It’s a No to Birmingham Mayor but Yes to a Young/Youth Mayor Commission
Just a few short hours ago the results of the Birmingham Mayoral referendum were announced: 58% voted no, 42% voted yes.
When I saw the Birmingham Mayoral referendum results I was a bit disappointed. At first it was because I was a Yes voter and I really felt that a great opportunity had been missed by the city. But I was ready to doff my cap to democracy, accept the opinions of the masses outweigh my own and move on. Until I saw the voter turnout: 29%.
This referendum represented the single biggest potential change to the way the city is run for decades and 71% of the population weren’t sufficiently interested enough to vote, or even spoil their ballots. Over the centuries countless men and women have laid down their lives for the right to vote. Democracy is an incredible thing but when less than a third of the population are voting it’s a sign that something is wrong and that something desperately needs to be done to get the public engaging in politics again. This is one great big reason why we believe we need a Young Mayor system in Birmingham.
Properly supported and properly teamed with education on what local politics consists of (a dull grey area for most people I know, even those who are interested in politics) a Young Mayor represents a fantastic way to get young people caring again and carry on that engagement into adult life, something this figure shows we desperately need.
One excellent thing has emerged from the aftermath of the local election and referendum results though: the announcement of a council funded commission into a Young/Youth Mayor*. When we started talking about this campaign a couple of months ago hardly anyone in Birmingham knew what a Young Mayor was so it’s great to hear that the idea is taking hold. We really want a properly supported Young Mayor scheme to happen and now we’re not going to have an elected mayor and it’ll be the council’s decision, this commission could be a great way to get them talking about it.
Now to return to the issue of voter turnout; an individual’s right to vote used to be something that people fought passionately to be able to do, now most of us won’t cross the road to use it. Let’s get things moving again. Spread the word: Yes to a Birmingham Young Mayor.
*To clarify the semantic quibble, some existing systems are called Youth Mayors (e.g. in Cheshire East, Ealing, Mansfield), some Young Mayors (e.g. Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets) because the strongest models, such as Lewisham’s, are called Young Mayors we decided to do away with the ‘/Youth’ and stick with ‘Yes to a Birmingham Young Mayor’…it’s also much catchier than the ‘Young/Youth’ alternative! Call it what you will though, if it’s a properly supported and implemented system, we want it.