By Tim Montgomerie
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David Cameron goes to Bristol today to encourage the city to vote for a directly-elected mayor. Conservative HQ have realeased two early extracts from his speech:
"Britain stands on the brink of exciting democratic change. Just over a week from now the polling stations will go up, the voters will come out, and our biggest cities will vote yes or no to having their own Mayor. Let's be clear what this moment means. It's not some trivial re-structure or fiddling about. It's about more investment across our country. More jobs for our workers. More life in our political system. It's a once-in-a-generation chance to change the way our country is run. I passionately want those cities – from Bristol to Birmingham, Nottingham to Newcastle, Sheffield to Wakefield, to give a resounding, emphatic 'yes' next week."
He will continue:
"So my message to voters is simple: don't miss out. This is it. One moment. One chance. One day when you can change the course of your city. You can see that place you live in stagnate or reach for something more. Join the race or fall behind. If you want a powerful figure who loves your city running your city – get out and vote yes. If you want your local champion speaking to the heart of government, banging their fist on the table for Birmingham, or Bristol or Leeds – get out and vote yes. If you want to see your city grow more prominent, more powerful, more prosperous – get out and vote yes. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to change the way we run our country, so seize it, vote for it, go for it."
Last week the FT warned that as few as three cities will vote "yes" to mayors – "Birmingham and maybe Leeds and Bristol":
"In all the other cities apart from Bristol, however, Labour’s local groups are actively opposing the idea. And while nationally the Tories are in favour, most local Conservatives are “agnostic” and the party will not select candidates until after the referendums."
Greg Clark, the minister for cities, remains optimistic, however. He told the FT's Kiran Stacey that he "wants mayors to have more powers over transport and talks of letting cities keep more of the proceeds from encouraging growth. He even refuses to rule out letting mayors set their own rates of business tax."