Tuesday, 7 December 2010

In which I discover that I'm a "champion"

I am to be a champion, it seems. In a taster for the imminent Localism Bill, Grant Shapps:

...outlined how radical new legislation will make councillors more powerful than ever before and help them become local champions.

However, experienced, time-served local Councillors aren’t good enough for Grant. He’s launching a new scheme:

Mr Shapps launched a new talent show called 'Your Community Needs You' - a search for community champions, people with the X Factor who have a track record of getting things done in their area. He is encouraging them to put their names on the ballot papers for next year's local elections.

He today kicked off this search for local stars by encouraging 'school gate mums and dads' - people with energy and passion, people who know what needs doing and are used to going out and doing it - to bring their skills and experience to bear and consider standing for election.

So let’s get clear here Grant. You, a Conservative MP, want a ‘school gate mum or dad’ to stand for election against me, a Conservative Councillor seeking re-election? That’s fine so long as you don’t mind me trawling round Welwyn Hatfield looking for the same to stand against you!

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of encouraging people to stand for council is a good thing. We – you know Grant, existing local councillors and local activists – do it all the time, it’s how a lot of people become Councillors. But running talent contests to get people to stand next May – when the Party you’re a member of has already (at least we have in Bradford) selected and adopted good, hard-working candidates for next year’s elections – is verging on an insult.

And finally, I’m not a champion, I’m not a community leader…I’m a representative like you. And mostly my job is to get up the nose of officialdom – to shout, scream and bawl on behalf of Bingley Rural folk. To know where to kick the great pudding of bureaucracy in order to get something done. That’s my job – and I try to be good at it.

And I don’t want tyro ministers who’ve never been councillors to start telling me my job.


No comments: