“Vote for anyone on that paper except the two big parties” says Damian Hockney
Take a deep breath. This is about election numbers and percentages. But it might help you if you want an Assembly that will hold the Mayor to account, whoever emerges on Friday at the flooded City Hall. It involves a candidate (me) telling you openly to vote for other candidates…now, how rare and magnanimous is that from a politician on the eve of an election? Here goes.
It is almost impossible for the Conservatives to win a seat in the London-wide Assembly Member election (peach-coloured ballot paper). Even though they have come top of the poll in both 2000 and 2004.
The Tories got half a million votes in this election and not one seat. They came nowhere near to getting a seat. In fact they would have needed many hundreds of thousands more votes to get just one seat. Instead these seats mostly went to Labour, LibDem and Green candidates…
Why? Because the Tories win a disproportionate number of the Constituency London Assembly Member seats (yellow paper) under first-past-the-post.
People still do not understand the London Assembly, even the Government which keeps calling it the “Greater London Assembly” (which it is not). It is a body supposedly there to ‘hold the Mayor to account’. That is its role. And it starts with a massive handicap in having the main parties on it. How can a Tory hold his own Mayor to account? We’ve had too many years of Labour Assembly Members asking patsy planted questions to the Mayor at Question Time to believe that the Tories will be any different.
So this issue of Tory voters in the London-wide Assembly election is important for those who want to hold the Mayor to account from a perspective of:
* keeping the council tax as low as possible
* querying more taxes and fines
* keeping in check the daft spending
Every Tory vote in this system is wasted, and as a result most of the seats have ended up with those who want to spend spend spend (with the exception of One London).
Of course, on the Assembly Constituency ballot paper (the yellow one) every Tory vote counts, and seats like Enfield and Haringay are ripe for the taking on a tiny swing from Labour (very likely). So if I were a Tory voter, I would make sure I voted Conservative on yellow ballot paper, but I would vote One London or UKIP on the peach ballot paper – simply because each 100,000 votes (roughly) will deliver a seat for these parties whilst not even half a million votes would win one seat for the Tories.
Indeed if the Tories were to win Enfield and Haringey and keep their other seats (the most likely outcome), then they would need to double their vote in the Assembly elections, getting over a million votes (well over a million votes) to have any chance at all at just ONE seat.
They would need 60% of the vote! Way way over a million votes to get one seat. Now that is totally impossible. And this is because the List is a top-up list, not a list which stands alone as its own election – so in 2004, once it had been declared by 4pm on the day the results were announced that the Tories had won 9 seats, the computer than calculated that the Tories would need 46% of the vote on the Assembly List to get their next seat…and in an election where so many smaller parties were taking a small but significant share of the vote, it meant that achieving 46% was an impossible dream…so all those half million Tory votes were wasted. At a high point for them, the Tories got just below 28% of the vote (see table below). Labour got just over 24%.
So, if you like the cut of my gib, free market anti-regulation, we support Heathrow expansion (yes Richmond, I’ve not forgotten the ‘reception’ you gave me!), we oppose taxes on carrier bags, we want to scrap the C-Charge and replace it with proper traffic management…then please vote for One London.
But this is where I become magnanimous and all inclusive.
If you do not agree with our views or politics, then arguably more important than my own pitch to save my seat is the following strategy: you should vote for ANY other party than the two ‘main’ parties.
Labour voters, why not flirt with Gorgeous George or the Left List? Or, said
through gritted teeth, the Greens. Give them a chance to spend even more money. Do you really think the Labour Party Assembly Members will be any better at holding a Labour Mayor to account than they have been so far? But George Galloway will, won’t he?
All those half million Tories who managed to get not one Assembly List Member should vote for One London or UKIP – we will hold a Labour or Tory Mayor to account – we each need only about 100,000 votes to get one seat.
Those half million votes could deliver 6 or even 7 seats between us because of the system…6 or 7 seats held by people who will try and stop wasting and money and vote to bring down the council tax. You would also have two other groups who will be more inclined to question Boris OR Ken, whose policies are in fact very similar.
Can you seriously see those 9 or 10 Tory Assembly members anyway rigorously holding their own man to account if he became Mayor? Exposing failures and broken pledges? If you don’t have alternatives on the Assembly, the next Mayor will be as unaccountable as the last.
I hope you won’t vote for the Left wing BNP (they call themselves the Labour party your grandfather voted for) but each to his own. It’s a democracy (well sometimes it is, and for some people) and they are favourites to win at least one seat on Thursday and get the highest vote of the ‘alternative’ or smaller parties. The threshold for a smaller party is 5%. They must get that to win at least one seat.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see an Assembly composed of disparate elements, all with their own pet subject areas. A handful of LibDem, Respect, Green, UKIP and One London members would challenge the main parties and often hunt as a pack.
The Greens and One London are in many ways diametrically opposed, but on many occasions when we have civil liberties issues at the forefront, we have worked very well together and been able to attack an issue (like the banning of protests around Parliament Square) in a forceful way which is the more effective for having opposed groups with no hidden agenda or party HQ breathing down our necks telling us what to do or say. BNP? Well there is no doubt that if they won 2 seats and formed a group there would be mass angst at City Hall. But that’s democracy. Individually, no small group can have any impact on a Mayor or upon policy where the Mayor wishes to ignore them. So there is in fact nothing the BNP can do in practical policy terms by being elected.
They will be under daily scrutiny themselves. If they are as bad and mad as everyone says, this is the body where they will show it, and it is a powerless and harmless body. I have to say I would rather it didn’t happen, and I’m not a hysteric on the subject. But I’ve seen all sorts of people demonised in my long history in politics, both here and abroad, and I instinctively worry about uncritical assaults upon any viewpoint which fails to be specific.
The main parties are using the BNP as an excuse to say “get out and vote for me, or you’ll get the BNP, the bogeyman”. Doesn’t this remind you of the “Vote for a Crook or a Fascist” which we had in France a few years ago? Not very edifying really.
But far better would be to simply give over 5% of the vote each to a whole group of smaller parties and see if they can do a better job than the big parties did for eight years. Better? It couldn’t be worse.
2004 List Results
Conservative: 533,696 votes (27.84%) – 0 seats
Labour: 468,247 votes (24.43%) – 2 seats
Lib Dem: 316,218 votes (16.5%) – 5 seats
Green: 160,445 votes (8.37%) – 2 seats
UKIP (then One London): 156,780 votes (8.18%) – 2 seats
BNP: 90,365 votes (4.71%)- 0 seats
Respect: 87,533 votes (4.57%) – 0 seats
CPA: 54,914 votes (2.86%) – 0 seats