Vote!

Its May Day, it’s Fiona Parker’s birthday, and its time for elections!
If you’re in London, you can exercise your democratic rights by voting for the Mayor, the Policeman, or the Blonde Imbecile (not that I’m trying to influence you or anything).

If you live in London and don’t vote today, then you have no right to complain about whatever bad decisions the man in City Hall makes over the next 4 years. Polling stations are open from 7am – 10pm, so you really have no excuse.

Get out there and vote!

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Candidates Debate

Mayoral CandidatesThere 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.

City HallIn 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!

London Elects

[I haven’t managed to write a ‘serious’ blog post for quite a while now; I do apologise. Life sometimes conspires against the thought that leads to serious blogging… Hopefully this will make it up to you slightly ;) ]

London ElectsThere are 98 days until the next London Mayoral election. The race is between the current incumbent, Labour candidate and previous independent Ken Livingstone; quiz show host, Spectator editor and quintessential Tory Boris Johnson; and Brian Paddick, former Police Commander of Lambeth (and the force’s highest-ranking openly gay officer), standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Dear old ‘Red’ Ken is in the headlines again this week, as his London Development Agency is being accused of corruption and incompetence (and as usual, the Standard is trying to link the controversy to the mayor). Ken is rarely out of the spotlight in London, mainly because he is controversial and self-promoting in equal measure. He is your classic highly-flawed political operative, full of egotism and drive, bullying through policy mainly by force of personality. He is also good at surrounding himself with forceful, unelected technocrats, who often attract their own controversy, as in this case

But for all that, Ken has actually done quite a bit for London, most obviously radically changing the public transport system. Many of his changes are seen as anti-car, which is why the Standard seem to hate him so much, but I for one don’t see that as a bad thing. London is choked with traffic, and travel has been difficult and expensive for the thousands of workers on less-than-average wages (like myself). Ken’s policies have done quite a bit to make travel for the working man easier (like the Congestion Charge, and the big increase in busses, along with a reduction in bus fares for those with Oyster cards).

At this stage (and we still have 98 days to go) I see myself voting for Ken on May 1st. Despite some controversy (corruption still not proved), and the ridiculous wages of some of those unaccountable technocrats, life in London with Ken has been better than life before him. I don’t drive, I have no sympathy for those that try to in London, and that seems to be peoples main objection to him. Personally, of the three candidates it is Brian Paddick who I think would do the best job, but a vote for him makes a win by the imbecilic Boris more likely, and we can’t have that.

Johnson is undoubtedly intelligent, but shows absolutely no evidence of the ability to govern effectively, and no real policy initiatives (playing to the crowd doesn’t count). I’m a great believer in the maxim ‘better the devil you know…’ so at this point my vote is for Livingstone, so that Johnson stays out.

Better the egotist to the imbecile any day…