Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Why I’m voting for Paddick – with a transfer to Livingstone

Gherkin2Like a lot of people of my broad political persuasion, I’ve been finding it very difficult to decide how to vote in tomorrow’s election for London’s mayor. Despite the importance of the post, the choice boils down to what one considers the least evil.

I’m a Labour supporter, and would vote Labour without a second thought if we had a regular Labour candidate. However, I’d prefer London’s mayor to be a Tory rather than a genuine extremist of right or left; I’d vote Tory if it were the only way to keep out the BNP or Lindsey German and the Left List.

Ken Livingstone is half-way between the Labour mainstream and left-wing extremism. He was resolute in supporting NATO over the liberation of Kosova and in condemning the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London (though his condemnation was shamefully marred by his description of the bombing victims as ‘working class’ – as if middle-class victims were less worthy). He has some real achievements as mayor to his credit, above all running an efficient bus service, something that I, who grew up in the 1980s and remember the horrors of the London bus service under the Tories at the time, greatly appreciate.

Yet while I do not hate Livingstone, I do consider him unelectable in principle. His endorsement of various fascist and extremist political elements, from Yusuf al-Qaradawi to George Galloway, Kate Hudson and the so-called Stop the War Coalition, and his collaboration with unsavoury anti-Western leaders abroad such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, make him unacceptable. How can we have a mayor for our capital city who has a working relationship with the enemies of our country and of Western civilisation ? Lest anyone think I’m simply being sectarian here: we’re talking about people who support the fascists in Iraq who are not only murdering innocent civilians, but killing our soldiers as well. What a disgrace. I’d rather have Boris Johnson as Prime Minister than Livingstone.

Additional minuses for Livingstone are his philistine disregard for London’s heritage and opposition to Heathrow expansion – things that I, as a born and bred Londoner and a frequent flyer (though probably not as frequent a flyer as Ken himself) deeply resent.

Having said all that, Livingstone has one great advantage over Johnson: he is a passing phenomenon. He will serve one more term and can then make way for a more palatable Labour candidate. By contrast, a win for Johnson could be the thin end of the wedge, leading to a Tory-controlled London for an unknowable length of time, and perhaps paving the way for a Tory victory at the next general election.

So I’ll cast my protest vote for Brian Paddick, with a transfer to Livingstone. I should add that I dislike the Liberal Democrats as an essentially irrelevant party and the ignominious recipient of the anti-Blair Guardianista protest vote at the last general election. But Paddick seems a decent enough chap.

I’m sorry if none of this sounds very idealistic, but such is the choice that we in London face tomorrow. Hopefully, we’ll be given a better choice next time around.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008 - Posted by | London, Red-Brown Alliance, The Left, Transport

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