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2nd May 2024

Ben goes to…. The Greater Manchester Mayoral hustings

Ben shares his experience at the My Vote My Voice Accessible Hustings held ahead of the 2024 Manchester local elections.

These are Ben’s own views and do not represent the views of My Vote My Voice.

I was invited to attend the event and take some photos, so I went along and listened to 4 candidates pitch to become Greater Manchester Mayor.

As Greater Manchester celebrated its 50th birthday recently; a milestone which seems to have passed un-noticed apart from a few at the hustings, I think some questions were answered better than others, but I wish that politicians would say how they are going to do something, rather than just mention something like ‘we need to build more homes’. I’m sure we can all agree with that, and it has been said many a time over many a year, but how does that happen, who builds the homes and where are they built? Anne said that building should take place on brownfield sites and not greenbelt, but in reality it costs private developers less to build on the greenbelt, compared to demolishing old buildings, possibly having to treat the land and then flatten it, so maybe the answer needed to be that the GMCA will seek greater powers and more devolution from central government, who in my opinion, have far too much centralised power, which needs to be shared more evenly across every county and every nation across the UK. For example, with housing, so that in the case of Greater Manchester, the GMCA can see the county as a whole and have the ability to build houses directly or with a public/private partnership, and houses can be of the right type and in the right places, not rely solely on the private sector, who’s primary driver is profit.

There were many questions asked, and all important issues to the questioners. I wish there’d been more time, more questions, better answers, even bringing Brexit into the debate as it affects Greater Manchester, and the recent UN report into the poor way in which the UK Government is treating disabled people, but the time was very finite and it was good that a hustings like this happened, which gave disabled people a voice and the opportunity to ask questions.

Despite my imposter syndrome; I did speak to two of the candidates, firstly Andy Burnham, and I did mention that the buses had improved since coming under control of The Bee Network, but there is room for improvement. I also mentioned my disappointment at Labour party members voting to change the voting system from first past the post to proportional representation, but the Labour leadership rejecting it. Andy did say that he was in favour of PR, so hopefully he may have some influence on the national Labour party. I also spoke to Hannah Spencer and I said I agreed with her on wanting to introduce a universal basic income and that we need to replace first past the post with proportional representation. The hustings gave me a better idea of how I was going to vote.

Image and blog by Ben Stone