Another Mayoral Election
I'm cynical about 'democracy'. I believe that whoever you vote for, the government always gets in. If you do vote, you have to live with the consequences. If you don't vote, then you can always say that the consequences are nothing to do with you.Londoners have a choice today
, essentially between incumbent and unpopular Ken Livingstone and incompetent yet populist Boris Johnson. The electors do have other choices, unlike Jakartans last year, but they also have proportionally weighted representation so that second-choices have a value.
I haven't lived in London for over 20 years, but I am a Londoner and, cor blimey Guv
, it's a heritage I'm proud of. I'm also a Ken fan, having campaigned for him when he started on his political path back in 1973/4 by trying to get the votes of we "hippy squatters" (©
The Times) in Lambeth. He was elected, as was John Major who went on to become Prime Minister, the successor to Margaret Thatcher.
Later, as Leader of the Greater London Council (GLC), Ken promoted such schemes a 'Fares Fair' policy whereby children could travel throughout the city at a subsidised rate, thus escaping the ghetto-like housing estates in which they were virtually imprisoned due to the poverty trap, and primary and secondary housing co-operatives which went some way towards enabling 'Housing For All'.
Margaret Thatcher, the arrogant Tory Prime Minister, dissolved the GLC at the behest of the upper middle classes of the outer-London boroughs who resented subsidising those who lived in the deprived inner-city, often due to their poverty, ethnicity and/or other perceived societal disadvantages, and thus benefitting most from the GLC policies of the time.
I've never liked Ken
as I always felt he was far too left wing and uncompromising for my outlook. Yet, as a fellow Londoner, I have generally believed that he has had the well-being of Londoners at heart. I do not believe that he is someone seeking self-glorification or financial rewards. Above all, his current legacy is a city which has a future because it has promoted public transport above private gas-guzzlers, which welcomes tourists, and is a place residents can be proud of. (I wish I could say the same about Jakarta!)
Boris Johnson is not a Londoner and has absolutely no experience of running a bureaucracy. He is a man with no substance, and little no empathy with his fellows. In fact, he is capable of offending entire countries!
Here are some of his other sayings:On transport
"I don't believe [using a mobile phone at the wheel] is necessarily any more dangerous than the many other risky things that people do with their free hands while driving - nose-picking, reading the paper, studying the A-Z, beating the children, and so on."
Daily Telegraph, 2002On Africa
"Right, let's go and look at some more piccaninnies."
· Reported remark, while visiting Uganda, to Swedish Unicef workers and their black driver. Observer, 2003George Bush and Iraq
"He liberated Iraq. It is good enough for me."
Daily Telegraph, 2004On sex
"I've slept with far fewer than 1,000."
· On whether he has slept with fewer than 30 women, like Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.
Daily Telegraph, 2008On obesity
"Nothing but their own fat fault."
As a Londoner, I urge all readers who are eligible to vote today to do so. Don't live to regret your inaction. This also means that even if you don't want to vote for Ken, for everyone's sake, don't vote against him. Today, consequences do matter!
..........................................A Word After
So I failed to influence the vote and Boris was the choice of those Londoners who don't experience the deprivations of living in inner-city areas, but prefer to commute in their gas-guzzling SUVs.
However, shortly after being elected the new Mayor of London, he publicly told Ken Livingstone
: "I think you have been a very considerable public servant and a distinguished leader of this city. You shaped the office of mayor. You gave it national prominence and when London was attacked on July 7 2005 you spoke for London.
"And I can tell you that your courage and the sheer exuberant nerve with which you stuck it to your enemies, you have thereby earned the thanks of millions of Londoners even if you think that they have a funny way of showing it today.
"Johnson made clear that he still envisaged a role for Livingstone, who had suggested he would have offered his Tory rival a job if he had held office.
"When we have that drink together, which we both so richly deserve, I hope we can discover a way in which the mayoralty can continue to benefit from your transparent love of London, a city whose energy conquered the world and which now brings the world together in one city.
And that is the core of my support of Ken through the years: he has always worked hard for London, particularly in defence of its multi-culturalism. If Boris, and Gov. Fuzzy Bodoh here, have just half of Ken's commitment towards improving the lot of their city's residents and denizens, then there may be cause for optimism.