At the Annual Council Meeting on 26 May, newly elected unaffiliated councillor, Paul Breeze nominated himself for the role of council leader against Councillor Mohammed Pervez.
Paul has sent Pits n Pots the text of his speech for us to publish and comment on.
It took a hell of a lot of courage for me to stand up totally alone in that chamber and deliver this speech. I knew the risk I was taking to my own morale, confidence and credibility, but I am proud that I did it.
I think that the many points I raised (who do we blame for the state of our country and our city; are we one city or a federation of towns; are Labour more interested in their political party or our city; is Mr Pervez the right man to take us forward?) are significant for the future of out city and worthy of serious discussion.
Thank you, Lord Mayor.
I’m not naÃƒ¯ve, stupid or mad. This is no gimmick. I’m absolutely serious in nominating myself for Leader of the City Council for good, rational, practical reasons.
But we all know what’s going to happen at the end of this.
But that’s not going to stop me putting my case.
Labour have a majority in this council, 34 out of 44.
Even if my friend Cllr Dave Conway thinks One Man and God make a majority. Unfortunately, for me, an Atheist, one man and an imaginary friend don’t make a majority. Even with his 6 colleagues and their imaginary friends that would make Cllr Conway and 12 disciples. It won’t do it.
And even if the Conservatives included their imaginary friends “¦
“They’d only score from a call in.”
So Labour have a majority in this chamber.
But they DON’T have a majority OUT THERE. Not across the streets, the neighbourhoods and all the wards we’re privileged to represent.
The MAJORITY did NOT vote Labour. Labour should bear that in mind every single second, with respect and humility.
But already I’m disappointed by the tone set by Labour.
I regard Cllr Pervez as a friend, Mark Meredith, Paul Shotton, Tom Reynolds and many others. I’ve worked closely with them. But that friendship does not preclude severe criticism.
Their disingenuousness in certain areas does not impress.
44 councillors: All equally elected through the same process. Yet you’d think there were only 10 councillors of importance.
Labour have a massive opportunity to rise in graciousness and include ALL sections of council members. They were part of a Coalition last year working well. Now they have chosen to disregard the rest. They have the ten most talented people in the council? NO. They’ve chosen out of 34 not 44.
Also, Labour apportions NO BLAME to themselves for the state of the city or the country. They blame the Tory-LibDem coalition for everything, locally, nationally, past and present. Is that what we can expect now?
Have they forgotten? Up to twelve months ago we had 13 YEARS OF A LABOUR GOVERNMENT with a MASSIVE majority; THREE Labour MPs in Stoke-on-Trent since time immemorial, DECADES of Labour council complacency and wasteful spending. Thirteen years. 3 local Labour MPs, a Labour government in power, a brilliant opportunity: Stoke-on-Trent a special case. They FAILED – with their OWN government.
And now Labour plea “Ëœspecial case’ to the national ConservativeLibDem coalition whilst blaming them for everything in creation. Do they seriously believe that is going to wash with this government? It doesn’t even wash with the majority of people in this city, never mind anywhere else.
So, I’m putting myself forward to balance things up, reflect the real diversity across our city; make a realistic case for progress WITHIN this council, FOR this city and TO this government.
My cabinet would comprise:
* ONE member of the Independent group, of their choice
* ONE Conservative: Jack Brereton, 19 years old, our youngest ever city councillor, to become our youngest ever cabinet member. Ability, courage and maturity beyond his years, with all the support he needed. Imagine the signal that would send to aspiring young people across our city and beyond.
* ALL the other cabinet posts to Labour, of their choice.
* For a deputy, I would accept WHOEVER Labour chose from amongst themselves.
We would be a WIN-WIN situation city council, taking a radically different INCLUSIVE approach to address the REAL NEEDS of OUR CITY.
This Government would absolutely sit up and take notice. No longer: short-sighted, narrow-minded, mean-spirited, backward-looking, basket-case back to same old Labour. We would absolutely get attention from Westminster.
So I ask Labour members: What comes first ““ OUR city, or THEIR party?
If I was Leader, I’d lead with ONE VISION and STICK TO IT
That ONE VISION would be “¦
* FAR-SIGHTED ““ create ONE CITY. Not a federation of towns spread so thin hardly anyone benefits. Concentrate on ONE IDENTIFIABLE CITY CENTRE. That does not mean losing our heritage, but encompassing it.
* BROAD-MINDED ““ listen to all progressive views and ideas, from wherever they come, inside or outside the council, whatever political or non-political source.
* GENEROUS-SPIRITED ““ engaging all elected members and all communities; but totally rejecting any attempt to undermine progress without credible alternative
* FORWARD-LOOKING – pits, mass pottery production, Iron and Steel – Gone. “ËœGood old days’, miners’ strike, save our steel, bad old Margaret Thatcher, pointless; GONE. A NEW ERA: Our heritage won’t die. It’s here forever. But we MOVE FORWARD. Concentrate on the FUTURE
* COURAGEOUS ““ face economic challenge HEAD ON, determined, compassionate, but with UTTER REALISM. Face residents, and TELL THE TRUTH. We can’t be all things to all people. We have SEVERE CHOICES. You want this, you lose that. You want money into this, gets taken out of that. We’re all in this together. And in the spirit of equity, I would suggest all council officers above £80,000 a year ““ a massive salary by anyone’s standards – volunteer to take a 10% pay cut. And our residents would see their own austerity shared by those far better off.
But we know what’s going to happen ““ unless a miracle occurs. But I ask every councillor to consider what I’m saying, and vote as an individual; not blind loyalty to a party or group.
I want OUR CITY to SHINE. SHINE as a true, lean, modern beacon of efficiency, fairness, inclusiveness, innovation, and progress. Get through these dire times with HOPE and EXPECTATION.
Let that shining light lead to attracting POSITIVE ATTENTION from GOVERNMENT, bringing employers, businesses, jobs, students, visitors, creativity, aspiration, and inspiration.
Let that light SHINE SO BRIGHT that not just Staffordshire, the Midlands, and Westminster see it, but the WHOLE of the United Kingdom, Europe and the WORLD.
Say it LOUD AND PROUD – STOKE-ON-TRENT, OUR CITY
We have the POTENTIAL; TRULY TALENTED PEOPLE; the NEXT GENERATION coming up. We have the OPPORTUNITY. With the WILL, we can GET IT RIGHT. 4 years to turn things round; It’s OUR CHANCE.
Let’s enter this NEW ERA with a RADICAL NEW OUTLOOK.
FORGET PARTY POLITICS
LET OUR CITY SHINE.
Let it SHINE BRIGHTER than it has EVER SHONE BEFORE.
Lord Mayor, I’m nominating myself for Leader of this City Council.