There are 22 days to go until the London Mayoral Election (and the nationwide local council elections, if you care about such things). Why do we care? Well, we care because the Mayor of London is the most powerful job in Local Politics (arguably the second or third most powerful in the whole UK), administrating a £9bn budget affecting upwards of 25 million people. The Mayor of London’s power is by no means absolute (mitigated as it is by the London Assembly, the London Borough Councils and the UK Parliaments London Local Government Office), but the decisions made in City Hall probably have more affect on the day-to-day lives of Londoners than those made in Downing Street. Who gets this job matters.
So yesterday we got our first candidates debate, ably hosted by the BBC’s Newsnight team. Candidates’ debates are a particularly American phenomenon, and clearly a format that none of the three main candidates were comfortable with (all three stumbled several times during their opening remarks). You can watch the full thing here.
Three candidates: Ken Livingsone (Labour), the incumbent; Boris Johnson (Conservative); and Brian Paddick (Lib. Dem.). Poor old Paddick made sense when he had the opportunity to get his point across, but was completely outdone by the other candidates. Old ‘Red’ Ken did well, but was largely on the defensive, fielding accusations taken directly from the front pages of the Evening Standard, which he did his best to dismiss as the sloppy journalism that they are… (Which says something about the other two candidates: the only criticisms they could level are ones raised by a woefully biased tabloid – stories that are largely ignored as sensationalist by the mainstream media). And then there’s Boris…
OK, I’m biased. I think this guy is inexperienced, popularist with a total absence of policy, gravitas and, well, common sense. I personally think that Boris came off in the debate as someone who has no real policies, and cannot admit to the costs of even the few ideas he has managed to come up with. (Witness the many, many times he was asked to come up with a figure for the cost of commissioning ‘new’ Routemaster busses – no figure was forthcoming because, quite frankly, he has no idea). But like I said, I’m biased.
In my opinion, Boris, who is riding high in the polls at present, would be a complete disaster. His greatest level of experience is editing The Spectator, where he managed somewhere between 20 and 50 people, and had to make numerous apologies due to insensitive editorial comment. His own party have never trusted him with anything more than an appearance on comedy show ‘Have I Got News For You’. It’s not exactly the sort of experience you would want for someone running the most powerful provincial authority in the country.
Londoners, you have two votes to cast on May 1st: a 1st choice and a 2nd. Please, please don’t give Boris your 1st choice. And whichever of the 10 candidates you put 1st, please give Ken your number 2 (if not number 1).
Lets keep the blonde imbecile out of City Hall. Please!