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Comments

Opinicus

All that he says of planning and housing is absolutely correct and important
So why, why does he bring in a motion on Foreign Affairs? Who cares about foreign affairs? If Ken wants to be photogrphed with the assorted criminal psychopaths who constitute the government in so many happy lands overseas that is surely a matter for his personal judgement. If he thinks that's a vote winner with the immigrants who have fled from them, he probably errs.

As for the power of recall, there is no doubt it adds to the gaiety of the nation but it precludes any politician bringing in tough but necessary measures because they get voted out in the tough phase before the benefits come through - that is one of the problems with democracy in any form but this particular sort of short-termism is doubly damaging.

Winchester whisperer

Part of the "water strategy" should be to use the Thames far more efficiently as a mode of transport for people.

aristeides

With respect to Michael Gove, who is much more often right than wrong, this is absolute codswallop.

It pains us all to see Ken monkeying around with his position. However, the brutal fact is that he is extremely popular in doing so. A recall referendum is a foolish tactic that would, were it to be deployed, almost certainly backfire. Anyway, why would there need to be one when an election is fairly imminent?

With regard to foreign policy, if Ken wants to swindle a thick tinpot dictator out of his (very poor) nation's assets, that's a matter for him and his conscience. If Londoners are to benefit, they are hardly going to protest.

What we need to focus on is the vision, the policies and the person to take on Ken in the election.

Roger Evans

Livingstone has already said that he considers the requirement for consultation a 'waste of time'. This requirement needs some real teeth if it is to be effective.

On Foreign policy, we need to tightly define 'Major capital cities'. Does Havana come under this heading? Or Caracas? Over on www.city-hall.blogspot.com I have published a list of London boroughs the Mayor has visited since his re-election in 2004. He has not set foot in a third of them which clearly shows that he should be spending more time in the capital.

The recall power is excellent and might discourage future incumbents from throwing gratuitous insults around.

Graeme Archer

It's great to see an idea born in Hackney becoming an official campaign. I completely support this. If we really believe in localisation and the devolution agenda, and we are serious about re-engaging people with their rulers, we should completely be advocating this kind of policy. There's something suspect about the opposing idea - that you can have too much direct democracy - don't we, after all, trust the people?

A thug like Livingstone won't change. Londoners bloody well should be able to force a recall when he commits one of his egregious acts, acts (like embracing people who want to execute homosexuals) which certainly didn't feature in any of his lying manifestos.

NigelC

I am surprised M Gove, as shadow Housing Minister, is not talking on the news today about Ruth Kelly's plans to concrete over most of Hertfordshire. It seems she is meeting her promise to protect the Green Belt by moving it!

aristeides

Graeme

I think you are letting your frustration override common sense. There is absolutely nothing "suspect" about opposing the idea.

Were an recall referendum to be initiated against Ken Livingstone, even if the appropriate number of signatures could ever be found, he would almost certainly win it. The organisers would then look weak and could be accused of being motivated by spite as well as wasting public money. We have democratic elections in this country for a deemed term of office and it has served us fairly well for the past 200 years or so. Furthermore, there is already provision for the Mayor to be suspended, or worse, if he breaks the law.

George Hinton

I am just a little outraged and gobsmacked at Red Ken's comments the other day about city bonuses. Just where does this idiot get off from criticising meritocracy.
His comments are a clear demonstration that Ken pays lip service to democracy. That at heart he is the old trot, who seized control of Labour and the GLC, by an old style putsch, in a smoked filled room the night of the elections after Mackintosh had won.
I see no point in a "recall" option. Getting rid of Red Ken, permanently, solves the problem, as it is only he, who has this cavalier disregard for the electorate, and a complete contempt for the democratic mores.
Hamstringing our political ways to deal with a temporary aberrration is not the way forward. US ways do not necessarily work in the UK, unless you bring the whole baggage train and all its impedimenta.

aristeides

"Getting rid of Red Ken, permanently, solves the problem"

George, are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?! Just how permanently do you mean?

London Salmon

The idea of a recall to balance the Mayor's powers is very good, however, a cheaper and more effective way of doing this would be to strengthen the existing institution of the London Assembly, by giving them at the very least the power to amend, if not veto outright Mayoral policies on straight majorities. That would concentrate the mind of any Mayor, and follow this country's long standing (and successful) tradition of parliamentary democracy.

tired and emotional

Count me in George, I've a new definition of direct democracy I'd like to apply to Livingstone.

Seriously though, more democracy not less, always. Livingstone might win a recall referendum, he might, but then he might not. And he'd have to stop finding ways to screw the capital up while he concentrated on it and just having to think about the possibility of getting dumped at any time would clip his wings considerably. He couldn't shaft us for three and a half years and then come over all reasonable and jokey just before the election proper...

Same goes for any mayor... the outcome is less important, ultimately, than the existence of the process and the power it puts in the hands of the people to remove their officials.

Derek

Surely we must adopt Lee Rotherham as our candidate. To stand for the abolition of his office is the ultimate sacrifice. Get behind Lee!!!

