Stop the BNP too: As well as electing a Mayor, on 1 May 2008, Londoners will be electing members to the London Assembly – the other part of the Greater London Authority. These members receive taxpayers’ money to fund their activities for the next four years in connection with the Assembly, not to mention an office and staff.
The election system for choosing these Assembly Members has two parts.
First, on a yellow ballot paper, you choose a candidate to represent your constituency, a large geographical area of London (many cover two Boroughs each). This is a straightforward vote where the candidate with the most votes in a room is elected – just like an MP.
Second, on a peach-colored ballot paper, you choose a party from a list of parties. (There are some independent candidates on this list, too but let’s not confuse things even more!) All the votes for all these parties across all of London are added up, and Assembly seats are awarded to any party with more than 5% vote. This is done proportionally, so if 20% of the votes are for the Conservatives, they will get 20% of the seats, for instance.
The key here is that to get a seat; you have to be voted for by at least 5% of Londoners who vote – one in 20. This limit is designed to keep out extremist parties.
One problem with this was in the 2004 election: the BNP got 4.9% of the vote.
This means that if just 0.1% more voters choose the BNP from this list this time, they will be given an Assembly seat!
Also, if they get a few more percent – around 7-8% in total – they’ll get a second seat, which entitles them to a taxpayer-funded office and full-time staff to promote their message of race-hate and intolerance to London for the next four years.
So, when you vote against Boris in the Mayoral election, make sure you also use the party list ballot paper to put a cross against one of the non-BNP parties there.
If you don’t know which party to go for, don’t let that put you off – pick one that you think sounds vaguely acceptable and isn’t the BNP. For instance, if you’re worried about climate change, you could like the Green Party. If you’re stuck, I don’t know… close your eyes and stick a pin in the list. Just make sure you try again if it comes up BNP.