It’s Local Election Day. Who Cares?

Zac Goldsmith or Sadiq Khan for London? Who cares?

“I think voting is great, but if I have to choose between a douche and a turd, I just don’t see the point” – Stan Marsh, South Park

Apparently Thursday 5th May – local election day across the UK – is being dubbed “Super Thursday“.

Except that unlike the Super Tuesdays of the American presidential primary calendar, there is nothing remotely exciting about these local elections, with the partial exception of the Scottish and Welsh assembly polls.

In London, we are bestowed with the awesome privilege of choosing between two leading candidates for mayor – Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan – neither of whom have any meaningful executive experience and both of whom fail the first test of competence and political courage by failing to support the immediate expansion of Heathrow Airport. For this dismal failure alone I cannot bring myself to vote for either man.

Depressingly, the only remotely praiseworthy recent act of English localism – the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners – has been badly administered and (with a few honourable exceptions) increasingly captured by the same mindless party line approach to voting seen elsewhere. And the scheme does not even apply to London – here, the mayor holds the powers of police commissioner, meaning there is no possibility of a New York style Giuliani-Bratton double-act to crack down on crime. Nobody in London specifically responsible for crime can be removed at the ballot box.

Granted, “Super” Thursday carries a little more weight if one is hugely invested in how aggregate tallies of local council seats reflect on the leadership of the main political parties. But with all the parties committed to campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union (save UKIP, who often may as well be fighting for the Remain camp) again there is little incentive to specially reward or unduly punish one of the parties currently engaged in the process of selling out our democracy more than any other.

Besides, if you are choosing the person to represent your local ward or district because of something that David Cameron or Jeremy Corbyn said on TV or because everyone in your family/workplace/pub votes a certain way out of tribal loyalty, then you probably don’t understand how local politics is supposed to work. But then I cannot really fault those who do so, for in nearly all cases local authorities have so little real power in over-centralised Britain that it doesn’t much matter who controls the council anyway.

So, if you are a hardcore Sadiq Khan or Zac Goldsmith supporter (assuming that a human watercolour painting like Zac Goldsmith actually has any hardcore fans) – good luck today. May your man win, and may you dance in the street in celebration.

To those pundits waiting to pounce on the results as they come in, and speculate feverishly about whether significant council seat losses for Labour will bring forward the much-anticipated coup against Jeremy Corbyn – knock yourselves out.

To my bloggers-in-arms, fighting the good fight to make the thinking person’s case for Brexit and the restoration of our democracy – keep doing what you are doing. Working alongside you is an honour and a privilege.

…and may all your Super Thursdays be bright.

 

Zac Goldsmith - Sadiq Khan - London Mayoral Election

Bottom Image: The Guardian

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Politicians Who Are Against Uber Are Against Working Londoners

Uber Taxi Protest

Uber represents everything good about capitalism, disruptive innovation at its most useful. Any politician who wants to make it harder or impossible for Uber to operate is directly working against the interests of the people

If a group of heavies from, say, the Unite union had broken into Parliament during the recent debate on the Trade Union Act, disrupted the House of Commons, forced an end to the session and knocked a security guard unconscious in the process, what do you think David Cameron’s Conservative government would be doing right now?

Exactly. Those involved would be receiving the same full measure of British justice as was dealt out to the London rioters back in 2011 and looking at some hard jail time, while the unions they represented would be positively begging for measures as mild as those currently proposed by the government. The Conservatives would be at total war with the unions, and Labour’s hyperbolic claims about the Evil Tories wanting to roll back two hundred years of industrial relations regulation might actually start to seem plausible.

All of which makes it surprising that when exactly the same thing happened at London’s City Hall earlier this month – when members of that famous cartel, London’s black cab drivers, burst into the chamber and brought an abrupt end to Mayor’s Question Time – there were absolutely no negative consequences whatsoever.

CityAM reported at the time:

Mayor’s Question Time was shut down after police were called to City Hall today, after a security guard was apparently knocked out in scuffle outside the building. 

Black cab drivers were demonstrating outside (and inside) the Southbank venue over ongoing criticism of Transport for London’s handling of regulation for private hire car companies, in particular Uber

They waved banners calling for Johnson to “stand firm” against “Uber’s lobbyists”, with suggestions that the ride-sharing taxi app puts public safety at risk. 

Ah yes, appeals for politicians to consider public safety – the last refuge of the desperate, antiquated monopolist fighting a lost cause as they slide into irrelevance. Won’t somebody please think of the children, too, while we’re at it?

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Meet ‘Tessa’ – Labour’s Pop Star London Mayoral Candidate

Tessa Jowell - London Mayor - 1

Meet Labour’s Kylie Minogue

I’ve been getting all sorts of interesting correspondence since signing up as a Labour Party supporter last week in order to support Jeremy Corbyn and join the fightback against stale political centrism.

But by far the most amusing to date was a missive from Alan Johnson’s mailbot, desperately promoting his favoured choice for Labour’s London mayoral candidate. You could almost be forgiven for thinking that he had discovered a genuinely inspirational candidate, from the effusive sales pitch:

It starts with a look. Then a double take. Then a smile. A moment to work up the confidence and then they come over. Tessa cannot leave the house without meeting new people who want to say hello. I have seen this a hundred times, and believe me it’s not normal – no other politician inspires such warmth.

Tessa is a star. She is Labour’s Kylie – everyone loves her and she only needs a first name. She has a remarkable way with people that generates real affection. But that’s not why I’m backing her to be Mayor.

I backed Tessa right from the start because she has the right values to make London a fairer place to live. Through Sure Start and the Olympics she has a record of delivery that is second to none, and I know she can beat the Tories.

And today, I’m more sure than ever. But it’s not just because the opinion polls show she’s the only candidate who can beat the Tories – though they do and by a country mile. It’s because she has set out a genuinely compelling vision.

The “genuinely compelling vision” apparently was not so compelling that it made the main body of Alan Johnson’s email, but put that aside for a moment.

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