One effect of the Tory assault on Sheffield has been to encourage those with little or no regard for democracy to raise their disreputable flag. This anti-democratic turn usually takes the form of a generalised disparagement of politics and politicians. Such disparagement can be seen on a regular basis in the Star, often with business people in the vanguard.
The piece by John Leigh headlined ‘Let’s put politics to one side’, (Star Two: February 8), was a notable example of this trend. There are many aspects of life where politics can be safely sidelined, but the economic activity that enables a complex society to function isn’t one of them. Had generations of democrats before us not treated similar advice with the contempt it deserves, we might still be sending children up chimneys and down mines.
In a mixed economy, especially one skewed towards the private sector, it’s incumbent on politicians to work with anyone who might contribute to the prosperity of the wider community. Sheffield’s politicians seem to be doing a fair job of meeting that responsibility. It can’t be easy, though, to work with people who do little to hide their distaste for the process or their low opinion of you and your colleagues, seemingly for no better reason than your unwillingness to allow the needs of business a free pass.
The ‘pre-ordained agendas and aims’ scorned by John Leigh are what the people who stand for election and those who vote for them call manifestos.
Mr Leigh calls for the choice of mayor to be limited to a ‘captain of industry’, (a ‘great’ one, no less). He or she will work with politicians, (thank goodness), but ‘have the final say’. This is because someone whose chief purpose is to make their company profitable is also the person most able ‘to make decisions purely in the best interests of the region and its population.’ It’s enough to make you want to sing the Hallelujah chorus.
Rule by a captain of industry would be no less undemocratic than rule by a captain of the Yorkshire Regiment, (and less effective, probably). John Leigh should show some solidarity with Sheffield’s elected representatives in their struggle to maintain the fabric of civilized life in the face of Tory vandalism.
He could begin by lending his weight to the Star’s email campaign against the cuts. He says he’s a proud Sheffielder.
Let him do what no business person to my knowledge has done – raise his voice against the wrongs that are being done to our city by this government of spiteful asset-strippers.