“You can’t win anything with kids” Alan Hansen, the Liverpool footballer, famously said. He was proved wrong by the young players of Manchester United and in College ward he could be proved wrong again on 3 May.
The Labour candidate is Freddie Bailey who is about to turn 22. He spoke recently to WIPCUT and agreed that the conversation could be publicised.
Usually, a candidate’s election material gives some information about the candidate’s background and suitability for the role of a councillor. There is none in Freddie’s election material but he told WIPCUT that after leaving school he joined Lancashire County Council and currently works in Adult Social Care.
The Conservative candidate is Paul Balshaw. His election material gives information about his background and life. WIPCUT came upon him whilst he was out canvassing – no better time to test a candidate’s credentials.
When one is interviewed for a job with a company one prudently looks up information about that company. The candidate is expected to be able to demonstrate knowledge about the company and the role for which he or she is being considered.
The same applies to local politics. What do these candidates know about Preston Council – what interest have they taken in the running of the Council? Do they know who the senior officers are, have they experienced a committee meeting, have they observed the Cabinet in session? Committee meetings (including Cabinet meetings) are, after all, open to the public so one would expect candidates to know something about the Council they hope to join. Such knowledge would undoubtedly make them better able to serve the residents of College ward.
WIPCUT asked these two candidates the same four questions:
- What is the name of the Chief Executive?
- What are the names of the heads of the four Directorates?
- Have you attended a committee meeting?
- Have you attended a Cabinet meeting?
Freddie failed to identify the Chief Executive or the heads of the four Directorates. He has never attended a committee or Cabinet meeting.
Paul, after some hesitation, could identify the Chief Executive but not the heads of the Directorates. He said he had attended a Council meeting [ie the full Council] but that was some time ago. He had not attended a committee meeting or a Cabinet meeting.
Both said that they would do so if they were elected. And so they will – it will be part of their role. But shouldn’t they know more now in order to demonstrate their suitability for the role?
Even Freddie’s supporters think so. On 14 April Freddie tweeted “Out all day in Preston door knocking with the team.” The following day Councillor Peter Moss tweeted “One of 3 teams out in College Ward for [Freddie]. This one a bit more experienced.” Quite.
WIPCUT also thinks so. WIPCUT attends committee meetings. Its members engage with the Council’s officers.
How can anyone ignorant of the Council be considered fit to be to elected?
But on 3 May 2018 Alan Hansen was proved wrong again – Freddie was elected with a comfortable majority.