Middlesbrough Council is a unitary authority with ts post of directly elected Mayor and all the Council seats up for election on May 5. Ray Mallon, an independent is the current mayor – a former police officer well known for his "zero tolerance" policy on crime.
Mallon is the favourite but has been in trouble after a private phone conversation he had to the boss of a mini cab was taped and published in local newspapers. The remarkswere certainly crude, there was lots of swearing, lots of blokeish banter.
But then they were meant as private comments that he thought he was making to a friend. He thought of resigning but has now come out fighting - pointing out, for instance, that he do not say all cabbies were "scumbags" but that some were. He denies being racist despite a reference to their being a particular problem with some of the Asian drivers.
Charged with sexism he responds:
“I said the officer was so straight that if they had sex it would be in one position.
“I realise it was wrong of me to use such an analogy, I would never have used it in a public forum and even though this was a private conversation I accept I should not have used those words or the industrial language in it.
“I have apologised unreservedly to the officer concerned.”
I suppose the remark is not sexist if one could envisage the Mayor making equivalent speculation about a male Council officer having an unimaginative sex life.
It is embarrasing for him but I'm not sure it will lose him that many votes.
The Conservative candidate for Mayor is Lloyd Cole-Nolan a 25-year-old student who is clearly very sound as he includes a quote from Hayek on his website. Lloyd is pledging to make public transport more efficient, reduce red tape and cut his Mayoral salary by 33%.
“Every time I walk into the jobcentre to see my mother, I become more conservative and come out with a refreshed enthusiasm to defend freedom.”