On Thursday, you get to choose your Mayor for the next 4 years. I don’t get a vote, because I live outside London, but nearly every aspect of life outside my front door is potentially affected by your choice, so I have a request.
Please do not blindly go into the poll on party political issues. So Zac Goldsmith is a Tory, and Sadiq Khan is Labour (there are some other people standing too, I have heard). That is clearly AN issue, but it is far from the most important.
Let me explain why.
We Brits are accustomed to voting for a party rather than a person. In a General Election (which, let’s face it, is the only time most people bother), our vote serves 3 purposes:
It goes toward the election of your MP. It goes towards the election of the leader of the party concerned as Prime Minister. And it expresses your general support for the package of policies or principles put forward by that party.
The London Mayoral election isn’t like that, because the post is not the same as an MP. He (and so far it has always been a he) is a member of a national party, but is not subject to the whip as MPs are, and he can (and often does) make decisions and policies that their party leaders disagree with.
Ken Livingstone was no servant of Blair and Boris Johnson is clearly not bothered about what Cameron thinks of him!
This election is far more akin to US Presidential elections. It is not uncommon for a Democratic President to be elected at the same time and by the same electorate that chooses a Republican Congress and/or Senate (and vice versa).
London needs a strong, competent and sensible mayor, irrespective of which party he belongs to (within reason clearly. Membership of Respect is definitely a red line issue).
So here is my plea to you Londoners. For one day, put aside your party prejudices and place your vote for whichever candidate you think is the most credible and will be the best advocate for all the people of that great city.