choice. However, what if we tick the NO box, and then we don't really like what any of the candidates has to offer.

I personally, believe that under the current Mayoral System, our Councillors have not been able to represent the people that elected them.

Yes, they can currently debate issues, in various Scrutiny Committee's, but once their recommendations are made, and passed onto the EMB, this is where, their opinions no longer count.

The bloggers of PitsnPots have been debating this, amongst ourselves, and many have said, if we choose the Mayoral System, we may as well get rid of the Councillors.

Having read Mike Barnes comments, I am tending to sway towards the Leader and Cabinet.