Second preference for Livingstone
The London mayoral election is unusual
because voters can vote for both a first preference, and second
preference candidate. What is more, the second preference votes are very
important, as they will determine the outcome unless one candidate wins
more than 50% outright on first preference votes.
Lindsey German is a strong candidate for
Mayor, and the RESPECT manifesto for London is imaginative and
thoughtful. Socialists should use their first preference to vote
RESPECT. The manifesto is very good because it addresses the day-to-day
issues facing Londoners, and puts forwards solutions that are socialist,
and at the same time achievable.
Ken Livingstone praised RESPECT's
campaign in the Morning Star, 29th May, saying it was "consistent
and principled" that Lindsay is calling for the second Preference
vote to go to Livingstone. He notes that this, "allows her to
campaign for her political position without risking a Tory victory".
Ken is absolutely right.
Ken is also right to point out that it
is important that it is him and not Norris who wins on June 10th.
Norris is promising to scrap the congestion charge, which despite early
misgivings does seem to work. The Tories will also reverse improvements
in bus services by relaxing requirements on frequency and reliability.
Norris also promises to increase bus fares by reducing subsidies. One of
Livingstone's most progressive policies is his requirement that 50% of
all new housing builds are "affordable"; Norris will scrap this as well.
The Lib Dems are showing their true
right-wing face in the London mayoral election, simply campaigning to
get rid of Ken. The Greens are also showing their unprincipled side by
refusing to call for a second preference for Livingstone - the Greens
consistently put short term electoral considerations for their
organisation above the interests of getting progressive environmental
policy enacted, let alone policy in the interests of working people. Do
the Greens really think that there is nothing to choose between Norris
and Livingstone? Or are they just worried that calling for second
preference for Livingstone might cost them a few right wing votes, so
they may get one less seat on the GLA.
Personally I would want to see a second
preference go to Labour, even if they were standing a right winger.
Labour is still "our side", as long as they have their links to the
unions, and as long as the majority of working class activists still
look to Labour. The Socialist Alliance were correct not to stand a
candidate in the last mayoral election, as it allowed a first preference
vote for Livingstone, who was then standing as a left of Labour
independent, and a second preference for Dobson, the official Labour
Although he has rejoined the Labour
party, we must recognise that Livingstone is a left candidate. Indeed,
Livingstone's readmission to the Labour party, pretty much on his own
terms, was a victory for the left. Ken could not have opposed the war on
Iraq more forcibly, and he has always taken a principled socialist
position in solidarity with the Irish national struggle. His policies as
London Mayor have been generally in the interests of working people, but
only within narrow limits because Ken has worked within the restricted
powers that his office allows. (His weakness has been that he has not
been prepared to confront national government to go beyond those limits,
which would have been possible over some specific policies, like tube
privatisation.) If the Tories win in London then this will be a major
defeat for the left.
Because the voting system allows a
second preference there is no danger that by standing a candidate
RESPECT will let the Tories win. It is therefore correct for RESPECT to
stand Lindsey German against Livingstone, as it gives an excellent
opportunity to publicise socialist policies, and if we get a good vote
this strengthens our hand to campaign on these policies after the
election. However, it is a weakness that RESPECT is not officially
calling for a second preference vote for Livingston - this being only
Lindsey's personal recommendation.
When it comes to a choice between
Livingstone and Norris, socialists must take sides. We must say: Vote
RESPECT first preference; Vote LABOUR second preference; Re-elect
Livingstone as mayor!