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Tuesday, 30 November, 1999, 13:53 GMT
Should the London Mayor race be scrapped?
The position of an executive Mayor should be scrapped - not because of these fiascos, rather because it is neither right nor truly democratic to concentrate power in one person.
Alister McClure, London, UK
Scrap it? Oh no this is wonderful theatre! Anything that ruffles the feathers of the sanctimonious is fine by me.
Chris Barlow-Smith, UK
The fight to become Mayor of London has attracted more than its fair share of scandal - do you think it's worth continuing?
Why do we need more jobs for corrupt, inept politicians. Blair's government is costing the taxpayer billions, just so there can be more of his and his mates. WE DONT WANT MORE POLITICIANS
Dave Morgan, UK
I really am tired of all these apparently big chiefs fighting each other for positions best served by competent councillors who have represented the various constituencies for years. People who have more contact with the grass root realities and requirements than those who have long forgotten their roots and the people at root or street level. We would all be better served by those who live amongst us and know us and live and have lived locally for a great many years, some all of their lives. Power mongers and power wielders should not be involved!
Anthony Carpenter, UK
Scrap it? You must be joking - let's wheel it out across the big cities ASAP - then at last there'll be some real interest in local government and real scrutiny of the people running our big cities.
John Williams , UK
Who Cares Who wins! I don't, I don't live in London and have no interest in what happens there. I'm tired of the media focusing on London, it's the same with the BBC's local news its all London.
Martin Adams, UK
It is fast becoming a joke, the Labour party want to stop the "people's" choice from getting the nod from the selection committee. The Conservative party wanted to select a person who has been caught several times lying.
In short the Labour selection committee are trying to find a reason not to select the people's choice, the Conservative party wanted a crook to go for the position. There is only one phrase that comes to mind - it is a farce. Scrap it before it is too late.
Simon Hearn, UK
If no one else can decide on the candidates or have policies it might as well be scrapped. It hasn't really inspired anyone with enough confidence to vote for anyone anyway, apart from perhaps the Liberal candidate and no one can remember her name. But it does give those of us who voted against it in the referendum a reason to gloat.
Rachel Jones, UK
Who cares!! Why does the rest of the country have to be bombarded every year with The Lord Mayor of London parade on TV and now constant media coverage about an election. I would imagine most Londoner's don't care let alone people north of Watford.
Arch Stanton, North of England
I definitely feel that the election of the Lord Mayor of London should be de-politicised. It would be a far more healthy election if it were.
The idea of a mayor of London is a further threat to the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty. How long will it be before London asks for more powers from Parliament and we develop regional assemblies. This government proves to have taken a radical line on constitutional reform without thinking of the consequences. In my opinion the Mayor represents the final step to radicalism.
Sarah Cross, Britain
It should be scrapped until the political parties stop getting involved. A London mayor should be completely independent.
The criteria has been set...the candidates need to be to be good role models in general and have qualities and beliefs that everyone can relate to. It is tricky, it takes time, but if the media rip every candidate to shreds, we will end up with no-one! - Time is short - Get on with it!
It is time to stop wasting more time and money on this. Ken Livingstone knows what Londoners want, just appoint him and have done with it.
London needs a Mayor - take a look at the pathetic state of the local London authorities who are by circumstance incapable of responding to the local needs of London and London regions. It may not solve all our problems, but abandoning the possibility of change for the better simply because one or two people are by no means perfect seems to be an alarmist and ill-conceived reaction.
T. Robson, England
I think a London mayor is a great idea. Ken Livingstone has plenty of unfinished business in London, and I reckon whoever the Tories put up, he'll win. This is a man who really had visionary ideas as head of the GLC. He was criticised for talking to the terrorists, for being pro-gay rights and for doing something about congestion in London and improving access to public transport.
These are all things that are top of the agenda today, and his bond-issue plan for funding tube investment is really sensible. And he's popular! In fact, "Red" Ken could stand for any party and still get elected as Mayor. We must keep this post open for people like Ken who could really make a difference.
Jon Mainwaring, UK
My feeling is that The House of Commons should become the English parliament once again and that a reformed House of Lords should become effectively a Senate for the UK.
Iain Millett, UK
Further to Roy Mathews' suggestion of Mrs. Thatcher, why don't the Tories go the whole hog and choose General Pinochet? His record may be unsavoury, but surely less murky than some of the contenders. And he lives in London!
