Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mayor of London election 2016: Nightdragon's first-ever British vote

Dear reader, although I alluded to it a couple of entries ago, it's important that you realize something about me. On April 5 of this year, I became a British citizen.
This blog, to those who are familiar with it, is a mixture of musings on both American and British politico-social events or news, as I have a foot in both countries (I have retained my American citizenship). Until a month ago, my nitpickings were from the perspective of a British resident who had the right to live and work in the U.K. It's called Leave to Remain and takes the form of a permanent visa, similar to the U.S. Green Card. Voting, of course, as with some other things such as a British passport, were off-limits to me, as you would expect.
Naturally, that has now changed. I will be voting for the first time in a U.K. election, after sixteen years of having made this country my home, tomorrow evening. It will be for the new Mayor of London. Boris Johnson had two good terms, but now he's stepping down and focusing on succeeding David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative party—or so I'm led to believe from the British political punditry.
Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative candidate. He is pretty much a Cameronite: fiscally conservative and socially moderate. He wants 50,000 new homes built per year until 2020 and to encourage the use of "greener" vehicles. However, he also wants to strengthen neighborhood police units and put more police on night-time public transport. He wants to ensure that London finally gets night-time service on the Underground and kill off any lingering proposals for a third runway at Heathrow when the need for a second one at Gatwick is much greater. I have my issues with the Conservatives as they exist under David Cameron's tenure, but it is important to keep them in power in London as it is strategic, especially given Johnson's rising ambitions.
Initially, I liked the idea of Britain First's Paul Golding as a second choice, but have had cause to rethink it, as I am uncomfortable with the fact that Britain First was established by former British National Party members. Sure, they will crack down on Muslim extremism, but at what price? We cannot turn to potential fascists to solve this problem.
Therefore, I am happy to choose Peter Whittle of The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) as my second preference. It's disappointing that he buys into the need for more housing. Housing, housing, housing ..., it's an incessant drumbeat in British political discourse these days and I'm bored with it. However, UKIP wants to slash immigration, introduce an Australian-style points system for immigrants and, obviously, supports the campaign to leave the EU.
Candidates for the London Assembly will also be chosen in tomorrow's election. It is explained in full here (click on the purple word), if you're interested. It is a 25-member body that serves as a check on the Mayor. Fourteen members are chosen from each constituency in London while the other eleven members are chosen to represent London as a whole. Therefore, I'll have one vote for my particular Constituency and one London-wide vote.
For my Constituency vote, I will give it to Frank Thomas Gould of UKIP. Gareth Andrew Bacon is a current member of Boris Johnson's administration, but he has been in government for many years. I believe we could use a fresh face, a Eurosceptic one at that, on the Assembly, especially in the instance of Labour's Sadiq Khan winning the mayoral role.
For the London-wide Assembly vote, I will give that to the Animal Welfare Party. I am a political conservative, but I also believe that it is important to have members of the Assembly who will ensure that policies regarding animals will take compassion and concern for their well-being into account. Most governments, liberal or conservative, simply do not pay enough attention to animal welfare issues, so I am keen on having the five representatives from the AWP on the Assembly.
Coming up next will be the vote on June 23 on whether or not to leave the European Union. I can tell you right now that I'll be voting Leave without hesitation, but that is another discussion for another entry. Stay tuned.

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