The Mayoralty of a Great City and the Grassroots Baroness

I write to you from the Stately home of Lord Beaverbrook. Staying here, I am surrounded by portraits of those who stayed here before – Prime Ministers (Churchill, Chamberlain, Macmillan, Lloyd George) to poets (Kipling) and novelists (Ian Fleming). Essentially all those with a part in the greatness of Britain, including newspaper Baron Lord Beaverbrook himself.

We need to make our British cities great. To have the vision and determination of those who have lived in this home from where I write. These coming Mayoral elections are an opportunity to do that. Leicester, where so many of the readers of this paper hail, deserves an international Mayor. One who can bring in the investment from abroad to create the jobs in the City – one with the connections, determination, and know-how to do it. Leicester should be a home of opportunity and job creations the way London is.

I’ve traveled extensively with the then Minister Baroness Verma, and now she is standing for Mayor of Leicester, she has my backing. I’ve seen how a woman from humble beginnings has fought for women in the workplace, elevated them; how around business tables full of men, she has fought for the small business owner. How abroad, worked long hours to fight for investments to create jobs for her City – extolling the virtues of her skilled workforce constituency.

Leicester, who bears a King and a global football team, deserves and needs an international perspective. It needs a Mayor who can in Parliament use her connections to fight for money, for investment from Central Government, because she has a voice and networks there. We cannot afford for our Cities to have parochial, local candidates. It needs working class people who have proven their ability to work to the top and then turn around and help others, with compassion, to do the same.

If a Mayor is a CEO, a Chairperson, I want someone who both as Kipling wrote, ‘can walk with Kings but not lose the common touch’. That is a rare feat. There are many with the common touch, who can only sympathise with you, but not solve the problems of lack of social opportunity, of food banks, low paying, unskilled, unsecure jobs. And there are many who can talk to Kings who cannot relate to the day to day struggles of putting food on the table.

It is rare to find someone who can do both. As Leicester with its diverse population becomes an ‘ethnic minority, majority’ city, it has unique struggles which an ethnic minority woman Mayor in the heart of central Government can push to solve. Those are the needs of the hour. Having seen Baroness Verma work the hours needed, with the results needed, the networks needed to deliver – she has my vote to make Leicester a great international global City – solving the biggest local problems, from clean, crime-free streets, to high quality, high paying jobs.

Alpesh Patel

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