Hopefully there are very few people living in London who are unaware that we have elections on Thursday. However, while many are aware of the London Mayor elections, there has been far less media attention given to the London Assembly elections.
The London Assembly is a 25-member body that is supposed to scrutinise and hold to account the Mayor of London, though with the exception of the annual budget it has very little teeth to do so.
Greens currently have two members on the London Assembly, Brockley councillor Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones, who have worked hard to see many of our manifesto pledges from 2004 put into effect. Labour have needed the votes of the Greens on the assembly over the last 4 years in order to get their budget through, and Greens have driven a very hard bargain in exchange for that support. I very much hope that they will be re-elected and joined by Noel Lynch and Green Mayoral candidate Sian Berry.
On Thursday Londoners have 4 votes - first and second choice for Mayor and two for the assembly - one for your constituency candidate and one for the top-up, London-wide list. Obviously, I hope that you will give Sian Berry your first vote for Mayor and me your vote for Greenwich & Lewisham Constituency.
However, the most important vote for us and the one where you can help to elect more Greens to the London Assembly, is the peach ballot paper, which is under a system of proportional representation.
London Greens' recommendation that Green supporters vote Sian 1 and Ken 2 for Mayor has also been quite widely publicised and is a position that I fully support. I'm not a huge fan of Ken and I loathe much about New Labour, but I am a pragmatist and I do believe that out of the three main parties' candidates, Ken's policies, particularly on transport, affordable housing, the London Living Wage and tackling climate change are the closest to those of the Greens. I also believe that his commitment to London and Londoners is indisputable, which I don't feel can be said for Oxfordshire MP Boris Johnson.
While Ken Livingstone as a Labour Mayor is unlikely to have enough votes to get through his budget without working with other parties on the assembly, Boris Johnson as Mayor would be likely to have the necessary third of London Assembly members' to drive through whatever budget he wanted, without any co-operation or discussion with other parties, due to the fact that many of the assembly constituency seats are safe Tory ones. So if you want to have a London Assembly with any power over the Mayor of London whatsover, there is a strong argument for giving your second vote to Ken Livingstone and voting Green on the peach ballot paper on May 1st.
Whoever you plan to vote for on May 1st, it is important that all Londoners who support a diverse, multicultural London and oppose the policies of racist, far-right parties, get out and vote on Thursday. Just as Greens only need 5% to get a seat, so do the BNP, and they came frighteningly close to it last time, with 4.8%. However, the higher the turnout and the more people vote for parties other than the BNP, the lower the danger of this happening.
For a discussion on why voting Green on the peach ballot paper might be the most effective way for voters to stop the BNP, see here. London Strategic Voter also discusses this in some depth.
Need more info?
For more on our policies for London, take a look at Sian's website, or see our full manifesto. The Observer article leader on Sunday argues the case for voting Sian 1, Ken 2. BBC article on Greens and the London Assembly. For more local discussion on the elections, see Brockley Central or Bob from Brockley. And finally, the Independent on Sunday's feature on Sian, in which I am embarassingly (but fortunately anonymously) quoted in relation to chipmunks!