George Hinton

Aristeides..

Whilst one would like to....it is not legal unfortunately, and anyway it is the sort of thing done by "johnny foreigner".

No, i mean ensuring that someone of Red Ken's ilk becomes unelectable. Too few people remember the events, the very stalinite putsch that saw londoners saddled with a complete load of tossers and idiots. Who totally radicalised politics, sent local taxes soaring, imposed the initial PC, created stasis in the corridors of government, acted as a breeding ground for every idiotic idea on earth and eventually went too far with the loss of the GLC and democracy for Londoners.
How on earth Ken got elected is a nightmare for those with memories.
He just needs to be smeared, and with the cost of the Olympics going through the roof, and an undertaking from London's taxpayers in existence, to pick up the bill on the overspend, he's living on borrowed time and knows it. It also represents a double edged sword against NuLab in the person of Blair or Brown, whichever route they take they will be excoriated.

Andrew Ian Dodge

Well if he feels that way maybe he might want to back Dr Lee Rotherham's run for the office. Dr Lee seems to be the only one talking reform of the office.

Graeme Archer

Since it's Christmas I won't agree with the "permanent removal" suggestion :-0) (though a faraway look of pleasure may perhaps have misted over my eye for a moment).

What about Michael Gove as the Tory candidate for mayor? Seriously.

Kevin

"I am just a little outraged and gobsmacked at Red Ken's comments the other day about city bonuses"

I'm sure at least 95% of Londoners would support Livingstone's criticism of excessive bonuses and as has been pointed out further up the thread his views on foreign policy are fairly popular too.

aristeides

"Whilst one would like to....it is not legal unfortunately, and anyway it is the sort of thing done by "johnny foreigner"."

LOL, George! Maybe we could ask the Russians for some spare polonium-210.

Everybody, I come back to my point that we need to focus on the vision, the policies and the person to take on Ken in the election. We must put forward a positive case, not invent and then rely on some imported procedural device. I hope to make a contribution to this page on exactly this topic early in the New Year...

Andrew Boff

I really didn't come up with this proposal purely to unseat Ken. To just have recall without a voter initiative procedure might be considered a welcome but rather blunt instrument.
The proposal I have made would be about standing up to a centralising executive and an ever-growing unaccountable political class. Both need to be reminded of where they get their authority from.
Voter initiatives are about giving power back to the people to set objectives and, if necessary, constrain the executive within parameters.
The irony has not escaped me, however, that as I am the only candidate for Mayor who is proposing this, it would be about stopping me from doing my worst.
Aristeides might say that's no bad thing.

london tory

Come on guys... if this party had spent as much time trying to win the past few GLC and GLA elections as it has trying to think of ways to interefere with the results, we would be rid of Mayor Livingstone by now.

Focus. Please.

Joe V


I like some of this, and the acknowledgement that this is a centralising bill, but someone needs to tell the Conservative London Assembly Members, and those who instruct them how to vote. When they voted on a lot of this bill in two separate meetings of the Assembly, it was only the UKIP/One London lot who put the case against and they were fairly hard line on the centralising bit while the Conservatives were weak (I can't remember if they were still UKIP at the time or had become One London). The line by line votes were almost comic - 23 for all this stuff against the 2 One Londoners. And the Conservatives were getting quite rattled - the Chairman tried to hurry the votes through as "agreed". Every time the One London lot said "No" the Conservatives got restive and pissed off and were sighing as if everyone should just agree and go away. And one totally mad situation occurred when I worked there. There was a part of one of the recommendations which said that the Assembly acknowledged that the Mayor should have a quite considerable amount more money for "political advisers". A LOT of money. The One London group actually put a motion to scrap this, argued the point very clearly, and the Conservative group voted AGAINST the motion. The Conservatives voted to give the Mayor MORE cash for POLITICAL advisers. Only two Lib Dems voted for the One London motion (ie against more cash for political advisers), and they broke ranks with their colleagues and expressed utter amazement in private after the event that the Conservative group did not vote the same way. As a result of the Tory 9, the Bill goes with an Assembly acknowledgment/recommendation that the Mayor should have more money for playing politics. It's all very well to start making noises now but are we serious about our position on any of this?

Graeme Archer

I knew if I even breathed a suggestion of another candidacy, Andrew would finally get online and defend his excellent proposal (the first 100policy.com.thing and endorsed by the readership). I still can't understand at all why Tories would oppose voter initiatives/recall powers for voters. It must be that some people don't trust other people, except once every four years when presumably the hope is that the horror of public opinion is sufficiently diluted by "our kind" of people. I'm sure such views are held with the best of intentions, but I find it an offputting blast of de haut en bas which Toryism, in its organic roots-up approach, ought to be completely in opposition to. He said, ending a sentence with a preposition, sorry.

aristeides

Graeme

Feel free to end sentences with prepositions, if you want to. There are more important things in life to fight against.

