Robert Rams, Head of Office for the London Assembly Conservative Group, explains why May 5th is not just about Zac vs Sadiq
With the London Mayoral Elections fast approaching and the focus of the London press solely on the election between Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, it’s easy to forget that on May 5th you get more than one vote. In fact, you get three! It’s easy to forget because no one (outside of City Hall itself!) seems to be talking about the election for the London Assembly.
With your two other votes, you get to vote for and decide the make-up of the London Assembly. With one vote you will elect your constituency Assembly Member, and with the other, you vote for your top-up, London-wide Assembly Member. In total, there are 25 Assembly Member seats up for election.
The Assembly, in the most simplistic of terms, acts as a system of checks and balances on the Mayor of London. It is their job to hold him or her to account. But this is a very simplistic view, and they do much more than that. They are the elected voice of London, representing every part of London and acting as the elector’s conduit to institutions like Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police. It is clearly wrong to think that the election to Assembly is an irrelevance.
And with changes in Government legislation, the Mayor is becoming more and more dependent on the Assembly. The Mayor’s Budget and strategies can be amended and rejected by the London Assembly if there is a two-thirds majority in favour. Without this support in the Assembly, they can easily become a lame duck Mayor.
Imagine the situation – A Labour Mayor of London is elected in May, but because of a number of political factors the number of Labour Assembly Members is only eight. With just eight Labour Assembly members, Labour will not be able to prevent the opposition parties holding a two-thirds majority, and this means that there is an opportunity for the opposition parties to amend the Labour Mayor’s plans. The Mayor would struggle to deliver his or her priorities for London and would be constantly seeking to do deals with the minority parties.
As we move forward, the role of the Assembly is only going to go from strength to strength – especially as the Mayor gets more and more powers. It is vital that their work is recognised and that the role of scrutiny is not thought to be a second-class job for an elected politician. So on May 5th – use all three votes!