This Book Cover Reprinted In The Spirit Of Irony, And Acknowledgement Of How Time, Experience And Emotion Conspire To Make Fools And Liars Of Us All

A number of people, including m’colleague, have pointed to the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, and suggested it’s a bad thing, and that we who live in London should hang down our heads in shame.

As I think I’ve said before, I’m registered to vote, but find none of the candidates credible or worthy of my vote, and there’s no ‘None Of The Above’ option on the ballot paper for me to express that dissatisfaction; indeed, if you spoil your voting paper, not only do you slow the count down for people who have voted, but your spoiled paper is discounted from the final ‘adjusted’ figures as if it was never there. So, consider me disenfranchised.

And please don’t give me any of that ‘if you don’t vote you can’t complain’ piffle – I consider myself eminently placed to complain both about the system which excludes me, and the calibre of the candidates. As a vegetarian of many years standing, I compare it to a restaurant which doesn’t offer a veggie option. Am I allowed to say I think that restaurant’s limited in its offerings? I think that only the most rabid of carnivores would say no.

I think it was very much an election of personalities, with Londoners deciding that they’d rather see how the possibly racist candidate fared in office, as opposed to the present incumbent with his apparent tendency to compare people to nazis. Well, when I say ‘Londoners’, I mean less than half of those registered to vote, as the turnout was just under 50%. Hardly what you’d call a mandate.

Of course, the people who stand to lose the most from Johnson’s election to power are also those who are currently most happy about it – and by that, of course, I mean the Evening Standard newspaper. Even to my politically uninterested eye, they’ve been blatantly anti-Livingstone all the way (and yesterday’s front cover relegated the news that 20,000 people may be dead in Burma in favour of a large picture of Boris cycling to work), so they’re currently very pleased to have their candidate in office. But the way they’ve pimped him so shamelessly and built up expectations of enormous change sweeping through London has to be hopelessly unrealistic. Boris will, like all politicians, make mistakes and suffer setbacks to his plans and all the usual stuff which is wheeled out whenever election pledges aren’t met, and I think the staff of the Evening Standard are likely to have something of a rude awakening.

Being the gullible dupe I am, of course, I’ve been taken in completely by their support and outrageous claims for Johnson, and firmly believe that there is nothing at all which will stand in Boris’s way. So by the time the Olympics come to London in 2012, I expect the city to be paved with crushed diamonds, the toilets to flush champagne, and for the skyline to have been transformed into something out of the Jetsons.

I mean, it’s not as if politicians and/or the media have ever lied to me before, is it ?

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7 Comments

  1. If you “find none of the candidates credible or worthy of my vote”, you have a very simple remedy – stand yourself. If you don’t want the job, find someone you do consider worthy of your vote, persuade them to stand and then campaign hard for their election.

    “None of the above” is wholly negative and achieves absolutely nothing. My advice proponents of NOTA is “Put up, or shut up”.

  2. Saying “None of the Above” is wholly negative is rather a non-thought out comment to my mind and one of someone who is a bit hung up on Boris (and not in a good way), doesn’t live in London to feel the aftermath of his inevitable mistakes and lies and so really rather mis-placed.

    “Put up or Shut Up” seems to me to be a childish outlash and discriminatory statement! I thought we were living in a country where we had freedom of speech? Maybe it’s time to grow up a little Edinburgh, your Boris got in so be happy!

  3. Can’t help agreeing with Juliette. It’s easy to say stand yourself but many people have other rewarding careers that they have spent years training for. Do we not have a right to expect professional politicians to be, er, professional ? Your argument is a bit like saying ‘if you don’t like your Doctor, then jolly well qualify as a Doctor yourself’.

  4. Juliette, your assessment of my personal political views is extremely wide of the mark. I just hope for the sake of all Londoners and the rest of the UK that Boris Johnson can now assemble a team around him that can take London forward.

    There is nothing childish or outlash or discriminatory in my statement “Put up, or Shut up”. It was, and is, said only in the specific context of a call for “None of the above” to be added to ballot papers. And it is not targeted at London or Londoners – I would say it, and have said it, to NOTA proponents anywhere in the world.

