In 16 months Londoners will be asked to vote in the third GLA elections and choose a Mayor and 25 Assembly Members yet neither of the major opposition parties have yet selected the Mayoral candidates they hope to convince Londoners to back in favour of Labour’s internal shoe-in and incumbent Mayor Ken Livingstone.
Londoners feel they know Livingstone and, despite the assertions of signed up members of other parties, many like what they see and hear. It’ll take a lot of effort and time for any rival to come close to matching him in terms of name recognition so it’s rather depressing for anyone who values true democracy to start another year without a single known challenger for the role.
To be fair the Tories did at least try to select a candidate early but a weak field of self-appointed candidates led party bosses to delaying the process ensuring whoever they finally choose will be open to the charge that they didn’t want the job enough to commit at the earliest opportunity.
Meanwhile a recent poll of Liberal Democrat members suggests they prefer the idea of putting forward a virtual unknown against a media dominating incumbent. After the failure of their best known London MP Simon Hughes to dent Livingstone’s lead in 2004 this suggests a curious lack of reality on their part.
As we’ve argued many times the LibDems and Conservatives need to stop treating the campaign to find and market a Mayoral candidate like some backwater council by-election.
Londoners deserve more than to have some unknown placeman paraded in front of them for a couple of weeks next spring before being handed a safe Parliamentary seat or returning to their well-paid business interests.
Instead of filling the airwaves with constitutionally illiterate nonsense about the need for a General Election when Tony Blair finally steps down opposition leaders and their strategists should start paying attention to an election which offers the victor the UK’s largest personal electoral mandate.