However, I would beg you to listen to what london tory and I are saying. Let's put this into perspective. There have only been two recalls in the USA in the last 100 years. They are extremely rare events and they are very hard to get off the ground. They do not come without a financial and political cost to the proposers.

In addition, recalls militate against unpopular, but necessary policies - which is where I disagree with Andrew Boff's assertion that I might think it no bad thing that they would stop him doing his worst. No, no, no. I fear the opposite: the threat of a recall would stop him doing his best. As the first commenter, Jonathan, says above "it precludes [I would say discourages]any politician bringing in tough but necessary measures because they get voted out in the tough phase before the benefits come through - that is one of the problems with democracy in any form but this particular sort of short-termism is doubly damaging."

On the other hand, we have an actual election for the mayor in eighteen months. Now, we can talk about procedures, and recalls, and restrictions on responsibilities until we are blue in the face, and you know what... the voters won't give a damn. Why don't we try, just try, to put forward a positive message about what we can do for London that will actually matter to people?

Martin Hoscik

To those people who oddly wonder how Mayor Livingstone got elected the answer is he was more popular with Londoners as a whole (or at least those who could be bothered to vote) than any of the other candidates.

It's quite simple really.

The tragic thing about these discussions os they always revert to a few people asserting that because they dislike something KL has said or done that this is deeply unpopular with Londoners as a whole.

Depressingly this is a common trend in followers of anything.

When not pontificating on London Politics or running the rest of my company I run www.unitnews.co.uk - a Doctor Who news site (!)

There have been several episodes which die-hard fans despise and so they walk around sagely describing these episodes as "the worst" or "series killing" claiming they'll bring around the death of the series and through repetition these claims become the accepted wisdom within their circle.

On the other hand the audience figures and audience appreciation surveys show that the wider public loved these episodes and far from killing the show they are held up as examples of the highs the series can achieve.

The hatred within some Tory circles for Livingstone is much the same in that it's not shared by the wider public even though the naive and depressing strategy of many in your party seems to be 'let's just wait for the public to decide they hate him' as much as we do.

Instead of relying on the public to discover they they really share your hatred of the current Mayor you need to accept that with the public at large he IS popular and then work out how to be MORE popular.

The only reason the 2008 Mayoral race appears to be a one-horse race is because the Tory party have allowed it to become one.

The open primary was a good idea poorly executed, someone should have taken informal soundings to see who was likely to stick their head above the parapet - let's be honest it wouldn't have been given the high profile launch it was if party managers had realised the current slate was what they'd get.

Why not spend your time focussing on what you'd do for Londoners rather than continuing the political battles of 1986?

tired and emotional

There always seem to a hundred good-sounding reasons why people cannot intervene more directly in and take more control over their own lives. But we will never interest people in politics if we can't bring political decisions closer to their lives, which means giving people more power and more ability to change things. If we are not prepared to take the risk in instituting more direct and vital democracy then we might as well acquiese in the EU takeover and let them regionalise us out of existence. By and large the people can be expected to do at least as well as the elites at making choices...

Joe V


100% right london tory - Focus. Please! If we concentrate only on mechanisms for trying to get rid of elected people, we are kind of declaring our despair. This is what happened over the Standards Board case and the Mayor. I left working at City Hall while this was all going on, but to my amazement, we were silent on the morality of an unelected official at a government quango being able to disqualify an elected Mayor for doing something which was not illegal. Extraordinary. It took others on the Assembly to make the case for democracy. Our lot were silent in their hope that the issue would topple the Mayor. Some hope. And it made us look shabby and second rate. We have to declare a real vision for London, give our people there some independence. Where's our Livingstone? They do exist. Like Livingstone they may have left the party, fallen out with people in it. But we are doomed if we do not think imaginatively. And we have to do it now.

Roger Evans

Joe V appears to have some sort of vendetta against the London assembly Conservative group. He claims to have worked for us, but I can't recall his presence, nor can I recall anyone in our team suggesting that we should back Livingstone against the Standards Board or support the One London amendments to the response to this bill. His claim that someone elsewhere 'instructs us how to vote' is just plain wrong - the group takes decisions at the weekly group meeting and there are no officials from elsewhere present (in marked contrast to the other groups). Perhaps Joe in fact worked for One London, certainly his posts suggest a lingering loyalty to them.

On the bill, the assembly spent much time discussing their response which sought to give us more scrutiny powers to balance the growth in the Mayor's responsibilities. One London chose to come in right at the end with a wrecking proposal which would have destroyed weeks of work. We were right to oppose them, and we have been assisting members of both houses of Parliament in amending this bill - hence the current discussion thread.

On the Standards Board, I would abolish it tomorrow - but why support Livingstone as a special case when dozens of councillors have been damaged without any protest on their behalf? To side with One London might even have suggested we supported the Mayor's actions! Not an easy decision but I believe we did the right thing.

And what of 'One London', previously known as 'Veritas', previously elected as 'UKIP'? Joining three parties in as many years suggests these people are 'gadflies'....

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