    It is not in any way an attack on the freedom of speech. I just deplore the negative attitude of those who snipe from the sidelines and denigrate those who are prepared to put themselves forward as candidates for election to public office at any level – no small undertaking in today’s hostile world.

    What I want to see in all public elections is the use of voting systems that encourage electors to vote for what they really want. But the “None of the above” brigade are not even interested in that – they just want to snipe and denigrate instead of trying to make a positive contribution to improving our systems of representative democracy.

  5. I can certainly see why Juliette assumed you were happy with the result of the election, Edinburgh – it’s like the way that people invariably argue that World Cup matches being decided on penalties is either fair or unfair depending on whether or not it serves their chosen team. This is often the case with party politics – rightly or wrongly, the Lib Dems’ support for Proportional Representation instead of the present system is often seen as being related to the fact they’d have probably have more seats in Parliament if it was implemented.

    I certainly couldn’t see myself standing for election, or urging anyone to do so; putting aside the tactical disadvantages which independent candidates have (for example, the need for a deposit to stand, which is ostensibly to discourage ‘frivolous candidates’, the definition of which was decided by the main parties and then enacted into legislation), it seems to be nigh-on impossible for even the most sincerely well-intentioned person to stand for parliament (or a similar role) without in some way becoming corrupted or otherwise tainted. There’s a line in the film version of Primary Colo(u)rs about how the political game is seen as the only game in town, but I (like the character in the film who refers to it) don’t feel I want to play it, and I certainly wouldn’t want to urge other people to play it either.

    I fear that the problem goes more deeply than the issue of electoral systems themselves, and more to the ‘culture’ of party politics itself; I wouldn’t pretend that my dissatisfaction with the candidates on offer is necessarily echoed to the extent that the entire 50% of non-voters in the Mayoral elections all share my views, but I think it’s probable that there are many who are as disenchanted with the politicians who purport to represent us, and by association the electoral system that put them in place; when something like a million people march against the Iraq war and are ignored but a fraction of that number march in support of continuing foxhunting and see a result (even if only short-lived) in their favour, I think it’s bound to have an effect on the credibility of the political process as a whole.

    Whilst the economic theory of a trickledown doesn’t seem to work at all, I think that the behaviour of politicians – who spend so much time preaching about morality and values, and are all too often caught with their hand in the till or someone’s underwear or other forms of lying or deception – sends a very real, and negative, message about what’s acceptable in society.

    If I recall correctly, the issue of a NOTA ballot option was rejected by the Electoral Commission about six years ago on the grounds that it was – as you say, Edinburgh – a negative way of expressing an opinion. I can see why this might be seen to be the case, though people such as myself who have fundamental questions about the way that elections and politics alike work do thus end up rather lacking a voice. Then again, people who vote for a local MP who says they’ll oppose the building of a supermarket (for example) in the area, but then vote along party lines rather than representing their constituents are ultimately just as lacking in representation, so I guess my position may, in practical terms, be experienced by many people who do find a candidate they can support on election day.

    As I understand it, there are several countries around the world that have a NOTA option in various elections, though they may not be national or presidential level ones. I don’t know offhand if there are any discernible links between the presence of this option on the ballot paper and the voter turnout? I guess a control test with Before and After would be needed.

    Appreciate being challenged on my opinions though, Edinburgh – makes me have to mull them over to make sure that I can put them in words in an order that hopefully makes the underlying ideas clear.

  6. Don’t you know the rules? NEVER talk politics or religion, that’s how wars start. Online definitely and offline most probably.

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if there were no politicians in the world? There’d be no war… Just us kicking each other’s heads in for whatever we want whenever we want it! No labels. Nice.

    Personally I cannot see how Boris can be any worse than Red Ken. they both suck, mind you. But in the absence of anything else, a change is as good as a rest???

    Please carry on now and make assumptions about my character, abilities, etc on the basis of that btw. (This is why politics doesn’t work – it’s only a popularity contest and the best thing in the absence of ANYTHING else… Apart from kicking each others’ heads in)

  7. Give your name, Evil, it seems slightly redundant of me to make any assumptions…
    J

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