Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Colorful race for Mayor in London

There are ten candidates to choose from in Thursday's Mayor election scheduled for May 1st.

Richard Barnbrook, of the British National Party, Gerard Batten, of the UK Independence Party, Sian Berry, of the Green Party, Alan Craig, of the Christian Choice Party, Lindsey German, of the Left List, Boris Johnson of the Conservative Party, Ken Livingstone, Labour Party, Winston McKenzie, Independent, Matt O’Connor, of the English Democrats and Brian Paddick, of the Liberal Democrats.

The top two contenders for the post are Borris Johnson, a member of the Conservative party and incumbent Mayor Ken Livingstone. According to London media, this is an an election that will be decided on "personalities" rather than positions on public policy or past voting behavior.

Challenger Boris Johnson has attacked Ken Livingstone's record as mayor of London. Mr Johnson accuses his rival of wasting taxpayers' money and, if elected, he vows to be an advocate for the business community, reduce crime and get more police officers on frontline duties. Odds put Johnson at 2/1.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone had five children from three different mothers, the BBC reported Thursday, adding more intrigue to London's already colorful mayoral race. Livingstone told a BBC reporter, "Clearly, I don't think anybody in this city is shocked about what consenting adults do..., "As long as you don't involve children, animals or vegetables they leave people to get on and live their own life in their own way." He also collects Newts.

Bob Sherwood, a London Journalist tells readers, "The leading challenger (Johnson) has written about “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”, while the incumbent (Livingstone) "has ­likened a Jewish newspaper reporter to a concentration camp guard..." welcome to the electoral battle to be mayor of London.

To stand as a candidate for Mayor, candidates must be 18 years old and a citizen of the U.K. European Union or Commonwealth. Candidates must also be registered to vote in London, or have lived, worked, rented or owned property in London for the last 12 months. Nominations open on March 18, 2008 and the election is held on May 1st.

Candidates are required to submit a nomination form and gather 330 signatures from people on the electoral register supporting the nomination. The signatures must come from each London borough and from the City of London. Candidates are also required to pay a deposit of 10,000, which is returned if the candidate receives more than 5% of first choice votes in the election.

If a candidate is standing for a registered political party, he/she must have a certificate from the party. A candidate not standing for a registered political party can either use the description “Independent” or have no description.

Candidates are limited to spending no more than 420,000 on their election campaigns. Expenditures are limited to party political broadcasts, advertising, unsolicited material distributed to voters, party manifestos, market research, press conferences and media, transportation during the campaign and rallies or other events.

The Mayor’s job consists of several roles: putting together plans and policies to improve the city and benefit Londoners, managing London’s government with a budget of 9 billion to run transportation services, police and fire services and promoting London’s economy.

The Mayor also works closely with London’s borough councils – who are responsible for many local services. The Mayor is not responsible for housing, schools, social services, hospitals, street cleaning, council tax rates, parking fines or permits.

Before using any of his powers, the Mayor is required to consult with Londoners. The London Assembly exists to examine and question the Mayor’s plans, decisions and to review the Mayor’s annual budget. In other words, the Assembly acts as a system of checks and balances to protect the interests of the citizens of London.

The public can question the Mayor in person twice a year at People’s Question Time.

Additional details about the election can be found here:

London Candidate’s book is here:

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