Vince Mosdall, UK
I think this is completely outrageous that the mayor of London has to be from a political party. Can anybody have opinions and judgement without belonging to any political party. Get the politics out and let all the people vote for a mayor that they would choose themselves. My vote would go for Richard Branson.
D N James, UK
It is absurd to ask whether or not the contest should be scrapped. The Greater London Authority Act is now law, and to repeal it would be a criminal waste of money and Parliamentary time. The Act contains specific duties for the Mayor to provide high standards of services of all kinds across London. He or she cannot get away with being lazy or incompetent! They are subject, after all, to a majority vote of the new Greater London Assembly, and in some respects to the Secretary of State. This is not merely an "idea", as one correspondent says, it is on the statute books! You're going to get a Mayor whether you like it or not.
Chris Cox, UK
Can everyone here knocking Londoners bear in mind, if we had true power, we'd want our income tax back that was spent in your area. If Scotland can devolve, with a population of some 5 million, then how about London, with a population of over 8 million, declaring itself an independent state, withdrawing from the EU and ceasing to fund Scotland's Welfare State!
We must be the laughing stock of the entire world. I feel so ashamed of the way our so called `heavyweight' politicians have behaved over this mayoral fiasco. Why can't they remember that they are simply servants of the people.
Not sure if the Mayoral race should be scrapped. A more important question is how can a liar who has had the whip withdrawn and looks like he is about to be expelled by his party and may be facing criminal charges be allowed to sit in the House of Lords? A certain Member for Tatton got kicked out of the Commons for similar actions. What can we do about members of an undemocratic, unelected Gentlemens club?
Steve Gamage, UK
It is correct to have an elected Mayor of London. However why does it have to be a dyed in the wool politician. The same old problems of empire building, cronyism and sleaze will permeate the system and organisation. Maybe its time to have new blood in the contest. Someone who doesn't know how the "system" is supposed to work. Perhaps then London, followed by the other large cities of the UK, will get people who care about the job more than their self-satisfied selves.
David Wilson, England
Watching this fiasco, I just can't wait until we in Liverpool have a chance to choose our own Mayor, we'll try to make it as interesting as the Red Ken/Archer debacle, promise!
Dave Williams, UK
The possibility for a Mayor of London (and an authority, although your contributors seem to have forgotten that) is radical in theory and potentially far-reaching in practice. In fact, how the whole thing pans out will undoubtedly affect demand for similar frameworks for more of our great cities. The creation of an elected Mayor instills democracy into the heart of the nation's capital, the only one in the EU without any democratic overall authority. If anything, the pickle both parties are in demonstrates the importance of the post - not that it should be scrapped - What an unimaginative proposal! Anyone who looks at the last few weeks and then suggests the status quo must have a screw loose! I notice the complete lack of any other serious proposals out there, to tackle any of London's problems or to do anything new for Londoners. Seeing through all the froth of the last few weeks, when both important parties sort out their mess over nominations, we'll have a rollicking good election fight and all the doubt will magically disintegrate.
Craig Beaumont, London, UK
Meg McNair, UK
Where is Dick Whittington when we need him? I would like to propose looking beyond the current slate of candidates for someone who is totally honest, intelligent and personable and who have a proven track record dealing in an unblinkered way with the problems and opportunities presented by a large urban centre. I believe that Peter Woods, former Mayor of Bromley would fit the bill in all respects. And no doubt there are many other eminently suitable individuals who are worthy of consideration, in place of the incredibly inept slate currently under consideration. London deserves better.
Merrill Drzymala, Canada
Dave Lock, UK
Since the people's most popular choice for Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, probably won't even be selected by the Labour Party as their candidate, why don't the Tories put Mr Livingstone forward as their representative ?
Alan Ridgway, UK
The election of a Mayor is a total waste of taxpayers' money. The candidates from the 3 major parties will be bound by manifestos written by their masters in Whitehall. The only budget partially under the mayor's control will be that of the salaries of the cronies employed by the new authority. This is yet more bureaucracy invented by Blair who wants Londoners to believe that we will have more direct control over the way we are governed.
Tony Ellis, England
No matter who wins the Mayoral election London will get the Mayor it deserves. London is a political sewer where back-stabbing, double-dealing and corruption are the norm so in that sense Archer would have been an ideal candidate (especially for the Tories). I'm only surprised he was found out so soon.
Lets really enjoy ourselves and get Maggie Thatcher to run for the Conservatives. That would really start the fireworks.
