Today I announced my recommendation for a “Sian 1, Ken 2” vote for Mayor of London this year, and here I want to explain why.
I’ll start by making it clear that Ken Livingstone is not my first choice for Mayor of London. I am my first choice for Mayor of London – more than anything London needs a real Green Mayor. But voters in this election do have two votes on the Mayoral ballot paper, and the way in which my supporters use their second votes could well be decisive on 1 May.
London faces a double threat in the next 43 days. First, we have the threat of Boris Johnson. As Mayor, he would prove to be a disaster for London, even on his own. But second, we also have the threat of a Tory monopoly over London.
For the past four years, Ken Livingstone has had to negotiate and compromise, because he has had to win votes from another party to pass his budget. Each year, the Greens on the London Assembly have driven a hard bargain and we have made significant progress in a number of social and environmental areas.
Boris Johnson, in contrast, would come with a built-in Tory majority, enabling him to do anything he likes over the heads of a powerless opposition in the Assembly.
And the truth is that what Boris Johnson likes is not what you or I like. He doesn’t share Londoners’ values; in fact in many ways he seems to hate them.
He hates that we celebrate each other’s heritage; he hates that we are trying to pass on a healthy environment to our children; he hates that we look after our most vulnerable neighbours; and most of all he hates that we all expect to share in our city’s financial success. And if he is elected he will do his best to dismantle and destroy all of that.
He stands for scrapping affordable housing requirements and abandoning higher charges for gas guzzlers. He opposed the minimum wage and the Kyoto treaty. He has tried to hoodwink London over airport expansion and he was a cheerleader for the war in Iraq. Johnson is no joke, and I cannot bear the thought of London under his cruel and careless control.
I’ll be the first to admit that Ken Livingstone isn’t perfect. I am, after all, standing against him and am deadly serious about wanting to replace him. I have spoken out on a number of occasions about my reservations. The Thames Gateway motorway bridge remains a dreadful plan that he won’t give up, and at hustings I’ve repeatedly expressed my concerns about his plans for jobs and economic development.
But he has shown again his willingness to negotiate over this last point and, under tough questioning from Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson at Mayor’s Question Time last week, he made new commitments to look again at how we can develop new industries in London to meet the challenges we face in the future, rather than rely solely on the financial services industry for our prosperity.
And despite all Ken Livingstone’s faults, the fact remains that putting Boris Johnson in charge would be so much worse.
London Greens share my view. So, as a party, we have decided to recommend that our supporters give their second vote for Mayor to Ken Livingstone not Boris Johnson. And of course we also welcome Ken Livingstone’s recommendation to his voters to give their second votes to the Greens.
So, if you care about having a fair London – socially and environmentally – and you want a Mayor who is accountable, not uncontrollable, you should vote for more Greens on the Assembly, then vote for me first for Mayor and use your insurance vote for Ken Livingstone.