Ahead of this week’s anticipated tube strike by the RMT and the TSSA, Boris Johnson has used his Telegraph column to once again call for the coalition to introduce a 50 per cent turnout threshold for industrial action (turnout was 30 per cent in the most recent RMT ballot). He writes: “We need a ballot threshold – so that at least 50 per cent of the relevant workforce has to take the trouble to vote, or else the ballot is void. That is surely the least we can ask. It is time for the Government to legislate.”
It’s an idea that Boris has been championing for years, without success (and what happened to his promise of a “no-strike deal”?), but it appears increasingly that it will be included in the next Conservative manifesto. He told the Times last month: “This is something I wanted the coalition to do from the very beginning. We haven’t been able to do that and I’m reconciled to that now. Maybe it will be in our manifesto. I think it would be good if Dave put it in. I think there’s a good chance he will.” Since it’s Boris’s brother, Jo, who will be responsible for much of the manifesto (he chairs the No. 10 policy board), the Mayor can be assumed to speak with some authority on this matter.
On the subject of a 50 per cent threshold, it’s worth noting one inconvenient truth for the Mayor: he wouldn’t have been elected (or re-elected) under his own rule. In 2008, turnout in the London mayoral election was 45 per cent, before falling to 38 per cent in 2012. If Boris wants to lecture others on this point, he might want to consider the weakness of his own mandate first.