London votes (well, Bob just about manages to)

I spent my lunch break filling in my postal vote for the London elections. There's three ballots, it's quite fiddly and I've been having a terrible time deciding how to vote, so it took up the whole lunch break. Here's what I decided to do in the end.

London Mayor
The mayoral election (the pink ballot paper) is of course the hottest ticket, with the great unpopularity contest between the semi-competent right-wing ideological Tory incumbent Boris Johnson and his  dreadful but competent Labour predecessor Ken Livingstone. I came close to not voting, as I can't really stomach voting for Ken, but know he'd be a much better choice than Boris.

I figured that neither is likely to get 50% of the first round votes, so it's likely to go to second preferences. This means that (a) a first preference for someone else will not be likely to accidentally let in your least favourite candidate, but that (b) a second preference for anyone other Ken or Boris is basically wasted. On that logic, I put a cross in  the first choice column for the Greens' Jenny Jones, even though she is utterly lacking in charisma, leadership, interestingness or any of the other qualities we might look for in a mayor, but does have  better policies on most issues than the other two.

And, with a clothes peg on my nose, I put a cross in the second choice column for Ken. My reasons are basically the reasons put forward by Michael Ezra here. Although Ken has unsavoury views on geopolitcs, he is not standing for foreign minister but for mayor of London; his power over Israel/Palestine, for example, is limited. He made an effective mayor of London. And, besides, Boris is at least as unsavoury: he is pretty racist for example.

London Assembly
The mayoral race has taken so much of the headlines that it is easy to overlook the fact that we are also electing our Assembly Members (AMs). Although the AMs don't have many powers, they have some: a two-thirds majority can amend the mayor's budget, which will be significant if Boris remains mayor but the Tories loose ground in the Assembly votes.

The proportionate vote for the London members (the so-called "orange" ballot paper, although I'd call it "salmon") is symbolically important. Last time, of course, the BNP managed to break through with 5.3% of the vote to get one seat. It is important to vote in this part of the election to keep the BNP share down, and hopefully get them out. At the top of their list is one Steve Squire. According to Hope Not Hate:
He earns a living by running a sex shop in central London. A few years ago, under his other name Steve Mendoza, he was featured in the Sunday Mirror after his sex shop was caught selling date rape drugs. 
It's bad enough that Squire is in the BNP. It's even worse that his sex shop sold date rape drugs.
And he
comes with what Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, believes to be a rock solid pedigree though it is one that is unlikely to appeal to prospective voters. During a recent argument with party members who were criticising Squire, Griffin defended his place-man from criticism by stating proudly that Squire’s grandfather had been a member of Mosley’s jackbooted British Union of Fascists (BUF) while his father had been imprisoned in the 1970s under the Race Relations Act.
So, normally I vote Green in this bit of the election, which puts Jenny Jones and Brockley local hero Darren Johnson in the GLA. However, this year I decided to vote for TUSC, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, as it would be great to see an actual alternative voice in the Assembly. TUSC's list is topped by Alex Gordon, from the train drivers' union.

Lewisham and Greenwich
The third part of the ballot (described as "yellow" at London Elects, but looking kind of grey to me) is for a Constituency Member, based on a first past the post system as with our MPs. In my area, Greenwich and Lewisham, Labour's Len Duvall, a competent and decent politician, got 36.2% of the vote in 2008, and is unlikely to get much less this time. The Greens (who I voted for last time, then represented by Sue Luxton) are represented here by Roger Sedgely.

Both the BNP and the more explicitly fascist National Front are standing, the former represented by Roberta Woods, the latter by Hitler-supporting Tess Culnane.

People Before Profit are also standing, represented by New Cross character Barbara Raymond. I decided to vote for her, even though she's not likely to get much a vote, just to help show that there is a constituency for radical politics in South East London.

Bonus links: Sunny H: How Boris rewarded cronies at City Hall. James B: Vote Boris or Ken? A plague on both their houses. Judy K: Ken and Socialist Action.

Previously: Here's how I voted in the last elections: in the London list vote, in the Greenwich and Lewisham vote. And why I voted for Ken last time: Reasons to vote for Ken, no.1, no.2, no.2 and a half, no.3, no 4.


bensix said…
I believe this is the time where we provincials feel rather smug...
jams o donnell said…
I know how you feel about voting Bob.

I dislike Ken immensely but still I will reluctantly give Ken my second preference.
Waterloo Sunset said…
Have you heard that Casuals United attacked a SWP stall in Lewisham? 15 against 2, one of whom was a pensioner.

Looks like this might be the start of a wider trend. They're also threatening to disrupt an anti-fascist gig at the Brighton Social Centre in revenge for losing on the streets at the MFE march. I suspect that might not be as easy a target as they're assuming...
modernity's ghost said…

Not much into electoral analysis before the events, but I think we will be able to tell the nature of this dilemma statistically.

One would reasonably expect Labour voters to vote for their GLA candidate as first preference and for Ken?

So I think the difference between those two votes (my guess is that Ken will get a lower vote) will indicate how many people struggled with the question of who to vote for..
kellie said…
Labour and Conservative GLA votes seem to have been much lower than Livingstone and Johnson first preferences last time. Perhaps people see the GLA as ineffectual and therefore suitable for protest voting?

I'm afraid my second preference will cancel out one of those from Bob and Jams. I'm regarding my 'anybody but' vote as a vote for a better Labour candidate next time. Of course I'll be voting Labour for the assembly.
kellie said…
The number of wasted second preferences last time looks incredibe, if I'm reading it correctly - seems a lot of people, hundreds of thousands, either don't understand the system, or don't want to choose between the two leading candidates.
modernity's ghost said…
Interesting Kellie, obvious, but I should have looked at at previous results, a case of writing without due thought!

Just looked at it (latterly) and I think 2004 results might be the one to compare.

A very quick scan revealed that GLA - 1st perf were about 80-81% of Mayoral for Tory & LP candidates, which I never knew.

My theory is that *this* time there will be a dip in that ratio: GLA 1 perfs for major parties vs Mayoral votes, and *if* that proves to be the case then it would suggest a dissatisfaction with the candidate, as compared with previous years.
bob said…
Thanks for interesting psephology - good to return to this on Friday.

On Lewisham, yes, was aware of that. It's covered at Transpontine. Trend indeed seems to be violent attacks against left - and left needs to think about what that means for anti-fascism. Perpetrators appear to be EDL supporters, Millwall fans, Kent/outer London residents - judging from crowing on Facebook & Twitter, tho "official" EDL denies all connection.
darren redstar said…
Just a note of pedantry, from an ex driver, Alex Gordon is from the RMT, which does include some drivers, but the train drivers union is ASLEF, which only contains drivers. Alex is a nice guy, who once described himself as an anarchist, good luck to him.

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