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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 March 2012

Thanks, but no thanks!

Coventry council's Labour leader John Mutton invited Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist to become the city's deputy Lord Mayor in May, which would normally lead on to the position of Lord Mayor in 2013. In this letter Dave explains why he said: "Thanks but no thanks."

Dear John,

I have taken soundings from a number of local people, and other Socialist Party supporters, and I don't feel, at this time, able to accept.

I appreciate the honour of the ceremonial role and the greater contact over two years, with people young and old, in the city. I would enjoy mayoral visits to everyone from schools to care homes, celebrating with local people. I would take seriously being the voice of sympathy for the city in commiserating with those who have suffered loss.

Some of your colleagues urged me to accept, saying I could bring a radical edge... to the job of Lord Mayor. And I have been tempted.

The first thing I thought I could have done, for example, would have been to invite all those in the queue for food parcels on a Sunday morning by the Swanswell to eat at the expense of the Lord Mayor's hospitality budget that day (and pay for it by cancelling all the normal municipal dinners and attendances at other Lord Mayor's dos across the region).

You see, I think we urgently need to review the council's role and responsibility in the matter of dealing with growing austerity, not leave it to the generosity of individuals or of faith organisations.

But... it's the limitations that worry me, and tip the balance. Since Labour changed Coventry council's constitution ten years ago the Lord Mayor is required, when votes in council meetings are tied, to exercise their casting vote for the majority party (which at the moment would require me to support your programme, and could mean me being obliged to vote for cuts).

The terms of the posts of deputy Lord Mayor and Lord Mayor require political neutrality, and would force me (at the moment the only consistent critic in the chamber against the adoption of the government's austerity plan) to be silent for two years whilst those cuts are inflicted. I could not in all conscience do that.

For that overriding reason I have decided to decline your offer to propose me as deputy Lord Mayor for 2012/13 [...] Once again, thank you for the invitation.

Councillor Dave Nellist

PS. The Coventry Telegraph commented: "It is not the first time Councillor Nellist has chosen principle over personal privilege. As an MP he refused to accept more than the average worker's wage - considerably less than the salary to which he was entitled."

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In The Socialist 7 March 2012:

Fighting the government's attacks

On 28 March: Strike back against the Con-Dems

Trade unions must build mass party

NHS: Axe Lansley's bill!

International Women's Day

International Women's Day 2012

Socialist Party International Women's Day schools

Socialist Party youth and students


No cuts, No fees, Bring back EMA

NUS elections - Vote Socialist Students for a fighting student leadership

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Kirklees marches to save child centres

Leeds Tenants Federation opposes Welfare Reform Bill

Become Coventry deputy mayor? Thanks, but no thanks!

Attack on pay defeated at Manchester's NHS Trust

Stop prison guards housing asylum seekers - stop G4S!

Party/campaigns news in brief

Socialist Party workplace news

MMP workers step up action

Unison: Delegates gagged

Anti-blacklisting battle continues on building sites

London election candidate named in employers' blacklist

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

Quebec: Students engage in 'indefinite' general strike action

Spain: Thousands in student protests against education cuts

Revolution through Arab eyes - the Factory

Socialist Party news and analysis

A4e - The inside story

Cops and big business robbers

Them & Us


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