Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Leadership lite

Architect George Ferguson has launched his campaign to become Bristol's first elected mayor.
In a speech at the Tobacco Factory in Southville last night, he told supporters he would stand as an independent candidate campaigning under the banner Bristol First.Although he did not outline policies he would introduce...(full Post story here).

George Ferguson has some strong views and therefore already has policies in mind I'm sure. That he is not putting them forward now is, I suggest, part of his electoral strategy. He is perhaps intending to appear to be all things to all people. If he wants to lead the city then lets see him begin this process by telling us where he stands and what principles or rules will guide his decisions  ie give us some indicative policies and show that there is some substance and weight to his candidacy.

Snippet of the debate I'm involved in on the Post website:

@PJ1979 '" the election is in November, so the policy issue should be parked until Aug/Sept.
Also what is wrong with a focus group"

Hmmm...little indication of any policies at all when you've gone to the trouble of appearing in the media, delivering a speech and launching your candidacy. No - its clear that if he is to lead all of Bristol he should give us a much better indication of what principles and rules will direct his decisions. The thing is that George Ferguson does have policy positions - he is a former Liberal, he's been a councillor, he's contested a general election, he is a director of the think tank Demos, he's been involved in a number of developments...in other words he occupies a distinct political position but is saying little about it. Why? Well, I assume its the political tactic he's chosen to use.

As for focus groups - they are a selection of group members. They may exclude some members of the community and not be representative. They require proper facilitation and serving - and can be time consuming. There are quite a few ways in which they can be manipulated to get the outcome favoured all along, or at least to get an outcome that is not hostile - surely the decade of Blair/Brown government taught us that. I'm not opposed to consultation but it has to be genuine.

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