Saturday, May 7, 2016

Some thoughts on the results

It is a good thing that I made no predictions as the only one that other people made that came true was Sadiq Khan becoming Mayor of London. I did say that it was unlikely for UKIP to get three seats in the London Assembly and I was right. They now have two, Peter Whittle and David Kurten, one more than the Lib-Dims, which says something about the latter. The Greens also have two members (as they always did) but they seem to have got more votes. None of it matters in the slightest as the Assembly has no real power and role beyond writing reports nobody reads and have its members prance around in all importance.

I wish the UKIP members luck but I have no clear idea what they intend to achieve - the London Assembly has no control over immigration; nor will it have any even if we come out of the EU. As that seemed to be their only campaigning issue I cannot quite envisage their future political activity.
The last time there were two UKIP members in the Assembly, Damian Hockney and Peter Hulme-Cross in 2004, there was a split in the party very soon after the election. The UKIP group became Veritas under the leadership of Robert Kilroy-Silk, then One London without him. It continued to be One London until it was voted out in 2008. The basis of the split, readers of this blog will not be surprised, was personal clashes between the UKIP/Veritas/One London group and the Dear Leader of UKIP, who is still there in that position. [I was there and could tell many tales.] Judging from this year's election campaign, the same problems will not arise with the latest UKIP Asssembly Members but, of course, one can never tell.

One thing did intrigue me: the UKIP mayoral candidate's somewhat poorer performance than predicted by himself and many others. Instead of third, he came fifth. Was that because he had allowed the Dear Leader to muscle in on the campaign? Well, he can't say I didn't warn him. 

There is some jubilation about the fact that More Britons Voted For Sadiq Khan Directly Than Any Politician In British History. This is a meaningless statistic as London is the largest place for direct voting. We vote directly for MPs but no constituency is as large as London and neither is any other city with a Mayor. As it happens the turn-out was still 45.30%, exactly the same as it was in 2008. Of that 56.90% voted for Khan, which still makes it only 25.78%, just over a quarter of London's electorate. As it happens, there are constituencies where the winning MP gets more than a quarter of the electoral vote.

Altogether Sadiq Khan got 1,310,143 votes; in 2008, with the same turn-out, Boris Johnson got 1,168,738 votes, undoubtedly the highest number at the time of what any British politician had got in a direct vote. I do not recall anybody mentioning this.

It has also been pointed out to me by a reader of this blog that it is not " right to give the winner credit for 56.9%. That's on the basis of his 1st and 2nd preference votes. But what is a 2nd preference vote?" What, indeed? Ought we have a two turn election - with the top two having a run-off vote a week later? I do not think even that will bring the turn-out to over 50%.

I shall pass over the various predictions, both of the horrified kind (a Muslim elected Mayor of "one of the major European cities") and of the cheerful, happy-clappy kind (we have a working Mayor who will deal with issues and not be an international star). There are very few issues the Mayor can deal with and with the ones he can Mr Khan's promises bode ill: he is unlikely to stand up to the transport unions, he wants to control Uber and anything else he can lay his hands on, he has not explained how he is going to be able to afford a freeze on transport fares and so on, and so on. I fear the worst, not because he is a Muslim (is that really worse than a buddy of Yussuf al-Qaradawi or of the IRA leaders, as Ken Livingstone was and is, of course) but from his stupid, ignorant socialist ideas. I rather suspect that the new Mayor is going to be more cautions than our Ken about whom he will invite to City Hall and with whom he will share a platform as he is looking to a post-London political career.

Meanwhile, what of Zac Goldsmith, the loser? He was chosen as candidate because the Conservatives, knowing that London does incline to be pro-Labour, wanted another charismatic person, like Boris. Zac's main rival, Syed Kamall, a good chap and very sound in his politics, appeared to lack charisma (and, I was told quietly by his own supporters, performed poorly on the hustings). In hindsight, the party should have realized that Kamall had one enormous advantage: he, too, was the son of a bus driver, though he did not grow up on a council estate. His parents bought a house and let out rooms. These were the two points with which Saddiq Khan started every single statement, speech and piece of electoral literature. It worked. People voted for him. Probably they would have voted for Syed Kamall as well.

There seems to be a general assumption that Zac Goldsmith's campaign was terrible, lacklustre and negative at the same time. Here is Tim Montgomerie putting the boot into Lynton Crosby, who has just been knighted. His opinion is that Zac should have campaigned as himself (an already known quantity) not as a Lynton Crosby candidate and there is a great deal to that. We certainly saw nothing of that charisma for which he was chosen though, I have to add, Saddiq Khan's campaign was also dull as ditchwater as was that of most of the other candidates.

Andrew Roberts thinks differently and blames the Consrevatives who sniffed nastily and distanced themselves from Zac when he attacked Saddiq Khan for sharing a platform with some very foul people, indeed. This was turned into Islamophobia by people like Andrew Boff, who had lost to Zac in the nominations and the ghastly Baroness Warsi as well as a number of commentators. I agree with Mr Roberts: in itself there is nothing wrong with pointing these facts out but there ought to have been more. A couple of interesting comments from Andrew Roberts's piece:
Full disclosure: I know and like Zac, contributed to his campaign financially and – despite not agreeing with much of his green agenda – was proud to be among the more than 994,000 people who voted for him last Thursday. That total was not that much fewer than the 1.3 million who voted for Sadiq Khan in what has been a pretty uniformly Labour city since before the 1970s, once the unique personal phenomenon of Boris Johnson is taken out of the equation.
When Baroness (Sayeeda) Warsi – a semi-detached Tory at the best of times, though still nominally one – then also jumped on the bandwagon and denounced Zac on Twitter as “Britain’s Biggest Bigot” for his “Dog-whistle, nasty politics”, it was clear that the Left was having its job done for it by Zac’s fellow Conservatives. Ditto Ken Clarke’s negative comments on Zac’s campaign. In fact, Zac was perfectly right to point out, for example, that Khan had employed someone who believed that Private Lee Rigby’s murder was fabricated.

Of course these people will have to eat their words over the coming months and years when Sadiq Khan’s former political acquaintances continue to spout their repulsive Islamist comments about the subservience of woman and the evils of homosexuality, whereupon Zac’s warnings about Khan’s lack of judgement will be proven right. His denunciation of Khan “giving platform, oxygen and cover to extremists” will be seen as prophetic, and we’ll see if the likes of Boff, Warsi and Clarke – and indeed Zac’s own sister Jemima – are then big enough to admit it.

I predict that the day is not far off when many more than 994,000 people will wish they had voted for Zac Goldsmith.
I cannot imagine any circumstance in which people like Baroness Warsi will admit that they are wrong.

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