PROFILE: Tom Baldwin – “There's an alternative to austerity”
Today’s mayoral hopeful being profiled is Tom Baldwin.
Birthplace: Trowbridge, Wiltshire
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Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
How long lived in Bristol: 11 years
Job: Part-time organiser for Socialist Party
Marital status: Living with my girlfriend
Secondary School: John of Gaunt, Trowbridge
University: Bristol University
Have you ever been a member of a political party? If so, which ones (current and past): Member of Socialist Party, one of the organisations that make up the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
City or Rovers fan? I am a football fan but I don't support either of the Bristol clubs.
Odds (Ladbrokes): 200/1
Tom Baldwin is the first to admit that he has little chance of winning this election.
But as far as he is concerned, there are bigger fish to fry.
He is using the election as a platform to hammer home the fact that, in his opinion, there is an alternative to the massive cuts in services and the public sector.
He said: “I want to see a clean break from the politics of austerity which are an attack on ordinary people and which have forced them to pay for a financial crisis which was not of their making.
“That’s the main reason I want people to vote for me - to have someone who stands up to the cuts and draws up a budget which is based on what the city needs and not want the Government is demanding.”
Tom, 29, who lives with his girlfriend in south Bristol and works as a part-time organiser for the Socialist Party, said that Liverpool had stood up to the Government during the 1980s and there was no reason why Bristol should not do the same.
During hustings events in the run up to the election on November 15, it has become clear that there is not much difference in policies between Tom’s views and those of Neil Maggs, the Respect Party candidate.
So why didn’t they join forces to avoid splitting the left-wing votes?
Tom said he wanted to be a voice for trade unions and there was also a feeling that they should distance themselves from the Respect Party’s leader, George Galloway following his controversial comments about rape in August.
He is convinced that he could, from the first day of taking office, reverse the cuts that have already been made and protect services.
He would reverse the council decision to close eight care homes and seven day centres and he would look to find a way to reimburse students for their travel costs - they recently had their £30 weekly allowance axed.
He would appoint a cabinet to help him but they would consist of only Labour and Green councillors - there would be no Tories or Lib Dems to help him make crucial decisions.
He is also comes cheap as far as salary is concerned. Although councillors have voted in favour of the newly-elected mayor receiving £51,000 a year (with a review later), Tom said he would only be prepared to take the same as an average salary which is currently about £25,000, depending on what figures you use.
He is not daunted by the challenge of becoming the city’s first elected leader and relatively little experience of local government.
“I’ve been to a lot of council meetings and it seems to me that most of the councillors haven’t got a clue what is going on themselves,” he said.
Instead of an expensive management structure, Tom would rely more on the experience of staff at the sharp end of delivering services.