Roy Matthews, England
I was dead keen when the announcement was made that there would be a London Mayor. I assumed, wrongly, that it would be apolitical. How disappointed I am that it has boiled down the same old inter-party squabble instead of focusing on the issues. I am disappointed that there are no true independents in the run. I would be much more likely to be enthusiastic about it.
Paul Churchley, UK
The mayoral fight should never have been allowed to have a party political stance. The Labour position is laughable - all candidates must abide by the diktat of Milbank, rather than being independent-minded individuals! At least the Tory candidates all had their own manifestos. I certainly don't feel that the Tory position has been damaged with regard to their chances in getting a successful candidate, and let's face it, love him or loathe him, Jeffrey Archer has always been popular (loveable rogue syndrome). I do hope that whomsoever is chosen, they are their own person, not bound by their obedience to their Master, but to the people of London. Now as to whether or not the Assembly will be a complete waste of time ...
Douglas Brown, UK
Yes, the position of an executive Mayor should be scrapped - but not because of these fiascos, rather because it is neither right nor truly democratic to concentrate power in one person. The powers should be with the Greater London Assembly not with the Mayor. The strong mayor/ weak assembly model might be an "efficient" way of making decisions but is not likely to the best way of making good ones. In a diverse, pluralist society, GOOD decisions are most likely to be made in the discussions of a group of elected people. Therefore, a strong assembly is London's best option.
Alister McClure, UK (London)
I won't be voting as the result is very predictable. The mayor will simply be a Tony Blair clone controlled from the number 10 power base. However, the thought of Ken 'IRA supporter' Livingstone getting elected is extremely worrying.
It would be a shame to scrap the contest just because the two largest political parties are experiencing difficulties in selecting their candidates. If Londoners are unhappy with Labour and the Tories maybe they should register this by voting for somebody else. It would also prove useful if the major media channels, such as the BBC, started to give more time to the other candidates. For example who is Susan Kramer" and what are her polices? Lets leave two large donkeys in the stable and get on some horses that can run.
Michael Brown, UK
Londoner (myself included) were asked whether we wanted a directly elected mayor. We said 'yes'. The fact that the process has end Lord Archer's political career can only be a bonus!
James Roberts, UK (part of the EU)
Someone needs to be given the power to fix London's problems - why not a mayor?
Adam E Cath, New Zealand
With a little bit of arm twisting Ken Livingstone has now agreed to support the party manifesto. But as this has not yet been written what does this say for freedom of speech? How can we place trust in anyone who will offer to support the unknown.
David James, UK
Lets face it - they are all corrupt. Shoot 'em all, bloody politicians. And two faced, look at the way Archer's mate has set him up. Bring on the revolution.
Mike England, UK
Scrap it? Oh no this is wonderful theatre! Anything that ruffles the feathers of the sanctimonious is fine by me.
Chris Barlow-Smith, UK
Scrap the whole contest or choose an apolitical figure not connected with either party. This whole affair has highlighted just how ridiculous and media-driven UK politics has become.
So what are we left with The Liberal Candidate (can't even remember her name) Glenda (I was once an actress you know) Jackson and some failed Health Secretary. Hardly the type of candidates for the most powerful Municipal position in Europe. Why not just face facts, whoever we get now is going to toe the (Labour) party line. Why doesn't Blair just install one of his Cronies without an election. This is going to be the result, so let's save the Election costs.
Roy Chapman, UK / Germany
Scrap it here and now! We Londoners don't want it and the politicians clearly can't be trusted to sort it out. Stop the waste of good taxpayers money now!
Richard Smith, UK
So why do only politicians get a look-in? Since none of them are up to it, how about conducting a straw poll of alternatives? To start with - Richard Branson? Prince Charles? Kevin Keegan?
Roy Marsh, Singapore
Of course not! It's the most entertaining political spectacle this country has seen since the Bermondsey by-election!
Graham Day, South Vietnam
This is a typical example of a badly thought through Campbell/Blair populist stunt. Unfortunately it will as many of their other ridiculous initiatives cost the Taxpayer millions.
Keith Stuart, England
Dave Godfrey, UK
The main parties' farcical selection processes have succeeded in making a mockery of the role of Mayor. It is clear that the position should be apolitical. Any person who has held membership to any political party in the past 10 years should be barred from standing. Serving MPs have made a pledge to their voters and cannot just give up their seats because another job looks more attractive.
