In 2000 in the first ever mayoral contest I was the Green candidate for Mayor when Ken Livingstone was an independent running against his own party.
At the time we were a very small party looking at making a high-profile breakthrough and we saw the London Assembly elections as a real opportunity.
A rapport developed between myself and Ken on the campaign and he urged people to vote Green in the Assembly elections and I (with the formal backing of London Green Party) urged people to put Ken Livingstone as their second preference for mayor.
From being a completely marginal figure at the start of that election campaign it utterly transformed things for me.
There was constant media speculation about whether I was going to be Ken’s deputy, the Daily Telegraph ran a long and fairly hysterical editorial warning people how dangerous it would be if I was elected to the Assembly working alongside Ken Livingstone.
And even the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, publicly had a go at the two of us for ‘hooking up together’ in this way which was highly dubious in his eyes.
It had a momentous impact on our small party’s profile, gave us a stunning boost in the Assembly elections and, with the exception of 2004 when Ken Livingstone first rejoined Labour, London Greens made a similar decision on second preferences each time he ran.
Even with Ken back in Labour for four years when we held the balance of power over his budget and we were able to get a huge amount of things done together, in spite of big differences on things like roadbuilding.
However, this all arose from a unique set of circumstances with one mayor that stemmed from that very first and highly unusual election.
In no other mayoral contests in London (Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets) were Greens ever endorsing Labour or anyone else for second preferences and, similarly, in no other mayoral contests anywhere outside London had Greens made any similar recommendation.
Finally, what we are seeing now is London Green Party doing exactly the same as virtually every other political party in virtually every mayoral contest – promoting our own candidate and our own party and leaving voters to make up their own mind on second preferences.
It doesn’t mean we are tacitly endorsing the Tories or we hate Labour with a vengeance.
The vast majority of Green voters are left of centre voters and I trust them to make a sensible choice when they make their own minds up on what to do with their second preference. In the meantime, members of London Green Party are going to spend the next two weeks promoting their own candidates for Mayor and Assembly, just like all the other parties.
I’m proud of what I pulled off with Ken Livingstone 16 years ago in a very unique political situation. But having won seats in every City Hall election and having become an established player in London politics what was appropriate in 2000 is not appropriate today.
Londoners will elect a new Mayor and the 25 members of the London Assembly on May 5th. Candidates for Mayor include Conservative Zac Goldsmith, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green party’s Sian Berry and UKIP’s Peter Whittle.