London votes (well, Bob just about manages to)
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.
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.