M. Stokes, UK
Scrap the Mayor race? So far it's proved more entertaining than any other political event this year - let's keep it.
Steve N, UK
If nothing else, the race for London Mayor has helped to show us just how far the Labour party will go to twist and manipulate to try to get the results they want. As a now ex-Labour voter, it's been an eye-opening experience.
Andy Bannister, UK
Londoners are a bunch of good-for-nothing moaners anyway, so give them something to moan about. Give them a mayor, but let the residents of Exeter decide who it should be. Either that or send all the candidates out in front of a pack of hounds and give the job to the last one standing. It really doesn't matter about Jeffrey Archer because everyone knew he was dodgy anyway. He didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting in. Look at Sydney - we almost ended up with Nick Farr-Jones.
Richard Baldry, Australia (ex England)
Why are we so concerned about Lord Archer? I am more worried about Ken Livingstone's communist policies.
The principle of the post is long overdue, it is the arrogance of certain politicians and parties that have turned it into a farce. The Tories bled London dry while they were in power, yet they expected us to forget their recent history and vote for someone who drifts in a social orbit few Londoners can relate to. They have only themselves to blame for Archer's fall.
The control freaks of the Millbank tendency insist they know best as to who we really want better than we do. It would be hard to create a more obviously undemocratic internal election system were Saddam Hussein the Labour Chairman. At least Ken Livingstone has shown commitment to the cause of London, both in the GLC, and Westminster and isn't simply jumping on the bandwagon at the last moment. The opinion polls suggest he is the man the locals want; who are the government to deny them?
Mark Woodward, London, UK
No the mayoral race should not be scrapped. Just find a proper set of candidates, one that can produce a London counterpart of Guiliani. Ask New Yorkers what a good and resolute mayor can do for a city
G.H. Deere, United States
So far it's knocked off one more Tory, and embarrassed Blair. If I were a British taxpayer I'd say money well spent.
Colin Danby, USA
I don't think that the London mayor's race should be scrapped because it will deprive the people of the opportunity to choose who will govern them and will subvert democracy.
Scrapped? Just when it's getting interesting? NO WAY!!
If we're going to scrap the contest on the grounds of the candidates being corrupt, why don't we also dissolve Parliament and create a new government based around a dictatorship of nuns and monks? And is it fair to tar the other mayoral candidates with the same brush?
Ed Bayley, USA (English)
Yes. The restoration of a devolved government, in the form of the Greater London Authority, is a welcome change. The creation of a directly-elected mayor, however, can only lead to trouble. In all likelihood, the post will be abused by megalomaniacs with broader political ambitions, as suggested by the French and American examples. The current farcical selection debacles (Tory and Labour) merely foreshadow things to come.
So far, we've had Blair humiliated by Livingstone, Archer forced to resign and Hague's judgement shown to be absurd. If this is what the Mayor's election produces, let's have an election monthly.
Perhaps it's time to introduce a new rule to the process. Let's exclude MPs altogether and make it a popular election with a difference.
H Thompson, UK
Scrap the London Mayor elections? Far from it! This is a delicious farce for us in the North. The only way that anybody will be elected London Mayor is when one of the candidate starts acting up as Blair's Baby. Only the 'Aaaahhhh' factor is going to save this contest now. Imagine Dobbo in nappies with those chubby cheeks. Red Ken getting even redder. Glenda bawling out her lungs like the little actress she is. Now all we need is a toe sucking Tory candidate to complete this political picture of innocence. As for the Lib Dems there candidate may actually be left holding the baby. Shades of Kramer verus Kramer no doubt!
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland
The current shambles reflects the internal difficulties of both Labour and Tory parties - it's interesting to note that only the Lib Dems, with strong internal democratic traditions, has a candidate at the moment!
Edna Murphy, UK
Is this an issue of democracy, or simply a question of how noble is the nobility?
No please don't scrap the Mayoral race, its the funniest election I have seen in decades.
Teresa Pearce, UK
Although I'm no fan of the Tories, I can't help but feel sorry for them. The fact is that many people from all parties are just "trying to do their bit" and the damage this sort of thing causes must completely demoralise them. Archer was an accident waiting to happen. Let's hope we can put all this behind us quickly and get on with electing a mayor to do an important job.
Guy Liddell, UK
We all have something to hide. It only really makes a difference to most people when the truth is about a figure they "trust".
