Once this Bank Holiday weekend is done, dusted and filed in the memories box, there will be just two weeks to the Mayoral election. Everyone who is on the electoral roll and who lives in one of the seven metropolitan districts of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall or Wolverhampton will be entitled to vote.
It’s time to consider whether to do so and, if so, who for.
The first question ought to be a no-brainer. This position will emerge to be of huge significance, almost of such significance as the Ken Livingstone / Boris Johnson / Sadiq Kahn Mayoralty in London, not with quite as much executive power, but, nevertheless, of tremendous influence over the whole West Midlands region, including Solihull.
For a start, the post will be have key responsibilities over the region wide transport, housing and economic policy. The Birmingham Mail has published a good digest of the importance of the post.
So, we all ought to get out and make our vote count. There is no local council election this year in Solihull, so all focus can be on the Mayoral choice.
Each of the six candidates has published a statement, they are:
James Burn, Green, http://www.jamesburn.org/
Pete Durnell, UKIP, https://petedurnell.com/
Beverley Neilsen, Lib Dem, http://www.beverleynielsen.co.uk/
Siôn Simon, Labour, http://www.sion-simon.com/
Graham Stevenson, Communist, http://communist-party.org.uk/
Andy Street, Conservative, https://andy4wm.co.uk/About-Andy-Street
An important consideration, that every voter ought to reflect on in advance, is the use of the Supplementary Voting (SV) system. All voters will receive a ballot paper with two columns, for first and second preferences. After the first round of counting if one candidate has over 50% of the ‘first column’ votes they are declared the winner.
If no one has over 50% then the top two candidates go through to a second round of voting. All of the votes cast for anyone apart from the top two candidates will counted again, using their ‘second column’ vote instead. Whoever out of those top two candidates then has the most votes is then declared the winner.
So, if, after the first round, the totals are close, then those ‘second column’ votes could prove very significant.
There is also an issue about deposits. A candidate retains their £5 000 deposit if they secure 5% of the first round of counting. Accordingly, someone who has a preference for a candidate who they believe will not win, should still vote for them as first choice but then add a second preference for a candidate they predict will be in the final race for the line.
So, on May 4th, let’s makes our votes count!