As exclusively predicted by Mayorwatch last week, One London Party Mayoral candidate Damian Hockney will formally withdraw pull out of the race tomorrow citing a “media blackout” of “so-called minor” parties and what he describes as “being banned from every Mayoral hustings”.
It’s understood that the party will put up candidates for the London Assembly list, hoping to make capital on some of the issues they have raised using their two London Assembly seats.
Speaking to MayorWatch last night Hockney said: “the last straw for us was the dismissive, patronising and anti-democratic attitude of the London First quango after we had asked some weeks ago to be allowed to speak at its Mayoral hustings which took place tonight.”
Hockney said it was important to gain access for to events such as hustings as they “are used as a basis for media comment and to be banned yet again in spite of being a pro business anti-regulation political group which reflects the views of London First members struck us as a final irony.”
“The fact that London First issued a statement saying that they “wouldn’t want to inflict issue fatigue on the audience” by having us there somehow typified the attitude and the correspondence between us and them… I think it speaks for itself. Failure to treat properly, failure to respond and a very bad attitude towards democracy – they should all be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”
The part has also been unhappy at their treatment by the mainstream media and the limitations placed on campaigning by electoral laws, according to Hockney the party “was told by important London media that they were not able to cover our policy initiatives, we then tried another way and realised that it was impossible by law for us to even write to the whole electorate in London and tell them about what we stand for.”
“The tedious official election booklet bars you from putting in a number of things which are important in an election and your copy is censored. The legally allowed budget does not permit you to write even once to everyone who votes in London, so if you are barred from the media other than through tiny pre-arranged slots, and if you are not allowed to advertise on tv, then how precisely can you get your message across in an election like this which is entirely media driven?”
Hockney’s strongest words of condemnation are reserved for the broadcast media, “the broadcast rules are a disgrace and they effectively function as a maximum time allowed for small parties, because each time one small party in what they have decided is a second tier is mentioned, all the others have to be as well…and it is all too much for those who are producing the programmes”, he claims.
“If you look at the broadcast guidelines as well, you realise that they effectively bar any form of real journalism, and the acres of coverage for the ‘main’ candidates are nothing but patsy advertising based upon ‘balance’. If there were real fairness, it should be grasped clearly that the wall to wall solus advertising given by state radio and tv has a value which runs into millions. Which is being denied to the smaller parties. And which we are barred by law from trying to match by spending laws.”
Hockney says the decisions on which parties are covered and invited to participate in broadcast coverage is informed “on the basis of flawed polling which is skewed against small party and ‘minor’ candidates.”
“The situation is entirely different for the print media – if the Standard or others wish to campaign for one candidate and black others like ourselves, then that is their prerogative – even if I think it unwise and unhelpful – but they are private companies and have a right to do as they wish. We can take advertising in them, but political advertising in newspapapers is massively less effective than short tv spots at all hours of the day which many countries have.”
Predicting “another low turnout” election Hockney warns “the policy-free smear and counter smear campaign between incumbent and ‘main’ challenger will go ahead, will dismay the electorate (who are too intelligent for this charade) and will result in another low turnout”, an outcome he described as “a victory for non-inclusive, out-of-date politics and an attack on diversity of views.”