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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The introduction of new legislation has given the Council the opportunity to take a fresh look at the way it is governed - and for you to comment on the proposals. Two forms of council leadership are being considered.

All local councils in the country are required to review their executive decision-making arrangements in time for the next local elections, which is may 2010.

You have 2 choices;

The Leader would be responsible for all executive functions, and would decide which of these functions were going to be delegated to other Cabinet members, local committees or council officers. The Cabinet would be selected by the Leader and not by the whole Council as at present.

Another change to the current arrangements is that the Leader would be selected by elected Councillors for a period of four years at the first meeting of the Council after the borough's public elections.

Under the elected Mayor option, people in Haringey would vote for a Mayor who would hold office for a period of four years. Once elected the Mayor would be responsible for all executive functions and would decide which of these functions were going to be delegated to other Cabinet members, local committees or council officers. The Mayor would select a Cabinet.

Put your preference at the council's survey.

The survey closes on 10 July 2009.

Tags for Forum Posts: Council Leadership

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I have long ago realised that just because people don't engage in the sometimes bruising discussions on here, it doesn't mean that they don't have an opinion and I personally would never assume that they don't give a damn.

People may not respond for any number of reasons, not least that much of what they believe has already been expressed by others or that they are not ready to engage in open debate about things which they have not had time to consider.

Personally? I am wary of the idea of an elected Mayor lest we end up with protest vote Mayors who have little idea what to do in office but, under a leader system, I would want the leader to have to choose from all cllrs not just those from their own party which does not appear to be an option.

As I have said elsewhere, I personally would like to see the Party machine removed from local government altogether. People who are good cllrs but bad party people end up being ousted or disillusioned by the pettiness of local 'politics'.
Oh dear, excellent link Liz! Well then, time we were offered better choices than just the current two.

PR for one;

I too think PR would be better than the choices we are being offered. In the Newspeak most politicians now seem to use Consultation = an unpalatable choice between options which suit the politicians well, but probably not anyone else. In this case between a consolidation of the awful cabinet system (which we will probably get) or yet another council official to support from our taxes.
Is that poxy little survey on the LBH website the extent of the "consultation" in this case?
A benign dictatorship would be better yet, surely there must be an aptitude test to pick out someone suitable.

I have a lot of sympathy for the Mayor on youtube - he wants to do certain things and avery great many people agree with him that he should try and do thoise things - that sounds like democracy. If the interviewer is right (and he might not be - I don't spontaneously trust journalists) then the laws which prevent the mayor doing things the electorate want him to are bad laws.
Perhaps, but you should not write a manifesto without checking the laws first to make sure what you have pledged to do can actually be done, if you are serious about being a good Mayor.
He may have a point about translation services for example but it seems to me that he wrote his manifesto by cutting and pasting comments from BBC Have Your Say. If I am to elect a mayor, I want one that has a brain. Whatever I may think of BoJo's politics, I cannot deny he is an intelligent person who understands why he is there.

Although I believe the man in the monkey suit who won in Hartlepool actually did an okay job in the end....
Liz writes "you should not write a manifesto without checking the laws first to make sure what you have pledged to do can actually be done" with which I think Imust take issue. Where would this leave Che Geuvara, Nelson Mandela, Chairman Mao, Karl Marx, the protesters in Tiananmen Square, the opponents of Ahmedinajad in Iran, the trade union movement, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, Robespierre, Danton, Marat, etc, etc. I think out of your own keyboard you have condemned yourself to join the ranks of those who have given up on the power of the people.
But, Omotn, there's PR and PR. The brand we've once again been subjected to for the Euro poll (The Party List or 'slate') would do nothing for local democracy. Certainly it would do nothing about removing the Party machine from local government. The STV (Single Transferable Vote) - and I think that's what Matt has modelled above - at least has the benefit of educating the electorate into shrewder exercise of their franchise but, while the Party system remains, this shrewdness can be used more to squeeze one or other party to the margins (the Irish have become masterful at this use of the STV!). If a PR system doesn't deliver 'representativeness' of all sorts of minorities, it's neither proportional nor representative.
On the other hand, even with the Party system, the STV can guard against run-away majorities such as Blair's first win. Coalitions may suit some 'cultures' more than others, but any arrangement that forces people and politicians towards consensus (rather than 'winner takes all') can't be bad. Again, the Irish Greens with only three elected TDs (MPs) have held two Cabinet posts throughout the current parliament and held the majority party to a range of greener issues than any larger party would ever touch. It didn't save their skins in the recent Euro-poll as the voters forgot about Europe or 'Greenery' and lambasted them all on the economy!
Re: The Greens in Ireland. Same happened in NZ with MMP.

