Monday 21 April 2008

Mayor's appeal

To save you the trouble, I've had a quick read of the bumph I got in the post the other day, which contains the election appeals from the candidates for the Mayor of London. They are arranged in random order, and I've followed the same order in my listing. It makes for pretty sorry reading - considering that this is the only piece of literature that is guaranteed to arrive in the houses of about 99% of voters - and hence is the most likely to be read by the electorate (although I'd say that likelihood is pretty low) - some of them seem to have put very little thought into what they have used their two pages/£10k contribution to say.

1. Richard Barnbrook, British National Party.
Richard has a letter addressed to you, his 'fellow Londoner' and a selection of quotes from people 'like you' who are going to vote for him. Funnily enough they are all white, even though a lot of his fellow Londoners are black. But don't take it personally. He is going to stop asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from engulfing London, and taking all your houses and hospital places. And he's going to give all pensioners a free 24-hour travel pass (to go with the off-peak one they currently enjoy). He's also promising houses, a better NHS, better education, jobs, lower council taxes, lower tolerance on crime and yobs, and pretty much anything else you want. Apart from immigration.
Student Samantha Winter is committed to voting BNP 'because I'm Irish and the BNP is the only party that cares about the indigenous people of these islands. Our jobs are under threat from economic migrants' she says, oblivious to the irony in her words.

2. Lindsey German, Left List.
Lindsey has made sure to get her full money's worth out of her two pages by including plenty of text; unfortunately there's not much about her intentions, as she spends a lot of her space moaning about the things that are unjust and bad about London and about Labour. She has ten steps to a better London - most of them involve opposing things, which could be quite difficult without additional political backing. Many of her aims are admirable, to provide more council housing, better transport, to enforce the London minimum wage and to oppose discrimination, but I can't help thinking it's a very big ask.

3. Boris Johnson, Conservatives.
Next to a big picture of Boris looking like someone is teaching him to read (slowly), he sets out his eight-part plan to make London better. Numbers 1 to 4 are about reducing crime, including 'cracking down on the culture of casual disorder'. This focus on fear suggests either that he is a puppet having his strings pulled by the paranoia-inducing Evening Standard (surely not?!) or that he doesn't have many policies. He's also going to protect our green spaces, while in the same breath scrapping the congestion charge. He pays lip service to housing, without actually saying much about it. According to his spiel, he 'has the ideas to do it', but obviously doesn't feel inclined to share them with the electorate.

4. Sian Berry, Green Party.
Sian's election manifesto stands out among the wasteland of empty words - whether or not you agree with her aims, at least her promises are measurable and her aims relatively modest. She wants to cut bus and off-peak tube fares by 20p, impose a 20mph speed limit on all residential roads, give free insulation to all homes that need it, and change planning rules to ensure that at least 60% of all new housing is affordable. She is backing small businesses by pledging to provide affordable premises in new commercial developments, wants solar electricity and heating on 100,000 roofs in the city by 2015, and says she will cancel the Thames Gateway plans. Insisting on the London Living Wage and opposing airport expansion are also among her aims, although her pledge to bring rail and tube franchises back under public control is probably straying into the realms of fantasy.

5. Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat.
Unfortunately someone told Brian that purple goes well with yellow and that he should use the two colours liberally (ahem) in his manifesto. I suspect few people will be able to read this without hurting their eyes, but no matter, as Brian's spiel is largely predictable. As an ex-copper his first priority, natch, is crime. He's going to cut it. He's also going to improve transport, although it seems all he is going to do is provide more buses, and more countdown information boards. Apart from making it safer and free from crime, of course.
As something of an afterthought he's going to provide more affordable homes and oppose Heathrow expansion. I'm sure he'll make them free from crime too. My lifelong political leanings, such as they are, are often more lib dem than anything else, but I have a nagging feeling that Brian is in the wrong party.

6. Gerard Batten, UK Independence Party.
"Fed up with not being listened to?" asks Gerard, perhaps a little too bitterly. Vote for him and he makes the radical promise that he will punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Having to use this as one of his election promises smacks of desperation. But wait, there's more! He's also going to say No to the Lisbon Treaty/European Constitution. Thank God for that, it's about time one of the London mayoral candidates brought that up! Oh, and he's padded out his other crime/transport pledges with a ban on 'cash for cronies and quangos'. Despite all the bullshit, he still seems to have given slightly more thought to his manifesto that Boris.

