What’s Up London?

Heard of London? Well, on May 3rd they will be electing the third Mayor since the role was created in May 2000. The role was held initially by Ken Livingstone (as an Independent Candidate after losing the Labour Nomination) from 2000 to 2004. In 2004, Ken upon returning to the Labour stronghold returned for a second term as Mayor. In 2008, the current incumbent, Boris Johnson was elected as the first Conservative Mayor for London. So, so far London has had an Independent Mayor, a Labour Mayor and a Conservative Mayor, could be time to give one of the other parties a chance?

So, who are the candidates for this year’s race? There are seven candidates in total:

Boris Johnson, the Incumbent is standing for the Conservative Party.

Ken Livingstone is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour nomination was contested by 4 candidates;

-          Ken Livingstone (Previously Mayor for 2 terms)

-          Former Labour MP Oona King (MP Bethnal Green and Bow 1997-2005)

-          Seton During (Chartered Engineer, former Enfield Councillor)

-          Emmanuel Okoro (Artist)

Ken Livingstone won the Party Nomination with 68.6% of the vote to King’s 31.4%.  See this link for an interview with three of the candidates: Total Politics Interview

Brian Paddick is standing for the Liberal Democrats

The liberal Democrat Nomination was decided by a vote on a shortlist, this shortlist had 4 candidates:

-          Lembit Opik (MP Montgomeryshire 1997-2010)

-          Brian Paddick (2008 Candidate, previously Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London Met Police)

-          Brian Haley(Councillor in Haringey, defector from Labour in Jan 2010)

-          Mike Tuffrey (Led the Lib Dem group on the London Assembly 2006-2010)

Jenny Jones is standing for the Green Party.

The Green Party Nomination was chosen by London members voting on a shortlist. This had three candidates:

-          Jenny Jones (Assembly Member, Previously Deputy Mayor 2003-4 under Independent Mayor Livingstone)

-          Shahrar Ali (Lecturer)

-          Farid Bakht (Writer)

Siobhan Benita is standing as an Independent candidate. (Siobhan is an Ex-Senior Civil Servant)

Lawrence Webb is standing for Fresh Choice for London Party.

Lawrence is the UKIP Nominee, however he is not standing under the UKIP Party name and is standing under the label of ‘Fresh Choice for London’.

Carlos Cortiglia is standing for the BNP. (Carlos is a Press Officer for the BNP.)

As a result of all this Election, we all get to experience the joy of watching the Party Political Broadcasts…

Conservative Party – Boris Johnson – Boris spends the whole of his election Broadcast emphasising that the election is about ‘trust’. However, he has the effect of making the election all about himself and places the characteristic influence on his policies on transport (a traditional, continuous conflict that occurs between Ken and Boris). Furthermore, the broadcast has the effect of making it all about the man… Boris. Yet, if he does get elected there is much more to it than that… he doesn’t use the opportunity to show the support of ordinary Londoners which all the other broadcasts do which makes it feel at odds and doesn’t feel like Boris is connected to the people of London. This feeling is amplified when there are shots which show Boris doing paperwork in an empty train carriage rather than being surrounded by ordinary Londoners.

Labour Party – Ken Livingstone – Ken’s broadcast sparked some controversy when he was accused of using actors rather than genuine backers (see Guardian article) – should party political broadcasts be required to only show genuine supporters rather than paid actors? And what about the fact that Ken was moved to tears by the broadcast at the launch of his Election bid? Livingstone’s explanation for why he started crying doesn’t sit well with me… in the article the Guardian reports that he said: ‘it represented the views of “hundreds of thousands of Londoners who desperately want a mayor who is going to make their life easier in this city”.’ yet saying something like that in my opinion comes across as big headed and doesn’t really ring true when the whole broadcast was obviously choreographed and scripted by Labour activists and those at Labour HQ! As to his policies, obviously there is his claim on transport that fares will be cut by 7% saving money for Londoners (about £1k in 4 years according to his campaign) otherwise he will resign.

