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Are you ready for no-choice referendum?

THURSDAY, 6th May is the date on which elections for the positions of London Mayor and Members of the Greater London Assembly will be held – one year after they were due to take place and postponed by the Covid Lockdown.

They may have to be postponed again, but so far the relevant authorities are preparing for the vote to go ahead.  The relevant Ministers announced in the House of Commons on 13th January that the elections would go ahead. On 25th January, officers from London Councils met GLA officials to discuss arrangements.  It seems that the details of how polling day will run have yet to be worked out, but the hope is that it will closely resemble a traditional election, with voters able to cast their vote in person, at their local polling station.

Unless another Covid Lockdown intervenes, it seems that the elections will go ahead – and in Tower Hamlets there will also be a referendum on whether the Council should continue to have a Directly Elected Mayor or whether it should change its structure (again) and be headed up by an Indirectly Elected Leader and a Cabinet.

Tower Hamlets Council agreed to hold this referendum at its (virtual) meeting on 18th November 2020.

Since the Council decision, very little has been heard about the reasons why voters should have a vote – or what they are voting on. In neighbouring Newham, Directly Elected Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz made a campaign promise to hold a referendum on the Council structure – and kept it.  Officials have spent months asking people what they think and formulating questions for a referendum which is due to take place on the same day as the one in Tower Hamlets.  In Tower Hamlets, the Council put out a press release after the Council meeting, announcing when the ballot will take place and what the question on the ballot paper will be.

At the November Tower Hamlets Council meeting, a gaggle of Labour councillors stood up to speak (or, as we say these days, “unmuted themselves”) to explain why the referendum should be on continuing with a Directly Elected Mayor or adopting the “Leader plus Cabinet” model.  Almost to a person, they claimed the “Leader plus Cabinet” model was a more democratic system than the “Directly Elected Mayor” system.  As the public gallery (or, as we say these days, the “Zoom audience”) was muted, one had to imagine what the watching public thought.  Comments probably included suggestions that the other one had bells on.

For more information about elections in your area, whether you qualify to vote and to cast your vote, go to:
The Electoral Commission

To read the Statement on the May 2021 elections which the Minister for the Cabinet Office made to the House of Commons on 13th January, go to:

●Read more about the Biggs Administration:
Executive Mayor John Biggs

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