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4 December 2007updated 27 Sep 2015 2:30am

United with Livingstone

Opposition to the BNP makes for some curious political alliances

By Brian Coleman

There is not much on which Ken Livingstone and I agree.

However we are united in our determination to ensure that next May’s election to the London Assembly do not produce one or more members of the British National Party sitting in City Hall.

The electoral system for the Assembly has 14 ‘first past the post’ constituencies and, with the current lead in the polls, the Conservatives should pick up 10 or 11 seats.

Then there are the 11 so-called ‘top up seats’ elected under a system of proportional representation named after its Belgian founder D’Hondt.

In 2004 this produced two UKIP members of the Assembly who, after less than a year, defected to Robert Kilroy-Silk’s soon forgotten egomaniac Veritas Party.

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They now sit as the the ‘One London’ Party after UKIP (in my view wisely) refused to take them back.

These two illustrate the dangers of proportional representation. One has the look of a refugee from the Haberdashery Department of John Lewis and the other (on those occasions he turns up) plays entirely to the gallery and repeats the views of whoever the last person to knobble him was. Neither member will survive next May under any banner as the poll does not coincide with the European Parliament election.

However UKIP/Veritas/One London’s reasonably harmless, usually right wing, and totally ineffective presence in the Chamber at City Hall can be contrasted with the Green Party who have used their two votes to hold the Mayor to ransom over his budget and have cleverly and adroitly used their office to promote their general political philosophy and build their power base – on Lewisham and Southwark Councils in particular.

Indeed it has been suggested that the public resources available to the Green Party at City Hall in staffing and other costs have allowed them to run an effective London-wide machine.

It is exactly this Green Party scenario that Londoners should be worried about next May in relation to the BNP.

Five percent of the vote will give the far-right party one seat and eight percent, potentially, two seats.

On top of the £50K-a-year salary paid to Assembly members and the media profile they attract, about £100,000 is currently allocated per member in much needed member support costs.

The nightmare of the BNP funding its London operation from taxpayers’ money is too ghastly to contemplate. The same applies to the fast disintegrating Respect Party and their culture of extremism, although their electoral chances are diminishing by the week.

In a perfect world no Londoner will be misguided enough to vote for extreme parties, but what would be far more sensible would be put the genie of proportional representation, an imported Continental invention and decidedly unbritish, back in the bottle and keep our traditional election system.

You have been warned!

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