Neil Rose, UK
It would be a great shame if the contest were to be abandoned, after all the entertainment it's given to thousands of ordinary people. If Ken were to succeed in his candidature, then Archer would have stood no chance with the London electorate. However, with Archer gone the Millbank Tendency may now try to railroad a more 'acceptable' choice, given that there is no heavyweight opposition from the other parties. The excitement is only just beginning...
Hywel Owen, UK
Rich Johnston, UK
It seems that Ken Livingstone is the only one suitable for this job, he did a great fob of running the GLC and should be given another chance to run London - his way, not just Blair's way.
David McGrath, United States/Scotland
Just because a right-wing conservative has been forced to drop out of the race is no reason to cancel the democratic process.
Patrick E. Cooley, Canada
Why elect a "political" mayor at all? London would be better represented and managed by someone who holds the interest of the city and it's unique population as the main issue. I can't see that being made easier by allegiance to either an incumbent government or an aspiring opposition, of whatever hue.
Archie Galbraith, USA
The Archer affair illustrates that the Tory party is a long way from gaining the trust of the electors. It shows the moral fibre of its leading members and the lack of judgement of its leader.
Richard Nash, UK
Why not stop all this nonsense, save the taxpayers money and just give the job to Ken Livingstone. Because ultimately he is the man for the job, whichever party he represents!
How many layers of representation (with all the inherent bureaucracy and waste of public funds) does a society need to be governed. What will become apparent is that for a huge jump in expenditure only certain sections of Britain will be represented at all levels by often incompetent and greedy, self-centred or party-dominated petty politicians. When will it stop?
Much like the Australians 'spoiled' their vote to become a republic because they were unhappy with the way their president would be chosen, so we should do the same. The whole process has become yet another high stakes political football with the needs of Londoners taking backseat to party politics. A mayor is necessary but 'none of the above' thanks.
Asif Khan, UK
So few Londoners voted in the referendum to have a Mayor of London, does the position therefore have any real mandate from the people? Also, the bad publicity in the media has done nothing to enhance the role of the Mayor of London to the public. Therefore is there any real reason to continue along the road to an elected Mayor of London?
Chris Ashley, Britain
These teething troubles are no reason to suggest that the mayoral race might be postponed or the contest scrapped altogether. We must not let them blind us to the real need for a mayor: Currently London is the only one of the world's top 20 'mega-cities' to lack one.
David Shariatmadari, UK
Of course it should not be scrapped. You do not abandon elections because the candidates are not up to much. That would be like stopping eating altogether because you ate some food which was off.
Graham Lippiatt, UK
Situation Report Archer; no principles Tories; no change Hague; no future
Lester Dinnie, UK
Lying disingenuous politicians are, and will be, like the poor, always with us. Democracy must go on regardless. A free press/media is our strongest aid.
J. Geoghegan, Canada
City mayors around the world have for decades either been political poodles of their Parliamentary masters, riddled with corruption, ineffective due to lack of influence, or in many cases, all three. Perhaps Tony Blair should have looked around the world at other systems and have foreseen the likely consequences of what he was proposing. It is certainly time to think again about the whole thing.
W. M. Phillips, UK
The Tories bit the bullet and held an open vote to select their candidate. Once the result was in, their leadership had little choice but to rally round their man. The real fools here are those ordinary Tory members who mistook celebrity for ability and honesty. Meanwhile, Tony Blair does everything short of slipping piranhas in the newt-tank to keep Ken Livingstone off the ballot paper. Unlike poor William Hague, he is obviously under no illusions as to the ability of his own grass roots to pick the right man. As Henry Kissinger once said of the Iran-Iraq war, "It's a shame they can't both lose". Who's the Liberal candidate again?
Sean Stack, France
Scrap the idea, it attracts the wrong sort...look at the candidates! The 'mandate' is too big for a British democracy.
F. Walton, UK
Regardless of who gets in, we'll either get London run from Number 10 (as it is now) or continual conflict which won't do anybody any good. I certainly won't bother voting.
People who wish to scrap the whole process cant stand the heat of the political kitchen. This has revived interest in local government and that can only be a good thing.
Marc Bernstein, UK
What a complete waste of taxpayers money in dreaming up this in the first place. All politicians have some skeletons. All are to a greater or lesser degree corrupt otherwise they wouldn't be seeking power. If there has to be a mayor of London, let it come from the people not the politicians.
Mike Hoddy, England
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