Share the mayor?

ALSO in Westminster, a bit of history to note as the Conservative city council has announced it will elect a Labour mayor for the first time in 50 years in 2019.

Ruth Bush will become the Lord Mayor at the annual mayor-making ceremony next year after the Tories and Labour suspended normal hostilities to reach an amicable agreement about the role.

Conservative council leader Nickie Aiken said: “I recognise that the mayoralty is a civic not a political role, so I feel it’s important the Lord Mayor represents all of Westminster’s residents as part of our commitment to build a city for all. That’s why the Conservative Group has taken this historic decision not to put forward a candidate for the next Lord Mayor and work across the two political parties to further modernise the mayoralty in Westminster.”

Labour group leader Adam Hug, meanwhile, said: “The Labour Group and I warmly welcome this important step forward in the civic life of our city. By taking the role out of partisan politics, now and in the future, we can help ensure that the Lord Mayor becomes a unifying position representing all our communities in Westminster.”

Labour’s willingness to put forward Cllr Bush matches the ready enthusiasm the party had in Camden when the Lib Dem and Conservative coalition administration offered them the mayoralty here in 2008, even though they were then in opposition. Nurul Islam became the mayor.

Such a sharing is caring attitude, or ‘non partisan’ approach to use Cllr Hug’s terms, has not however been adopted by Labour when in power in Camden, either before or after their four years out of office. While there is new popularity for the role inside Camden’s swollen Labour group at the moment, this no-sharing stance included years when there was a hardly a queue of councillors desperate to do the job and Jonathan Simpson was elected for the task in both 2011 and 2013. Ahead of his second go, the opposition broke with the tradition of this being uncontested and put up as the long-serving Lib Dem Flick Rea as an alternative. It was duly voted down by the Labour majority.

The irony around this is that whispers in the north west of the borough suggested earlier this year that Cllr Rea may not have fought her Fortune Green seat at May’s council elections, possibly handing a gain to Labour, if she had been afforded the same generosity. There are members on all sides of the chamber who think, privately of course, she is a natural fit and her long service could be rewarded with a spot of sharing, particularly with the room so loaded with Labour councillors.

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