Thursday, 24 April 2008

Mayor of London: Decisions, Decisions













It's a week to go until the London Mayoral and Assembly elections and... I still haven't made my mind up which way to vote for Mayor.

The problem, as you may have anticipated, is that both of the main candidates are singularly unappealing, albeit for different reasons. The alternatives, including Brian Paddick, are not polling well at all - It would be a very big shock indeed if the Liberal Democrat were to win, never mind Sian Berry, Lindsey German or Gerard Batten. Votes for these candidates may send a message, but they're unlikely to actually affect the result.

Fortunately we get two votes in the Mayoral election, so we get the opportunity to do both. I have since the start of the race intended to vote for Paddick as 1st preference. But, as in this case my second preference is almost certain to come into play, the dilemma remains.

I discussed in detail the relative policy merits of Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson on QT last month. Overall, I felt then that both candidates offer a mixed bag, but Ken's manifestos look stronger and more informed. Boris has been caught out on issues, particularly the costing of bus proposals, and other proposals, such as his FirstSteps housing scheme look ill-thought-out. I consider that many of the questions being asked about Boris Johnson's competence should he be elected Mayor are justified.

Some of the decisions taken by Ken during his time as Mayor hardly bring 'competence' to mind either, however. The amount of money he has spent on PR and other advisers - such as the scandal-hit £120,000(!) per year equalities adviser Lee Jasper - and on relations with left-wing regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, not to mention the Islamic fundamentalist, indicate some peculiar priorities. As does his 'watermelon' pre-occupation with climate change. Although facetious in tone, I consider his suggestion that the threat of climate change warrants a 'nanny state' to be indicative of an authoritarian bent. In combination with his endorsement of New Labour's ID card scheme (and of course more recently his snubbing of a NO2ID hustings that Boris and Brian took part in), this seems like someone who I'd prefer to have as little power as possible...

...But the alternative is Boris Johnson. And, appealing as he is on Have I Got News For You and the like, the idea of him running our capital city is, to say the least, hard to take seriously. A man who has infamously suggested prejudice against black people, Muslims and gay people in his writings in charge of a city as diverse as London? A man who has frequently come across as confused about even his own key policies and whose bumbling persona surely cannot be just an image elected as London's representative as the world's eyes increasingly fall on the city in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics?

For all Ken's faults, this cannot be a good development. I'm reluctant - I've said on more than one occasion that I would not vote for anyone in favour of ID cards, in particular. His tendency towards identity politics and enviro-alarmist rhetoric are major turn-offs too. But, outwardly pleasant and normal as he may seem in contrast to Ken's self-aggrandizing image, I just feel that Mayor Boris would be bad for London...

...And, for that reason, I come to the conclusion that I ought to 'hold my nose' and vote for Ken Livingstone as second preference (after Paddick). I'm still to be fully convinced, however...

4 comments:

Mattwardman said...

Don't forget that Ken has appeared on Have I Got News for You six times, himself.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Vote for Gerard Batten. Please.

QT said...

No, I'm not voting for Gerard Batten. At the NO2ID hustings, he couldn't seem to stop himself from ranting and raving about immigrants at every opportunity. There's an acceptable, libertarian face to UKIP. He's not it.

Fed up with politicians said...

So, even as a member of the Libertarian Party, which is committed to abolishing the National Identity Register / ID card scheme, you are still planning to (effectively) vote for New Labour Ken "ID card / CCTV/ Oyster card surveillance" Livingstone with your 2nd preference vote ? How will that increase our personal freedom and liberty ?

The main difference between Boris Johnson's gaffes and insults about various individuals, groups and minorities, compared with Ken Livingstone's offensive remarks, is that Boris invariably apologises for them, in public, afterwards, whilst Ken utterly and and arrogantly refuses to do so, and usually digs a deeper hole for himself.

Neither of these behaviors is ideal for the office of Mayor of London, but of the two, Livingstone's is the more dangerous and damaging to London.