London has an election coming up on May 3rd, and your intrepid blogger has a vote.
As is his wont, he has decided to go through the candidates, and openly muse about why he should (or shouldn’t) vote for them. Given the number of candidates, it seems as though we’re going to do this in three parts; we will endeavour to cover all candidates prior to the election.
So, in the order presented in the pamphlet provided by London Elects, here are the candidates to be the Mayor of London:
Lawrence Webb, UKIP
I don’t know much about the UKIP, other than that “UKIP” stands for “United Kingdom Independence Party”, and that they’re a conservative party that would like the country to exit the EU. The Mayor of London has no say in such matters, of course, so — other than a feather in their cap, of course — there’s no obvious UKIP policy that fits with the power of the mayorality.
So what does their manifesto contain?
Amazingly, since it lies outside of the mayor’s power (although perhaps not surprisingly, given it’s the purpose of their party) the thrust of their point-form manifesto, is an anti-EU and anti-immigration policy. (Really. A one page, point form, manifesto. I’m embarrassed for them.)
Their anti-immigration stance has even evolved into some sort of generic anti-movement policy, separating “long term Londoners” from the rest.
This list includes things beyond the mayor’s power (changing immigration policy, altering EU policy to eliminate red tape), the illegal (giving preferential treatment to people from London on the job market), the weird (levy 25p on all overseas visitors), and the immoral (giving preference to Londoners over asylum seekers for housing).
Law and order?
Webb seems intent to undermine the police and justice system through his “Law and Order” proposals:
- Zero tolerance on certain types of crime. Leaving aside that zero tolerance policies do not work and pervert the course of justice, the line “offend on Saturday, face court on Monday” strikes me as impossible.
- Encourage citizens arrests.
The good idea
Every campaign needs a good idea, right? For Webb, it’s the time-limited multi-bus trip: as many bus trips as a person wants/needs within 70 minutes of the ticket’s purchase.
The caveat is that this appears to have simply been stolen from the Liberal Democrat platform (see below). So, um, the only thing I like about the UKIP platform is the bit they stole from the Lib Dems.
Why you should vote for Webb
London is a global financial capital — immigration is its lifeblood. An anti-immigration mayor, even a powerless one, would do irreparable economic harm to the city and the country.
The immigration issue aside (if that’s possible with the UKIP), Webb’s ideas seem pretty awful. The one page manifesto is an embarrassment; any serious candidate who wants your vote should put some effort into their campaign.
Even if you find yourself agreeing with the UKIP and Mr. Webb, the poor showing on the manifesto shows that he is not serious about the role; he does not deserve a single vote.
Carlos Cortiglia, BNP
The BNP (British National Party) are a far right party of racists and bigots.
There is no reason to examine the Cortiglia’s platform.
Do not vote for this man.
Siobhan Benita, Independent
My dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties (see below) makes an independent candidate intriguing. An independent needs more vetting, however, as their unstated political views are not necessarily clear based on party alignment, and their track record may be absent.
Such is the case with Ms. Benita, who has an About Page that is worryingly absent of content.
Still, after reading the UKIP’s “manifesto”, Benita is a breath of fresh air. She has a separate manifesto for each of her policy areas, any of which put the UKIP manifesto to shame.
Ms. Benita appears to be prepared, and has some interesting ideas.
Why you should vote for Benita
Other candidates seem rather lackluster (see above and below), which is a poor reason, but a reason all the same. She also has well thought out positions that I happen to agree with:
Education appears to be her primary concern, and she wants to bring libraries under the mayorality. I am on board with these — although concerned that her primary agenda appears to deal with subjects that are outside the purview of the mayor.
Given the new rules for academies brought about at the national level, to have the mayor responsible for planning permissions for new schools, while the councils are responsible for education itself seems like a strange mismatch (of course, Conservatives probably see it as “competition”, and won’t change the rules here). Throw in the fact that the mayor is a visible force in the city, while most people do not know who represents them on the council, and it would create greater accountability for a primary concern in local elections.
Other fantastic ideas:
- Free transport for job seekers
- Having the tubes run later on weekends
- Better river transport services
- Donate government buildings to charities after working hours
Beyond this, we are also rather fond of her entire Housing Manifesto.
Why you should not vote for Benita
A lot of the mayor’s “powers” are not powers, but places where they wield influence. This is done – as far as I can tell – through will and personality. When I watch Benita talk (and that’s a video from her campaign website, not something random I chose in which she is uncompelling), I’m not convinced that she can convince people. When I read about her accomplishments as a senior bureaucrat, I find them to be suspiciously vague.
She has no track record, and there’s no reason to think that she’ll be able to push through anything on …
… education, which is the focus – “priority”, in her words – of her campaign, despite it being outside the remit of mayor.
… economic growth, which is one of the mayor’s responsibilities, but one in which she has no official powers.
… improve policing, where the mayor has many powers, but is not involved in operational decision making.
With her top priority being outside the scope of the job, an absent track record, and no opportunity to see her in action under pressure (as an independent, she is not invited to the debates), she seems to be a “high risk, high reward” candidate.
I like what she’s selling, but remain quite unconvinced that she can deliver any of it.
Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat
At the moment, I am not a big fan of the Liberal Democrats. I was quite excited about them in the last General Election, and thought quite highly of the prospects of a coalition government that featured them. Unfortunately, they seem to have instead agreed to support the Conservative party – thereby losing their progressive voting base – in return for a referendum on AV that they lost, at least partially, by mismanaging the campaign.
It has not been impressive.
But local politics and national politics are quite different, and when it comes to the position of mayor the person matters even more. The mayor does not answer to the party whip. And Brian Paddick is a very interesting candidate.
His Lib Dem affiliation paints him as a progressive candidate, but he comes from a policing background which, to my mind, tends to produce more right wing types.
His number one focus, naturally, is the police. With his mix of the progressive and the practical, he makes a quite intriguing figure as the person in charge of the Met.
Why you should vote for Paddick
First and foremost, because of his position on policing. Too often those who make “improvements” to policing – who provide more money, more manpower, more tools – are hardline right wingers. A progressive with practical experience approaching such a role is a rare and wonderful thing.
There are other nice ideas in the manifesto — the one-hour bus fare supported by the UKIP also appears here, along with other ideas to make travel in London more affordable to those on a limited income. There are also some good longer-term environmental goals
Why you shouldn’t vote for Paddick
That Lib Dem association again. While the policing focus – along with the clearly well thought out practical ideas – is all Paddick, the manifesto is decidedly about the Liberal Democrats, and not Paddick himself.
How much does he care about these things? How committed to them is he? And – given my reservations about the party itself, these days, is there enough Paddick here to hold my nose and vote for his party?
Stay tuned …
There are still three candidates — including the two favourites — still to come. Keep an eye on the Big Bad Blog for more of our election preview.