We will all of course be looking with huge interest on the result of the votes by the City Council Labour Group this evening. The expectation is that by 9pm we should know who the new #Brumleader will be.
In the past the level of interest has been high amongst the cognoscenti. But perhaps the rise of social media and the emergence of younger more tech-savvy councillors as well as the use of social media by citizens who are concerned at having their voice heard, has made this election much more relevant.
It is to be hoped that this will be the future mark of transparency in how the city is run. Especially when the whole structure of local and national democracy is under huge threats from corporate globalism run riot within the current Westminster machinery.
There are clearly several reasons for this – the level of interest arising from the Kerslake Report fallout; and the impacts of successive budget cuts – on libraries for example – and; the planned cuts perhaps on children’s centres. This will only be increased when Osborne makes his so-called “Autumn” Budget Statement this Wednesday.
The new #BrumLeader will have to make his/her first major statement on what Osborne’s savagery will mean for our society.
With the increasing clamour for a greater openness by the Council on its accountability and proposals for the break up of the Council, then the manner in which this response is made will count a great deal.
So, it is interesting to note the role which social media and local virtual channels are playing in this, providing platforms for many who feel disconnected, those who have alternatives who offer, and those who have some long standing frustrations!
So the outcry when it was rumoured that the leadership candidates would not be allowed to appear in public to face questions was very much influenced by the immediate role of social media in flagging this up. Whether this was due to a misunderstanding or not, it has reinforced and promoted the role which virtual media should now and must play in the future visioning of Birmingham and indeed the wider conurbation.
So who should be looked out for on this?
Urban Pivot drew attention to this in his blog just the previous week. So it interesting to look at which of the candidates are on twitter now! And in my very simple stats analysis, the candidate who is ahead on followers is Penny Holbrook, and she has also gained the most in the last 10 days up to 1565 with 65 new followers compared with John Clancy at 1145 up by 20, Barry Henley at 687 up by 16 and Ian Ward at 438 up by 16 followers.
See the witter accounts and blogs of the candidates
- John Clancy now has 1145 followers and has a blog
- Barry Henley – now has 687 followers
- Penny Holbrook – now has 1565 followers and has a very recently active blog when she announced her candidacy
- Ian Ward – has 438 followers
It is interesting also that we now have individual councillors using social media to broadcast their allegiances in advance of the vote – Cllr Kerry Jenkins for example – Kerry on the Leaders
And of course we have the roles of @newsinBrum with 11800 followers and @Chamberlainfile with 2500 followers, as a means of casting some illumination on the political and officer mechanisms in the City Council. Chamberlain File also has an active blog, to which some of the candidates have already contributed their polish positions
The Birmingham Improvement Panel will meet in public session on 14th December, and this again will be a key milestone for the new #Brumleader. Social media will have a role in broadcasting what is presented/discussed.
Finally, we must also praise the openness of the Council’s Chief Executive – Mark Rogers in this process. Through twitter and through his blog, he has been open about his concerns and issues from his “lofty” standpoint.
Might we see the new #Brumleader expressing her/his views on the trials and tribulations of having to deal with the Westminster colonial powers? Now that would be something to behold!
I look forward to it.