Sunday, 20 April 2008

London Election latest and stuff

I spent yesterday morning leafleting a housing estate up in Highgate (next to the cemetery with Karl Marx in it)for the Greens. There is a Camden Council bye-election on May 1st, the same day as the London-wide elections, and as the Greens have two out of the three councillors in the ward, they are hoping to take the third off the Tories.

I think the Greens have a reasonable chance of taking the ward. On the estate (I managed 275 or so letter boxes in 90 mins) the only political posters in windows were Green ones. I think there was someone else delivering stuff (or it could have been just someone delivering leaflets for pizza). It could well have been the Lib Dems as I saw someone delivering Lib Dem Focus leaflets on my way back to Gospel Oak train station. It was a cold, grey, damp morning so there weren't many people about but those I did say morning to were friendly, so that it is a good sign. All other things being equal, I should be able to get up Highgate again the day before the election for one more leafletting blitz.

Two Tuesdays ago I did turn up at the Friends Meeting House over in Euston for a meeting organised by NO2ID. It was about the surveillance state in London. Ken Livingstone didn't turn up (he was represented by a full-size cardboard cut-out!), but Boris Johnson, Brian Paddick, Jenny Jones (for the Greens), Lindsey German for Left Luggage (sorry, Left List) and Gerard Batten for UKIP were there. The BNP candidate for Mayor Richard "one suit" Barnbrook turned up, but as the BNP aren't represented in Westminster, the European Parliament or the GLA (yet) he wasn't invited onto the platform and was given a ticking off by security. (You might ask, why was Lindsey G allowed on the platform when Left List have no electoral representation in London? Apparently she was asked to speak when she was still Respect's Mayoral candidate...).

There was quite a consensus amongst the platform speakers: opposition to ID cards and fears about where surveillance of London and Londoners is heading. The big arguments were between Jenny Jones and Brian Paddick (over whether crime in London was going up or down) and Lindsey German and Gerard Batten (over immigration). I must say Boris Johnson was quite impressive, but the format of the meeting (I left 8.30ish as I was nodding off and I had a night of work ahead of me)aided him. Each of the 5 speakers was given 3 mins to do their spiel, then the chairwoman (apols, I didn't catch her name) read out 4 issues NO2ID wanted the speakers to address. Each of the speakers were given 3 mins (or so) to give their view. Then it was questions from the audience (you had to fill a piece of paper in- I split before that started). I have been reading that Boris Johnson has been taught to stick to the point, otherwise his minders think he'll go off topic and alienate audiences. So three mins to reel his spiel off was ideal for him, and to his credit he is genuinely anti-ID cards, so he was reasonably impressive.

I still think I'll force myself to vote for Ken as my 2nd choice for Mayor, but I have no enthusiasm for him at all. Having said that, a few Conservative contacts of mine are not too keen on Boris either. I suppose it will all depend on where the Lib Dem votes go after Brian Paddick is eliminated. At the hustings he was very pro- civil liberties and vehemently anti-racist. However, I have been reading that he is quite pro-City of London and has accused Ken of wanting to make London "a socialist republic" (do me a favour!).

Anyway, before I started dropping off into the land of nod, I wrote down a few facts and figures mentioned in the meeting:

Later this year non-European Economic Area foreign nationals (that is, anyone who desn't come from the EU, Iceland, Norway or Lietchenstein)in the UK will be compelled to register for an ID card and be fingerprinted in the process. I can't see this going down well with people from outside the EEA living in London, including all those non-doms...

Those who have ID cards will have to give the authorities information about 50 categories (not just 50 items) of personal information. These can be added to via Government regulation (ie sod Parliamentary scrutiny).

In London there are around 10,000 CCTV cameras on the roads and 8,000 on the Tube. I feel safer already... There are 4.2m CCTV cameras in the UK as a whole.

There are 700,000 DNA samples on the Metropolitan Police database, with around 90,000 new samples being added to every year. I feel safer than ever...

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