Erik Petersen: Who's afraid of a big bad mayor?
THE trouble with me is, if you let me do something like directly elect a mayor, there's no telling what I'd do.
Maybe I'd vote for a BNP candidate. Maybe I'd vote for the Brian Clough statue. Maybe I'd vote for an aubergine or a particularly intelligent-looking dolphin.
And obviously, you lot would be no better.
Directly elect a mayor? We'd just have one big mass freak-out. It'd all be too much.
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As you already know, unless you've just jetted in from under a rock on the Kazakh steppe, Nottingham and a handful of other British cities vote on Thursday on whether or not to have a directly-elected mayor.
That's as opposed to the current system, where the party that controls the city council gets the leadership. Our current not-exactly-mayor is Jon Collins. Maybe you've heard of him.
Council leader Collins' Twitter feed has recently become something of an anti-mayor greatest hits album.
One of my favourites was this gem: "Why vote no to £1m extra mayor? Because the BNP and EDL back it – they think it gives them a chance of taking control in Nottingham."
That's also the gist of a leaflet circulated by the Nottingham Labour Group in parts of the city with large Asian populations.
People such as Joginder Singh, who runs the Nottingham Teaching College, didn't think much of the leaflet or the people who put it out.
"It seems to me they must think Asian voters are stupid with no brains," he told the Post.
Well Joginder, not just Asian voters. Mr Collins seems genuinely concerned that, given the chance, the wider Nottingham populace might go BNP.
Gee Nottingham voters, it must be nice to know your council leader thinks so highly of you.
This creates a real bind for somebody like me. I'm left of centre – which, as any Nottingham city voting records will attest, puts me in a majority in my city.
Broadly speaking, I want left-of-centre governance for Nottingham.
You only have to look across the river to County Hall, where the Tories are in charge and County Council leader Kay Cutts seems to be doing all she can to win that coveted Lifetime Achievement Award for Literally Appropriate Surnames, to get a taste of what else is on offer out there.
And this city government has a CV it can be genuinely proud of when it comes to the sorts of boots-on-the-ground community projects that happen when you have lots of committed councillors who understand the good that government can play in citizens' lives.
The city has also on occasion pulled off big, blue-sky projects. The one that springs most readily to mind runs on tracks from Hucknall and Phoenix Park to the station. Yes council, you got us a tram. Well done.
But you also need to get us more high-end business people to ride that tram.
You need to get us investment. You need to get us an ambitious, joined-up plan for tourism. You need the sorts of things that can be realised through a charismatic general, not just lots of hard-working soldiers.
When we're out there competing against other cities and regions we need big ideas and big leaders, not a roomful of policy wonks who think you're really going to love this PowerPoint presentation on the 30-year transport plan.
In a way, Nottingham Labour leadership's "no mayor" campaign has been a perfect illustration of why Nottingham needs a mayor.
There's been no big vision, no optimism, no "hey, who needs a mayor when we've got all these exciting plans already". Instead, there's been shrill scaremongering.
We deserve better.
Nottingham is effectively a one-party city. That can be a problem, even if it is the one party most Nottingham people want. It creates stagnation. It stifles creativity.
And yet, we in this liberal city don't want illiberal governance.
Nottingham voters ought to have a way to express disapproval of the current city leadership without bringing in one that most of us would loathe even more.
With a directly-elected mayor, we get that.
Does a directly-elected mayor fix everything? Of course not. It's no magic bullet. Most improvements aren't.
It's just one piece of the puzzle, and a step towards more choice for Nottingham's citizens about how Nottingham is run.