I'd vote for STV given a chance, it's mathematically a good option too.
I have tried to answer my own question "£Is that poxy little survey on the LBH website the extent of the "consultation" in this case?" and the answer more or less is yes. There has also been a press release, an article in Haringey People and a few leaflets in libraries. This surely is not good enough for a change potentially of this magnitude (obviously the leader option is not much of a change). We the people should man the barricades immediately.
note to haringey

Dear Yuniea.Semambo
I have read your briefing paper on the new form of leadership. I worry that it does not sufficiently engage "Residents" in the consultation. A press release, some leaflets and an apparently unvalidated survey on a web page, which I feel could be easily distorted by multiple responses does not seem sufficient, particularly as you have scheduled for nothing to happen in October and November when interest will be building up nationally with wider press coverage.
Please could you ramp up the interest levels particularly towards the ned of year whne residents will actually be paying attention.
Adrian Essex
That HP promotional article was appalling. It asked 'young' people what they thought of the options and promptly presented 4 in favour of elected by cabinet leader and 1 for a mayor.

Think the council have shown their preference before the survey don't you/we.
"but, under a leader system, I would want the leader to have to choose from all cllrs not just those from their own party which does not appear to be an option."

Hi Liz, as far as I am aware, there is no legal bar on a Leader choosing their cabinet members from another party - the members of the Cabinet are, technically, elected by the whole Council (procedures of the Council here ). So, if the Leader option was agreed, the entire Council would vote on a recommendation from the Leader, and there is no legal or constitutional reason that the Leader couldn't recommend a Cabinet drawn from more than one party.

Obviously, that is extremely unlikely to happen when one party has a majority on the Council; in fact, I don't think there are any examples outside of No Overall Control councils where the Cabinet portfolios are shared between parties - and even in NOC Councils, who gets what will have been sorted out between the coalition partners or within the minority administration before the Council votes.

Personally, I think there are good reasons for, firstly, wanting to keep the party system (that is, where almost all elections are fought between political parties rather than between collections of individuals), and secondly, for a majority party keeping all of the Cabinet portfolios.

The second point is possibly easier to argue for, with the most powerful argument for it being that, if only one party is in charge of the whole executive function of the Council, then it is easier to judge their performance and vote accordingly: if you like it, vote for them, if you didn't, vote for someone else. In coalition executives, the water becomes much muddier: policies which a party campaigned on may not be implemented despite them being part of the executive, because the price of getting a second party onboard was dropping that policy. For example, the Scottish LibDems couldn't get a return to the pre-1997 situation for university students (i.e. that they paid nothing for their university course) in Scotland when they were coalition partners with Labour in Scotland, despite that having been one of their most popular campaign pledges (although in fairness, they did get a different system of post-graduation payment instituted). There are other issues, but that seems to me the clearest.

Of course, it is possible to argue that this is product of the party system, and if you got rid of that, it would all be a lot better. I disagree with that, too, but I would point out that, as a very active Labour Party activist, I am not unaware of the difficulties and frustrations of party politics: sometimes it is incredibly irritating to be within a political party, with the rules and rituals, discipline and disagreements that follow from it, and I would imagine that members of other political parties have felt the same about their own party at one point or another. However, there are a number of things which I think make political parties not just a valuable part of democratic life, but a vital one.

The first is that, almost without exception, where a representative democratic system has been established, some forms of political parties have been established: even in the US, where almost everyone who signed the Declaration of Independence or agreed to the Constitution believed parties were actively evil, found themselves forming them within a decade of establishing the Federal government.

This happens because organised political activity in states with extensive representative systems and large electorates is hard: you need large numbers of people to vote for you (even at our local level in Haringey, local councillors need something between 1200 and 1500 people to vote for them to win a seat), and to get that, you need your message to reach a great many people, and the only way a single candidate can realistically do that is with at least a reasonably sized body of supporters. So, some form of organisation is vital for the representative role of our democracy to function.

As such, the opposite of having parties isn't having nothing, but instead is having lots of much smaller political organisations, springing up around individuals. Some might argue that would be more positive, but I think it is actually deeply problematic: firstly, after any election, you'd have to have endless horse-trading amongst individuals to form any sort of executive, which is much less democratic than electing a party with a clear programme; secondly, it costs a fair amount of money to run a strong campaign, and if politics became orientated around individuals, only those who were either independantly wealthy or could raise significant money from people who could spare it (i.e., not the poor and disadvantaged) would get elected, which would be, for me, a terrible state of affairs. Parties allow a much wider range of people from a more diverse backgrounds to get elected than would the alternative - and, in a spirit of fairness, I would point out that this applies to all parties: John Major was hardly the traditional Tory toff.

Apologies for the lengthy post, but I have been meaning to put up something about the party politics for ages on here - I think it is possible to be strongly critical of party politics, and I think there are many changes parties ought to be putting into place, in both their own structures as well as in how they interact with the wider political process, but - regardless of all that - political parties have a real and useful role to play in democratic politics, and the one change which I think they absolutely should not aim for, is to weaken the accountability that comes from a single party controlling the executive function of whatever body its members of elected too.
It's not fair to call the "horse trading" over the executive endless, it ends and is a valuable part of the democratic process, just like elections (gosh they're a hassle aren't they)? This system works perfectly well in New Zealand where I might point out that Labour is not almost exactly the same as the equivalent of the Conservative party and you can vote Green and have a Green Party member in the cabinet because whoever was in power needed their support. Horse trading indeed!



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