Should we leave the dressing up for tv period dramas?

Lord Mayor Colin Spooner with Sheriff Jeanette Stockley and their escorts

Last month saw the annual ceremony in the Guildhall at which new the Lord Mayor of Canterbury is made.

Councillors put their political differences aside and celebrated the induction of Cllr Colin Spooner as Lord Mayor and Cllr Jeanette Stockley as his Sheriff.

These ostensibly ancient roles were brought into the modern age as councillors and guests shared pictures and thoughts across various forms of social media.

It is a night of pomp and ceremony as the Lord Mayor and Sheriff don their robes, headwear and chains of office.

Many of the members, too, wear robes and gloves. But, as I discovered, here lies a political divide since neither the Lib Dems nor Labour choose to wear the finery while the Conservatives did.

Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding

Indeed, it prompted an online debate between Labour leader Alan Baldock and Conservative Ben Fitter-Harding.

It begs the question of whether there is still any need for such a show, since it appears to reinforce a political divide.

Well, Cllr Fitter-Harding feels lucky to represent his ward of Blean Forest and believes that wearing the civic robes is all about recognising how important his position is.

He was hoping that the day would bring the council together and wearing the civic robes would form part of this.

I think that’s incredibly sad, and I’d like for Alan to break the mould set by his predecessors,” he said.

“I’d like to hear him proudly declare ‘we are Labour, and we stand together with our fellow councillors here in Canterbury wearing our shared regalia for all to see’.”

Cllr Baldock, on the other hand, argues that such regalia serves no purpose in the 21st century.

Cllr Alan Baldock

He understands the benefit of a Lord Mayor, but believes that he can enjoy the election without having to join in with the fancy dress.

Cllr Baldock asserts that it reveals a disengagement if the Conservative group “blindly” follow this tradition.

After all, this does come at a cost for the public and does Canterbury really need it?

The role of Lord Mayor? Probably.

But the frivolous ceremony? Now that’s debatable.

Sure, it’s dated and arguably unnecessary. It comes across as extravagant – even a little Liberace.

Maybe the councillors should attend the meeting and leave it at that.

Who cares if they’re wearing a robe or not? The main point is that a new mayor is elected and represents the city.

Perhaps we should just leave the dressing up for BBC period dramas…

Archie Ratcliffe is a second year law and politics student at Canterbury Christ Church University. He has done work experience with Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield.


  1. Archie always seems to write good, thought-provoking material for the Canterbury Journal – my favourite opinion piece reporter on this website.

    Good stuff.


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