Conservative Mayoral Candidate Boris Johnson has defended himself against accusations that he lacks sufficient knowledge of the Mayor’s powers.
The claims were made by One London Party Leader Damian Hockney after Johnson appeared to misunderstand the role of the London Assembly in setting the Greater London Authority budget.
Mr Johnson, who is also MP for Henley sponsored an Early Day Motion in the House of Comomons which states:
“This House notes that in May 2008 there is a possibility that at least two members of the BNP will gain a seat on the London Assembly. As things currently stand there is a grave risk of these two members of the BNP having a deciding vote on the Mayor’s budget.”
However under GLA rules opponents of the Mayor’s budget have to raise the support of two thirds of Assembly Members if they wish to amend the bottom line of the budget.
This apparent misunderstanding of the voting system led to Mr Hockney claiming that Johnson “appears to misunderstand the Budget process in London.”
Responding today to the remarks Mr Johnson told MayprWatch “We are simply raising the nightmare scenario that we all want to avoid. If a budget vote is close, then there is a situation that those BNP members may hold the deciding vote on the two thirds system – just as the green party currently does.”
“We are aware that the Assembly only has an amending role, but in practice some members have a great deal of influence over the Mayor when he decides his budget.”
Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson said the Mayor “has been reliant” on his party to get his budget through for the past three years adding “we have used this influence to ensure a massive increase in resources to tackle climate change.”
The AM expressed doubts at the prospect of the BNP holding any influence over the budget commenting: “I don’t think any mayor of any political party would ever want to do a budget deal with the BNP. So while it is important to do everything we can to keep the BNP out of the Assembly I can’t imagine they would ever have much influence even if they were elected.”
Boris Johnson said he called “on One London to join me in combating the BNP and be responsible in party politics so that we don’t give extremist parties like the BNP an easy ride”.
However a spokesman for One London blamed high profile interventions against the BNP for the recent success citing the results of last year’s council elections in Barking & Dagenham which saw the BNP become the second largest party after Labour MP Margaret Hodge claimed eight out of ten white voters she canvassed were considering voting for the party.
The One London spokesman told this site: “To appear to be conspiring against the BNP, either by legislating against them (as Boris Johnson’s EDM appears to recommend) or to refuse to acknowledge the will of the electorate if the BNP do win seats will enable the BNP’s propaganda machine to paint themselves as victimised underdogs fighting the system.”
“One London has nothing but contempt for the BNP, but we will join no “alliance” against them. We will fight this election on the issues that matter to Londoners, and we urge the other parties to do the same.”