Mike Fox, former councillor for Roundhay and Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds, encourages Christians to engage with local politics and this year’s General Election.
Mike has worshipped at St George’s Church with his wife, Lynne, for nearly 40 years. He took early retirement as Principal Careers Officer for Wakefield Council and was elected as a Councillor for the Roundhay Ward. He was then appointed Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds and is now Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire.
He says, “As a former councillor, it is a source of frustration that so many people seem to take little interest in what their local council is doing on their behalf. Turnout in Leeds electoral wards is, on average, 30-40%. Those who do turn out tend to vote mainly according to national trends or long-held political beliefs. But as these turnout figures reveal, too many people feel their vote is irrelevant and they believe their vote cannot really make a difference.
“That belief is the most tragic thing that can happen in a democracy. By not voting all those who take this option surrender their right to influence the direction of the State and their towns and cities and how they are governed. As in the 1930s, States and organisations are now appearing which have nothing but contempt for democracy – not voting gives a degree of credence to their views.
“On one of the buses I travelled on recently was a sign that read ‘use it or lose it’. That is the basis of my appeal to all church members to vote – so hard gained, so easy to lose.
“St George’s mission statement is 'sharing life and loving Leeds'. I want this to be more than a slogan and actively voting would demonstrate that the church and its members are not passive but very active in having a say in how the country and councils are governed. It will also demonstrate the hollowness of parts of the media who put forward the belief that the church should confine itself to saving souls and not get involved in politics.
“The big issue now facing Leeds if whether the city should be run by an elected mayor and possibly gain more devolved power. I feel it will still be an issue at some stage irrespective of which party is elected. This will mean a profound change in how our city is governed. Which way we go depends on you.”
Adapted from: stgeorgesleeds.org.uk/life