The one thing we now know about the outcome of the election on 2 May is that the first North of Tyne mayor will be a white middle aged man.
I share the disappointment many people have expressed about the lack of diversity in this election.
I’ve previously welcomed Labour’s adoption of all women shortlists to select candidates. It's a shame other parties haven't followed suit and Labour themselves didn’t do so in the North of Tyne, or indeed in Manchester or Liverpool. It's another way in which our political parties seem to be going backwards.
There’s nothing I can do about my own independent candidacy, I am who I am, but I can campaign for change and as mayor I can commit to deliver it. Next week I’ll be swapping ideas with the founder of 50:50 Future who is campaigning to establish gender equality in the workplace. However this isn’t just a gender issue, it’s a wider one and it goes to the heart of the commitments I have made on opportunity.
If I’m elected, I will establish a Mayoral Commission on Opportunity. Its remit will be to explore all aspects of diversity, equality, social mobility and mental health. Its purpose will be to smash the glass ceiling, clean up that sticky floor and break every other barrier to people achieving their full potential. The commission will look like the region we represent. It will provide a platform to people who have contributions to make but might not otherwise have had the opportunity to make them.
And this is where I need your help. The election campaign is hotting up but if I win, I want to hit the ground running on this. If you have something to contribute on these issues, please register your interest via the ‘contact’ button at the top of this website. If I’m elected, I’ll contact you soon after the election to begin the process of setting up this commission. We don’t need to wait any longer to get started on this.
Our region is full of extraordinary people and this is their time to shine, whoever they are.
Thanks for getting involved.