As another set of GLA elections approach the predictable calls for a coalition against the BNP are being sounded.
Firstly Tory Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson invited suggestions that he fails to understand the GLA’s budget setting process when he suggested the election of two BNP Assembly Members could see a future Mayor beholden to the party to get his or her budget approved.
Then yesterday Labour Assembly Member Murad Qureshi issued a “call to arms to London’s voters” warning that the party were just 0.1% away from winning a seat in the 2004 elections.
The One London party have expressed the view that giving the BNP the oxygen of publicity simply boosts their appeal – there’s undoubtedly an element of truth in this.
Playing the role of devil’s advocate, if 5% of those who bother to vote next year are persuaded by the BNP’s policies is there any reason – beyond the discomfort of the other 95% of us – why they shouldn’t have an elected representative in the capital?
We also need to ask would there be the same desire to ‘warn’ the electorate if a fundamental Christian or Islamic group were on the brink of securing a seat or would their right of religious expression overrule any distaste of their policies?
There’s a very real danger that opponents of the BNP not only talk up their chances of securing a seat but inflate the seriousness of them doing so.
A single BNP member would have no influence on the GLA’s policies and, despite what’s been said elsewhere, would have almost no chance to determine the Mayor’s budget.
The only way they could is if all other opposition parties plus our theoretical BNP member constituted the two-thirds needed to force through an alternative budget.
Can anyone really imagine a situation where (assuming the Assembly looks roughly the same after the election) the Greens, One London party and either Labour or Tories (depending who wins the Mayoralty) were prepared to do a deal with the BNP just to shave a couple of hundred million off the budget’s bottom line?
It would be political suicide. It won’t happen.
In the event that Ken Livingstone is re-elected there’s absolutely no prospect of the Tories handling Labour the next general election by voting alongside the BNP.
If Boris Johnson were to win can anyone really imagine Labour’s Murad Qureshi or Jennette Arnold voting with the BNP just to upset his first budget? The very suggestion is laughable.
Rather than scaring the electorate with doomsday scenarios London’s politicians would better spend their time explaining to the electorate how the GLA works and just how little scrutiny power the Assembly has over the Mayor.