7. Alan Craig, The Christian Choice.
Alan has wheeled out his thoroughly wholesome looking family for a photo opp, although I did have to check the caption to find out whether it was his wife in the picture, or his eldest daughter. He spouts a lot of stuff about promoting marriage and stable family as the answer to every social evil, while opposing plans by a 'controversial Islamic sect' to build a 'mega-mosque' in West Ham. His opposition seems to be more on religious grounds than planning concerns. He also intends to 'end the (alleged) corruption at City Hall'. The brackets are his. Er, that's about it.
I'm slightly mystified as to why someone would want to waste their money putting themselves forward as a candidate for The Christian Choice. Surely it would be a simple matter to work out exactly what sort of chance you would have of being elected, just by digging up statistics on the number of people who attend church in the capital, or the number of couples living in 'sin'?

8. Matt O'Connor, The English Democrats.
Matt loves being English, he seems quite nostalgic for the 'green and pleasant land'. Being a Londoner, he is obviously older than he looks if he can remember that far back. There's a lot to read on this page, but I can save you some time here. Matt says we must stop giving money to Scottish people, and introduce a bank holiday on St George's Day. It's as simple as that. Bless.

9. Ken Livingstone, Labour.
Either the devil incarnate, or the saviour of London's buses, depending on how you feel about him. Or somewhere in between - contrary to what the Evening Standard thinks, there are a lot of people out there who don't necessarily like Ken, but are willing to recognise some of the good things he has done for London. In Ken's election picture he is smiling broadly, and looks like the friendly old bloke down at the allotments who gives you tips for improving your carrot crop. Take a good look, it's probably the only place you will ever see this picture.
Ken is pledging to continue improvements to the public transport network, extend discounts for students and young people, and make the Freedom Pass valid 24 hours a day (bet you never thought you'd see a BNP/Labour manifesto crossover!!!). Elsewhere it's refreshing to see someone addressing the needs of young people by promising to provide new opportunities for them in education as well as out of school hours, rather than just regarding them as part of the crime statistics and threatening to take away their free bus passes if they misbehave. Naturally Ken plans to pursue his intentions to increase the congestion charge for high polluting vehicles while reducing the tax on the least polluting.

There is another candidate; Winston McKenzie, who is standing as an independent. He didn't contribute to the booklet, for what reasons it's unclear. So if you want to read about his policies, you can see them here, including his mayoral rap. His top priorities are the congestion charge and youth crime, he obviously intends to have policies about tubes and buses, Crossrail, the Thames Gateway and green issues, but either he hasn't thought of them yet or he's still trying to find something to rhyme with gateway.


The Greenwich Phantom said...

Great Roundup, DD!

DDKK said...

thanks Phantom! I was starting to wonder if anyone was still reading here.....

Anonymous said...

Alan Craig's predecessor Ram Goodimal only missed getting an assembly seat due to a technicality called the D'Hondt method.

A similar party (Christian Union) has just become part of the Government on Holland which is similar demographically to London.

Yes Christan's are a minority, but church attendance in London is actually rising rapidly, but no one talk about because it's happening among ethic minorities. The issue is mosh ethnic minorities feel so excluded from the democratic process they don't bother to vote. So we will see what happens.

The Mosque issue is serious Tablighi Jamaat are't to be sniffed at! Yet everyone seems to group all Islamic groups as the same. MOst politians see them all as positive and then the BNP and UKIP see them all as bad. It's only Alan who draws the distinction.

Greentea said...

Hello - thanks for the brilliant round-up of information. For some reason a lot of the 'documentation' either didn't come through my letterbox or was thrown away along with the take away pizza menus. If it's any encouragement, I've really enjoyed your articles on Deptford and beyond. The Dog and Bell pub looks great. Incidentally that's how I came across your site - looking for pubs in New Cross. Thanks and chin-chin

DDKK said...

Ram Gidoomal 'only missed getting an assembly seat due to a technicality called the D'Hondt method'. I think you mean he failed to get enough votes. In the mayoral election he received 2.17% of the first choice votes and 2.95% of the second choice votes, while in the assembly election the CPA got 2.86% of the votes. So Alan has got a lot of work to do. I don't deny that, like the BNP and other minority groups, they may be able to get council seats in specific target areas (West Ham maybe?).

The Shadow; thanks for your comments, glad you like the blog. The managers of the Dog & Bell have left now, and although the beer is still being kept well, unfortunately the food has reverted to unexceptional.