Liberal Democrats – Brian Paddick – Paddick has a strong enthusiastic team behind him and a strong track record in London on policing and also the highest ranking most Senior openly Gay Police Officer in the Uk . However, you could argue he weighs in on this policing advantage too much. He is pledging to head up personally the Mayor’s office for Policing and Crime if elected. With the mantra ‘Fairer, Greener, Safer’ Paddick is a strong candidate when it comes to the Policing and Crime aspects to the election, and in light of the recent riots last summer this might just play to his benefit. Further, his manifesto pledge on public transport are bold, with the innovative idea of a ‘one hour bus pass’ proving popular and ‘early bird’ concession rates which put the Liberal Democrats on the table with the debate on public transport rivalling Boris Johnson, especially with their commitment to not increase fares above inflation over the next four years.

Green Party – Jenny Jones – The party political broadcast s quite clever, but only really makes sense by the end, have a look and see what you think… (post your thoughts in the comments below). As you would expect there is some emphasis on Climate Change, Sustainability, and emphasis on making London a place where you can walk and cycle in a nicer environment.  As a candidate Jenny is well qualified, having been on the Assembly since 2000, she is also a member of the Met Police Authority. Overall the Green party manifesto for London argues that London should be a flagship city marking the way for the world on how to become a more sustainable ‘more equal, healthy and affordable for everyone’.  She is one of the strongest candidates the Green party have fielded in any election, however it is unlikely the party will receive enough votes for her to be brought in as Mayor, however they will be looking for a strong showing of Assembly Members.

Independent – Siobhan Benita – Unlike the parties above Independents and smaller parties are at a disadvantage, Siobhan has been making some noise complaining over what is very flawed treatment by the BBC. Siobhan was excluded from a 45 minute Newsnight debate and she is also to be excluded for debates to be held by ITN and Sky. She, along with the BNP and UKIP candidates were given only 45 minutes to make their case in pre-recorded clips. As far as I’m concerned, Siobhan is a strong contender yet she is unable to get the message out for her campaign due to archaic and flawed broadcasting guidelines held by the BBC and followed of sorts by other broadcasting companies. To see her policies and understand more about this contender who is being considered as a serious option with a chance at gaining a substantial portion of the vote go to her website: http://www.siobhanformayor.com She has been dubbed the ‘Borgen’ Candidate and ‘the one to watch’. She is backing policies such as a third runway and later tube running times on Friday and Saturday nights. Plus other new initiatives such as free travel for job seekers, a ‘Free London’ day and making Education a priority along with appointing a Young Mayor. She has strong ideas and promises to be an alternative to the bitter and often immature and dehabilitating context of party politics in local and national politics.

Fresh Choice For London – Lawrence Webb – the UKIP manifesto, whilst thin takes some ideas used which are central to the Lib Dem campaign and amps them up a bit with a 70 minute transferable ticket on public transport. They also have considerable emphasis on removing the congestion charges and encouraging citizens to make citizens arrests. Also, they champion a pledge to reduce VAT on beer and cider to 5% even though the Mayoralty doesn’t currently have the legal ability/power to carry this out. These policies rest along the usual policies focusing on immigration and helping British businesses.

BNP – Carlos Cortiglia – the BNP campaign attempts to produce a campaign which is rather strange and doesn’t seem that consistent when the candidate himself was a Uruguayan National before becoming a British Citizen. With a unique and patchworked background the BNP have not fielded a candidate who will pose a threat or challenge to any of the other candidates with it highly unlikely for him to receive any protest votes against the main parties.

So, there they are the candidates… who will you be backing? And why? At the moment I think the best prospects are Brian Paddick, Jenny Jones and Siobhan Benita. I think London has had enough of Boris and Ken and its time for them to leave… London needs a forward thinking, experienced Mayor and there is too much history with Boris and Ken and we need a new Mayor in order to have some progression for the better rather than someone who is still stuck in their ways.

I’d like to hear your opinions… post a comment below or if you’re feeling it submit a post to www.voicesofthe7billion.co.uk about your preferred candidate in the Mayoral Election.

(This is the second post in my #OnePostEveryDay Challenge… )

Follow me on Twitter: @Chrindu

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