Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
3 February 2014

Boris wouldn’t have been elected mayor under his 50% strike turnout rule

The mayor wants strikes to be banned unless 50 per cent of staff vote, but turnout in the 2012 mayoral election was just 38 per cent.

By George Eaton

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. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Content from our partners
Why competition is the key to customer satisfaction
High streets remain vitally important to local communities
The future of gas