In the absence of our president Geoffrey Pointon vice president Derick Horsfall kindly took the chair to host the April luncheon. Derick raised two topics for discussion AV and local council/councillors. These were especially relevant with the pending May 5th elections.
Derick Horsfall discussed the Alternative Vote (AV) and asked the room for their opinion.
David Radford asked ‘why we do not hear David Cameron voicing a loud opinion on AV?’
Anner Fehnert felt ‘it was because of the coalition with the Lib Dems and the agreement with Clegg so he will not voice his own opinion.’
Derick Horsfall agreed and added ‘that he believed the Conservative vote for AV would generally be “no”.’
David Radford concurred adding ‘that he believed Labour supporters would generally vote “no” and Ed Miliband is in favour of a “no” vote.’
Annabelle Meek suggested that the general public may choose to vote ‘yes’ as they feel disenchanted with politics and may see this as an opportunity for change. She added although Australia use AV they also have mandatory voting.
Frank Simms added ‘that in Australia they are now looking at the system as forcing people to vote can mean that they just put a ‘x’ anywhere on the ballot paper as they are not interested in voting.’ Others agreed this was a valid point that if people are forced to vote but are not interested or understand the choices then it is not really a democratic vote.
Anner Fehnert suggested ‘that if AV replaced first past the post then we would see more coalition governments in the future.’
A rough survey of the room showed most present would vote “no” to AV. Brian Smith reminded the room ‘that in addition to the local elections and AV Leicester are also voting for a Mayor.’
Bill Ginns said on the topic of local councils ‘that local councillors have little say but that the executive and advisors to the council have too much power and pay’.
Brian Smith agreed ‘that the average council CEO is really just a secretary to the executive and carries out their requests.’
Derick Horsfall said ‘councillors have jurisdiction on less than 10% of council tax revenue. It is the civil service in Westminster that dictates to local government.’ He admired David Cameron as he felt he was trying to give a degree of responsibility back to local government including deciding upon the remuneration of employees. He felt that this initiative would make them feel more dedicated to the area they serve.
Brian Smith asked ‘if the Mayor of Leicester gets his post for 4 years can they set their terms and conditions?’
Derick Horsfall added ‘that generally he felt elected Mayors were a bad idea although he felt Boris has done a good job to date.’
Brian Smith noted ‘that the Leicester Mayor would have power over all committees and would be guaranteed to be in place for 4 years regardless.’
Derick Horsfall said ‘he felt that the coalition was doing the right things to get the country on an even keel and asked how people felt the local election vote would go?’
David Radford felt ‘that the Lib Dem vote would decrease as voters feel let down by them.’
Tim Whorton agreed.