Why do we get the wrong politicians? What do Councillors actually do for their £11,693 a year up to £43,763 a year allowance? Are the 45 Councillors worth £904,552 a year in total?
This weekend Labour Party members are picking Councillor candidates for next Mays local elections for the island wards. So this post is really aimed at them and Liberal Democrats who I think are also in the middle of selections.
Last weekend the Labour Party selections took place for Limehouse ward and as a result Cllr James King was not selected and Mile End Cllr Asma Islam was also not selected (David Edgar & Puru Miah had already decided to stand down)
The removal of James and Asma as candidates was a surprise.
The Conservatives and Aspire parties have already picked most of their candidates
Fergus Collie is also looking for running mates I believe :)
In Tower Hamlets where the Labour Party is the biggest party and therefore thanks to First Past the Post most likely to win the most Councillor positions (42 out of 45 in May 2018 with less than 50% of the vote!) internal selections are often the most important elections.
Why do we have Councillors at all?
In May the majority of voters chose to keep the Executive Mayor system where all of the power and responsibility lies with one person, currently Mayor John Biggs.
So if the Mayor has all of the power, why do you need 45 Councillors?
You may be told you need to elect Labour Councillors to have a Labour Mayor, that would be a lie, two different jobs with two different election processes.
The main role for all Councillors is:
Too many Councillors cannot / won’t do all three aspects of this job, some do none. Some are lazy and some are worth every penny.
But you elected them, so you as residents have to take responsibility for this as well.
Around ten Councillors get co-opted by the Mayor as Deputy Mayors and Cabinet Members, and get paid extra as a result earning between £43,763 a year for a Deputy Mayor and £33,085 a year as a full Cabinet member. The Mayor can give them some of his power if he chooses to. Most work hard but there is nothing in the public domain that details the amount of work they do.
But for the rest their main role should be to scrutinise the Mayor.
A few Labour Councillors do this extremely well, most don’t. Most seem to think that to criticise the Council is to criticise the Labour Party.
I believe Boris Johnson has made a number of errors, one reason why he has done so is a lack of effective opposition, although I think Keir Starmer is turning that that around. But in a democracy a weak opposition is not good.
Given that there were only 3 opposition Councillors after May 2018, now 5 thanks to two by-elections, Labour Councillors need to do more of this job.
Will the people you select be able and willing to do this scrutiny role?
What do we Councillors do?
With the exception of a few Councillors, I do not know what most of them do (because they are so invisible not because I do not think they do the work). But as an example in the last 48 hours I have:
You need to elect / select people who can do this range of activities and more.
If you don’t that puts more pressure on the Councillors who are able to do all of the above, the larger the number of effective Councillors the better off you will be.
In a democracy fundamentally the quality of government ultimately rests with the people